We had the good fortune of connecting with Jason Berkowitz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jason, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
With the cultural shift that was happening in the restaurant industry, and the new mandate for providing anti-harassment courses – I had a vision to create training that actually speaks to our culture, in our voice, and could help guide an old-school industry into new school-ways. To me, this was the first piece of the puzzle to support my restaurant community through modern training. We’re developing all of my tried and true training programs into a unified branded voice that’s relatable and accessible to employees, leaders and owners of all independent businesses out there!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve had an incredibly fun and fulfilling journey so far. Sure, many ups and downs, but through curiosity coupled with a positive perspective – I’ve found myself in the room with some of the most amazing people. I’ve been a professional musician, dancer, author, operator, restaurant partner and now creative entrepreneur supporting cultural growth, both in ourselves and our businesses. I studied psychology, toured the country multiple times, helped Gucci open their first US restaurant and even taught Kobe Bryant how to tap dance. Strange career. All in all though, I’d have to say that a through-line is providing experiences that make people smile and drive a sense of belonging. Hospitality runs deep through my blood. I’ll cry much more quickly from someone being kind than mean. In addition to curiosity and optimism, a big reason I’ve made it this far is my fundamental philosophy to be dependable. I want to be known as someone who ‘shows up’, every time! We all wake up and hope to make it as long as we can through the day before getting kicked in the groin – and then, we keep moving forward, for ourselves and for those that are counting on us.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The first thing I tell people is that LA is made up of multiple little neighborhoods and experiences. You can’t say you understand LA if you’ve only been to the beach, or Hollywood. To fully understand LA, it’s about understanding the landscape, creativity, food and unique culture of acceptance. It’s a lot of ‘yes, and…’ over ‘no, but…’, like you’ll find throughout the country. Now, here’s what you’ll have to see on a visit – Griffith park hike, walk Abbot Kinney, Drive through the tunnel of the 10 freeway that blends into the PCH, through Santa Monica and up into Malibu, get out and walk the Malibu Pier. I think the Grove, although commercial, is fun. Tacos and more Tacos must be eaten. I’m a partner in Tocaya Organica, so, I’m biased and love our food. One of my favorite experiences is turning people on to Korean BBQ! Treat yourself with cookies at Milk Jar and bread from Lodge Bread – now I’m hungry…
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate this to my group of peers, mentors and friends who’ve spent many late nights and early mornings geeking out with me over ways to strengthen our industry. Whether it’s talking through restaurant concepts, leadership, or even just surviving through the tough times, there’s an energy, a community of people who share my enthusiasm and love for the blocking and tackling of restaurant operations. We’d much rather talk shop than discuss our favorite bands, or films – it’s a culture – it’s a passion that drives us all to continually improve with and for each other.
Other: clubhouse: @jdberko