Entrepreneur Interviews - All Business Owners

Interview with Brand Architect Tony Rouse, of The Atlanta Food Rave

Ever get the urge to start a restaurant business, but just not know how? Read on to see some helpful hints and tips from Tony Rouse.

Tony Rouse has been running his Atlanta based restaurant, The Atlanta Food Rave, which showcases some of the best talent the city has,since 2008. Thanks for stopping by, Tony.

Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?

The Atlanta Food Rave is a collection of the hottest chefs from all over the city coming together for a night of food, fun and live entertainment. Also, a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales go to a local non-profit, the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

That sounds pretty cool, when did you start the business?

The idea and name were formulated in 2008. August 2010 will be the first year we have executed the concept, with several other dates already in the works.

What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?

I have been an emcee and event host since 2004, as well as a national sales trainer. I have always dabbled in events and concerts in some way, but this is the first time I'm making my ideas readily available for major public consumption.

What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?

Plan, work with the "right" people and don't employ "Yes" men. You have to work with people that challenge you in a respectful way. I welcome these challenges because it shows that others have a vested interest in the events success, as well as their own. While I do welcome differing opinions, I also know what I like and how to execute the vision that is in my head. If you see the end from the beginning, you'll always know how to position yourself to head in that direction. Last, but not least...ask questions!

How did you come up with your business idea?

The Atlanta Food Rave was inspired by the movie, "Hitch" and an event I attended, The Taste of Ebony, hosted by Ebony magazine. It gave me the idea to create a high-energy, culinary-infused event that showcased chefs, but also had "lifestyle" spin. The music, cocktails, socializing and overall experience are just as important as the food and featured chefs. I want the event to be accessible, but different from something you can experience every day.

Who did you hire to help you? Bookkeeper, Accountants, Lawyers …? Would you suggest others do the same?

A PR agency, an event designer, a marketing firm, a movie production company, a photographer, and most importantly graphic designers. Yes! Having a great team of people sets the stage for success. Your team must be great, good is not enough.

With the current economy in a slump, what cost saving tips would you have for a new entrepreneur?

Have an overall view of "how" to do everything you contract other people for. This helps in that it makes it easier to be direct, communicate and set expectations for those around you.

Social marketing is consistently being written about in the small business space. Has it worked generating business for you?

Absolutely. The phenomenon of Twitter and Facebook has made it easier for people to see what we are doing. We have been able to do viral commercials and tease our guests with interviews of our chefs. It gives our audience a sense of connection, before they even arrive at our event.

What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?

Design, design, design! People buy with their eyes, before anything else. You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if it isn't translated properly, in its messaging and visually, you have a concept that is more than likely destined to fail.

If you're going to be in Atlanta, this sounds like a really hot spot to check out this summer. Thank you for your time Tony and good luck!

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