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Friends and Berkeley, Calif., locals Ramonn and Mark were disappointed in their neighborhood’s lounge offerings, so they teamed up to open the ultimate swanky concept. Although Mark has vast experience in the restaurant industry, he and Ramonn would be novice owners, so they needed the help of Buy This Restaurant‘s Keith Simpson to track down the ideal location to launch their eatery. After visiting possible spaces in both Berkeley and San Francisco, they selected a prime corner location close to home and soon opened 44 Restaurant & Bar. Read on below for the first exclusive interview with Ramonn and Mark to find out how their business is doing today.
Congratulations on opening 44 Restaurant & Bar! How was the renovation process, and when did you open to customers?
Ramonn and Mark: We officially opened for business March 14, 2014. The renovations were a challenge, but exciting all along the way. We are very pleased with our finished product.
What was the most-influential factor in your choosing the Comfort Food Restaurant over the Greek Restaurant and the Sushi Restaurant?
Ramonn and Mark: Location, location, location. Parking was the best in our location … [and] the adjacent streets are very busy, thus exposing us to hundreds of vehicles daily.
What have been your greatest struggles and greatest successes as you run 44 Restaurant & Bar?
Ramonn and Mark: Our greatest success to date is the instant approval from the community. We have been visited by many locals, people who live within 10 minutes, and they all have raved about the concept.
So far, what have been your daily (or weekly or monthly) sales? How are sales being distributed between the lounge and the dining portions of the restaurant?
Ramonn and Mark: We are doing approximately $1,200/day — distributed 40/60 percent between the lounge and dining area. The food has been a hit. Our dining area is by far the most-popular area so far.
How has customer reaction been to the new concept and updated design? What kind of feedback have you received?
Ramonn and Mark: Again, our concept and menu are a huge hit. We have provided a critical need to an area that was lacking an adult-based concept. Customers are loving us on social media also — we reached nearly 1,000 likes in our first week on Facebook.
Tell us about your menu. What are some of the best-selling cocktails and dishes so far?
Ramonn and Mark: The most-popular menu items are marinated flank steak, catfish sliders, lemon pepper wings, grilled salmon, [and] sweet and fruity spinach salad. [The] most-popular drinks [are] the Sunset, Red Berry Kicker [and] 44 Classic Margarita. Truthfully, the entire menu has been well received, and we are just fine-tuning what’s working.