We had the good fortune of connecting with Leo Grifka and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leo, what do you attribute your success to?
I would attribute my success to hard work. My father has set a very high bar when it comes to working long hours and dedicating himself to his profession. I’ve learned from him that there is no substitute for hard work, and it has been invaluable to my professional career.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
This is a funny question, because I feel like I’m at the beginning of my professional career, finally creating some momentum, but I will answer again with hard work, persistence, and the willingness to take risks. I’ve held jobs as a bag boy, doors and mouldings delivery boy and warehouse worker, and real estate broker. I always knew I wanted to get into real estate development but I had to go about it in a roundabout way. I’ve had many failures, setbacks, dirty jobs, tough superiors, naysayers and late nights before I even had the first opportunity to do what I really wanted, and only was it at that point that the real hard work began. Overcoming challenges is simply having the ability to persevere and the mindset to never allow a “no” to stop you. With every project I always hear, “it will never pencil”, “you are taking on too much”, “there is too much risk”, “how can you do it all?”, ”I don’t see it coming together”, and even, “you’re crazy.” It’s almost as if the better the idea, the more pushback you will receive. Listen to all the input and make your own decision considering all factors. With Palihotel Culver City and Short Stories Hotels, I knew from day one that the course I was on would lead to success, and that every “no” was simply an obstacle to overcome. I learned over the years to trust my instincts and keep pushing forward. I would like people to know that if they are going to a Grifka Group concept, every detail was curated and thought about deeply. Placemaking and creating spaces that simply feel good is important to me. I never want to take things too seriously. Guests should feel like they can relax and have fun in a space that is a bit different than their typical spot, due to the fact that I paid attention to what people wanted and never compromised on my vision.
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.
For the perfect day in LA, I’m assuming my friend is staying at either the Palihotel Culver City or Short Stories Hotel (for obvious reasons), and for this exercise, let’s say the latter. So, I’d start the morning with a hike at Runyon Canyon or one of the many great hiking trails here in LA. After the hike, grab a breakfast burrito at Cofax, and jump in line at CBS to be on The Price is Right. Next, walk around the Fairfax/Melrose Design District/3rd Street area. Then, check out The Grove for some shopping and pop into LACMA to see the latest exhibit. Have lunch at Fanny’s at the Academy Museum, and assuming the friend is a car lover, check out the Peterson Automotive Museum just across the street. Walk back to your room at Short Stories Hotel for a refreshing shower and have dinner and drinks at Short Stories Restaurant. End with a nightcap at Blue Collar where they recommend custom drinks based on your cocktail preferences. Walk back to the hotel and pass out in your extremely comfortable Short Stories bed. This is a little sample of my perfect 24-hour, walkable and sunny LA day.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate this to my family. Especially when opening a new property, it takes a huge toll on me and my schedule. My beautiful wife, children and immediate family have been so supportive and understanding of my career, always pushing me to do more.