Cultivating Authenticity and Scaling Excellence

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

How does authenticity drive success? Philz Coffee CEO Jacob Jaber and Neighborhood Restaurant Group Beverage Director Greg Engert join Debbie and Billy Shore to discuss good coffee, craft beer and how to build businesses that are part of the fabric of their communities. Both guests cite authenticity – in the people they hire, the products they serve, and the experiences they provide for guests – as the basis for the success of their organizations. “The best service is when it’s done from the heart and authentic,” Jaber believes. Engert thinks that just having craft beer on the menu is not enough. “The hard part is echoing the passion of the producer through service and product knowledge,” he says. “The flavors become more vibrant when you wed the intellectual to the more visceral pleasures of drink.”

Both guests built their businesses with community in mind. Jaber’s father started Philz out of his grocery store in San Francisco and now they have 48 stores and growing. “If you want to do it right, you have to not worry about scalability and just focus on excellence,” says Jaber. Engert agrees. “[They] are places for people who live near each other to get together, share food and drink and get to know each other and learn from each other,” says Engert of Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s 19 establishments.

Tune in to this conversation and hear the passion that these two guests bring to their crafts, their customers and their communities.

Resources and Mentions:

Jacob Jaber

CEO of Philz Coffee. He took over the business from his father in 2005 and expanded its footprint from the original coffee shop in San Francisco’s Mission District to more than 30 locations across California and in Washington, D.C.

Greg Engert

Beverage Director for The Neighborhood Restaurant Group. Known for his in-depth knowledge of beer, he oversees the beer lists for 19 restaurants. He is well-known for his ability to pair sophisticated beer with great food. In 2010, Food & Wine named him one of its “Sommeliers of the Year,” the first time a beer director had ever received the honor. A couple of years later he received a James Beard Award nomination.

No Kid Hungry

Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.

Philz Coffee

Began when Phil Jaber went on a quest 25 years ago to make a really great cup of coffee. He wanted to create a blend that was flavorful, complex, rich, smooth, and low in acidity. His quest took him all over the world and after visiting thousands of coffee shops, Jaber created over 30 unique blends. He wanted to make sure the coffee making process embodied a personal and social feel, so he designed his own coffee station allowing for every cup to be crafted one cup at a time. By personalizing each cup, Jaber had found a way to allow for individuality in every cup.

Neighborhood Restaurant Group

An award-winning collection of independent and idiosyncratic businesses devoted to the culinary arts in Washington DC and Virginia. Currently 19 different locations make up its portfolio of restaurants.

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