When Eden Grinshpan knew she wanted to open a restaurant, she took fearless steps to make it happen. Read on to learn how she balanced becoming a restaurant owner and a mama at the same time.
How did the partnership with Esquared, the hospitality group behind by CHLOE. and now Dez, come about?
Around 3 years ago, I decided to do a pop up restaurant in Brooklyn. I was in between gigs, and I wanted to get back into the kitchen. I was really passionate about sharing the food I was cooking at home and for my friends—mostly contemporary Middle Eastern. I had this pop up for 2 weeks at Loosie Rouge, a restaurant in Brooklyn, and it was quite successful. We prolonged it, so it went longer than planned. That gave me the confidence to move forward with my business plan and this restaurant I really wanted to open.
I walked by the first by CHLOE. location Soho one day and said to myself “those people know what’s up. Those are the people that I should be partnering with.” I reached out to ESquared, the hospitality group behind by CHLOE. right away. I met with them probably like, 3 days later. They partnered me up immediately with Sam Wasser, the creative director at ESquared and the co-founder of Dez. Together we started going back and forth with this concept. I gave Sam the initial idea of what I wanted Dez to be, from the food to the concept—a Moroccan-inspired restaurant that’s bright and light and colorful and airy.
From the start, Sam and I collaborated so well. Together we came up with Dez. It’s been one of those effortless, really easy partnerships because we were so on the same page about how we wanted this to come about and how we wanted it to look.
Given ESquared’s success with byChloe, a fast casual concept, that was the kind of restaurant they were interested in opening. I thought it was such a brilliant idea because I love working on projects that are accessible, affordable, and relatable and fast casual is all of that. Fast food fuels most of America. There’s a way to make fast casual food healthy. It’s healthy fast casual restaurants that are paving the way, becoming the next thing.
Dez isn’t just a place you go to once a month to celebrate or have a nice dinner. It can be a part of your life on the regular. Middle eastern food just happens to lend itself well to a vegetarian and vegan-friendly diet. It also is really based around whole foods. The result is something that’s easy to incorporate into your everyday life. I want Dez to feel like an extension of my kitchen, but also of everyone else’s kitchens.
What’s really striking about the story behind Dez is that it began with you doing something really simple that so many people find so challenging: asking for what you want. Have you always been comfortable with asking for what want and expecting it to happen?
Honestly, in my mind when I believe in something so much in something I just know it’s going to happen. Of course I never really know what’s going to happen, but in my mind I’m like “it’s happening! It’s happening!” Even when I sold Eden Eats, the way my business partner and I were talking about it wasn’t like “if we sell it…” it was “when we sell this show, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that.” It’s believing so much in it that you’re not going to take no for an answer. Or if you do hear a no, you’re just going to find another way to make it happen.
Tell us a bit about your management style. How do you think it’s impacted by motherhood?
I opened up Dez not that long after I gave birth, so I don’t know if having a kid has really changed the way I would manage people. It mostly has to come down to the experience I had growing up working in the restaurant industry. I always wanted to feel like the work I do is being noticed. I like when people tell me I’m doing a good job so that’s something I try to do within the workplace. I like keeping a really positive environment and giving people the credit they deserve. I think that’s something I always pay attention to. I’m really grateful for everyone at Dez, I have an amazing team. Everyone wants to be there, and that means a lot to me. I try to make sure they know I really appreciate them and everything they do. Motherhood aside, I think that’s something I would always try to get across.
We talk a lot here about balance around work and motherhood. What is your take on balancing work, motherhood, everything going during this chapter of your life right now?
When I’m super super busy, obviously the mom guilt comes in. Everyone talked about mom guilt before I had Ayv and I was like “okay, I’ve felt guilty before” but mom guilt is a really awful feeling. It’s not that your kid wants you to be there and you can’t, it’s that you want to be there and you don’t want to miss out. It’s a really stressful thing.
I keep adding more and more things to my life, which is what I’ve always wanted so I’m trying to enjoy that. But I do find that even though I’m really busy and people have all these expectations from me, on the weekend I just block everything else off and allow time for my family. I basically just stop writing people and turn off for those two days. Even though it’s a weekend and that’s what you should be doing, being the co-owner of a restaurant means I don’t necessarily get that luxury. There are also always projects that need to get done. But sometimes I just shut my brain off and don’t look at my phone even though I know I have things to do. That time helps me keep going every week.
It’s a balance, trying to have those family moments whenever you can but accepting that sometimes you can’t and it’s okay. Because I think moms are also really hard on ourselves.
How does connection with other mamas play into your own motherhood experience?
Every time I pass a woman on the street with a kid, I think, “I see you, we’re in this together!” When I see moms on trains by themselves I’m like: what can I do to help you, and you’re a f*cking rock star. All these moms doing what we need to do to make our lives work, there’s no harder job. Women are amazing. I swear to God, after I gave birth to Ayv, when I was walking down the street and saw other moms I’d look at them and point at them and point and me and be like, “Yes!” We’re doing it! We got this.
Hear yourself and be really patient with yourself. The most important person is obviously your kid, but also you. I think mothers need to take care of ourselves because parents are at the heart of every family. So you need to take care of yourself, your partner, your relationship, and that will in turn make your family life happy and smooth and work well.
Everything is a phase. I think that’s one thing I wish more people had told me, especially when I gave birth. It’s all a phase. The baby will grow. You’re not going to be up every night forever. You’re not going to be up feeding the baby every two hours until she leaves the house when she’s like, in her twenties. This is just a moment in time. Take a deep breath. It’s just a moment in time.
The mom guilt has nothing to do with you not being a good mom. It probably means you’re being a really good mom, and you’re just being really protective. It’s okay to follow your dreams.