In my ongoing coverage of the local culinary and cocktail scene, I’ve learned that finding a happy balance between work and family is a common pursuit among restaurateurs.
But what happens when work and family are one in the same? When a restaurant is owned and operated by two or more people who share the same last name, is finding that happy balance hopeless? And when they promise their customers that they’ll be treated like family, what does that really mean?
For the answers, I went straight to the horse’s mouth—so to speak.
Whenever I walk in the front doors of the Horseshoe Grill, it’s as if I’ve wandered into a Bedient family reunion. And when I leave, I feel as though I’ve been anointed as an honorary Bedient.
Ken and Lisa Bedient’s eastside eatery is a family affair, and they point with pride to their family members who contribute to that culture from both the front and back of the house.
“Treating our guests like family is part of running a family business, and for us that means serving honest food, with friendly service, and being upfront about our ingredients,” said Ken Bedient, who (with his family) owns the Horseshoe Grill, 7713 E. Broadway Blvd.
But Bedient admits that getting his family dynamic to gel through their intensely busy opening two years ago was a little difficult at first.
“We realized that we could only do so much; we had to learn how to set business and family boundaries so we could all be successful,” he said. “But we’re a family, we work hard, we’re aggressive and we know how to accomplish things together as a team.”
Hard work is something that Bedient is all too familiar with. In addition to owning and operating the restaurant, he also owns and operates an air conditioning contracting company with his son, Kevin, who’s also a partner and bar manager at the Horseshoe Grill.
Are you following me?
But wait. There’s also the executive chef, Andy, who happens to be married to the Bedients’ daughter, Logan. And don’t forget their other daughter, Megan, who’s a Horseshoe Grill manager. And lastly there’s Lisa, the boot-scootin’ matriarch herself, who lights up the room with a smile whether she’s running the business or running food.
My gut tells me that the Bedients’ two grandchildren are being groomed for positions as well. Stay tuned.
For many proprietors of family-owned restaurants it was an old story or memory that helped to inspire their concepts, and the Horseshoe Grill is no exception. Bedient fondly remembers smoking meats with his grandfather as a kid growing up in Tucson, and there was no question that smoked and wood-grilled meats would be at the center of his family restaurant’s story. I guess that’s why some people around town refer to chef Andy as a “mesquite maven,” but that’s for another column.
There are far too many family-owned restaurants to list here, but some that come to mind are Brother John’s, Caffe Torino, El Charro, The Dutch, Jonathan’s Cork, Maynard’s Market and Kitchen, New Delhi Palace, Noble Hops, Nook, Red’s Smokehouse and Tap Room, Tino’s Pizza and Wild Garlic Grill.
So get out there and visit your neighborhood family-owned restaurants. The stories that their dishes tell are the equivalent of picking up an old family photo album. Minus the dust, of course.
Contact Matt Russell, whose day job is CEO of Russell Public Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Russell is also the host of “On the Menu Live” that airs 5 to 6 p.m. Saturdays on KQTH 104.1 FM, as well as the host of the Friday Weekend Watch segment on the “Buckmaster Show” on KVOI 1030 AM.