Title: Co-founder, Sellers Markets
Hometown: Bay Village OH

1. What did you do before opening Sellers Markets?
Songwriter and musician, I was in the band Stabbing Westward. There are a lot of parallels between music and food. It’s the theater of food, we have an open kitchen, so you see it as it’s happening. It’s like a rock show, people get nervous, you prep, from 11 to 2 you’re jammed then you realize what a rush it was.

2. What is your vision for the future of Seller’s Markets?
We’re going to remain committed to local, sustainable agriculture; we have a chef-driven menu with a value-price point. We take advantage of seasonal ingredients and introduce them and see what flies. We will always do seasonal dishes. We’re trying to blur the line between fast food and fine dining.

Our goal is to recreate the success of the first store, we believe we could grow it organically to in the Bay Area to 15 stores by 2010. If the tidal wave of organic food continues then it could be a statewide or national brand. Anywhere there is a Whole Foods store we could do well.

3. What is your definition of “sustainable”, any roadblocks to achieving sustainability?
Being a good steward to the land and raising animals humanely, you don’t use pesticides and hormones. Taking care of the land and taking care of the animals and crops.

A lot of sustainable providers are small batch artisan providers. We’ve had to switch out some folks because some delivery guy decided to go surfing. We need products delivered consistently. That’s been a big hurdle. We will only need more sustainable providers as we continue to grow. I hope the suppliers will step up to the demand.

4. What are the most popular item on the menu?
The BBQ chicken sandwich, pulled chicken with Belfiore smoked mozzarella, jalapeno slaw, tomato on Boulangerie Bay Bread panini roll. It’s a killer sandwich. It’s been on the top of the charts going on 21 months. The rotisserie chicken salad is also way up there.

5. What’s the most surprising thing people probably don’t know about Sellers Markets?
How well we value the people who work here. We have profit sharing for key employees, and stock options for everyone–dishwashers on up. We want to take care of our people. We plan to offer health care to everyone, which we will be able to do soon, when we reach a critical mass of stores. A lot of people bring their family and friends into the company and I think that says a lot about our business.

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