Pubbelly’s Andreas Schreiner (center) flanked by JWU North Miami culinary students.As founding partner + managing director of the Pubbelly Group, Andreas Schreiner oversees a growing empire of Miami hotspots, including Pubbelly, Barceloneta and the new L’Echon Brasserie.
But, as he recently told a packed house of JWU culinary and hospitality students, he wasn’t even sure anyone was going to show up on Pubbelly’s opening night. “Everything that could go wrong, went wrong,” he laughed.
On the plus side, the place was far from empty: “There were 250 people in line waiting to get in. And we never let [back-of-house issues] affect the customer experience.”
Dean Bruce Ozga (left) with Schreiner.
It’s a lesson that’s stayed with him. Fast-forward 4 years: Schreiner and business partners José Mendín '03 and Sergio Navarro have grown Pubbelly Group into a major player on the Miami culinary scene. They’ve just opened their first hotel restaurant (L’Echon Brasserie at the Hilton Cabana), and a Pubbelly Sushi is set to open in Mexico City in 2015.
“Ethics is the most important thing in creating a business,” he noted. He had no prior business ownership experience when the trio started, although he had built up an extensive resume as a hotel and restaurant GM.
When he joined forces with Mendín and Navarro, “I knew we’d make a strong team.”
Schreiner talked about how crucial it is to find the right team dynamic when starting your business: “Surround yourself with people who know more than you do,” he said. In addition, he told students, you want to find partners with complementary skillsets.
I called up José and Sergio and said, ‘Get your butts over here now — you have to see this space.’”
Pubbelly Group’s José Mendín '03 (bottom right) plating at his 2013 Distinguished Visiting Chef (DVC) Dinner.
He also talked about the value of following gut instincts. The same day the 3 partners decided to start Pubbelly (although they didn’t yet have a name), Schreiner drove around Miami in search of potential spaces — and he fell in love with one of the first buildings he saw, a boarded-up former sushi joint. “It didn’t even have a full kitchen — just 1500-square-feet, a counter and a fryolator.”
The space did have one distinguishing feature: Brick walls. “Coming from Chicago, I fell in love with that style and how rustic and different it was,” Schreiner told students. “I called up José and Sergio and said, ‘Get your butts over here now — you have to see this space.’”
The landlord was willing to take a chance on them, so now they had to figure out what to do with the space. “We really wanted to stir things up and take a risk,” noted Schreiner. “How were we going to be different than what Miami’s always done?”
They started by creating a concept that could function in the space. “Your concept development and your space and logistical requirements have to go hand in hand,” he said. “You can’t create a menu that you can’t execute — it doesn’t matter how good you are!”
Your concept development + your space and logistical requirements have to go hand in hand.”
Schreiner went on to outline Pubbelly Group’s meteoric growth from that initial 45-seat restaurant to developing 7 concepts in 5 years, partnering with a cruise line and developing international properties.
Schreiner emphasized never losing sight of why you love hospitality — no matter what. “If you’re in this business for any reason other than to serve people and make them smile – and do it because you really love it – then you should probably hang up your apron right now + walk out the door,” Schreiner emphasized, adding, “We do this because we love food … and for the personal satisfaction of making people happy.”
Above all, he said, “Love what you do, every single day.”
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