Costs more, takes longer. This is a labor-intensive business. Labor is quite fluid in a hot market and great labor is intensive and expensive to keep. A spreadsheet doesn’t mean much until you put it into a real-world experience. You don’t know what you don’t know…
As a part of our series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a Restaurateur”, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Kevin Burns.
Kevin Burns is the CEO of Urbanspace, a real estate firm founded in 2000 on the entrepreneurial vision to provide turn-key solutions to urban core residents of Austin, Texas. True to his lifelong enterprising spirit, Kevin worked to bring his latest vision to life in summer 2023 with the opening of Bacalar, a neighborhood restaurant inspired by the Yucatán Peninsula region of Mexico, created in partnership with Chef/Partner Gabe Erales and Urbanspace Hospitality. Throughout this career, Kevin has exceeded over $1 billion in sales. He has been recognized for his numerous achievements, including earning the Austin Business Journal’s Top Realtor award in 2020, and is a multi-year member of Elite 25, Austin’s top luxury agent group.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know’ you a bit. Can you share with our readers a story about what inspired you to become a restaurateur?
One of my favorite pastimes is experiencing unique restaurants around the world. My core business is developing, designing, and owning great real estate. Becoming a restaurateur was finding myself at the crossroads of my passion for hospitality, design and owning great real estate.
Do you have a specific type of food that you focus on? What was it that first drew you to cooking that type of food? Can you share a story about that with us?
I focus on a combination of what the neighborhood needs and wants, the space that the concept is going into and the core competencies of the chef we are working with. Bacalar was born from Chef Gabe’s childhood experiences in Bacalar, his passion for cooking Yucatán-inspired cuisine and our location along the shore of Lady Bird Lake, which I consider a magical location just like Bacalar, a coastal lake in the Yucatán.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? How did you overcome this obstacle?
We have been blessed in this journey of opening a new restaurant in the fact that we have not encountered any deal killer issues. We have however, faced the typical issues of the space taking significantly longer to build, spending significantly more on construction and opening expenses, and not being able to service as many people as we had originally forecast. The great thing is our food is amazing, the service is outstanding, and the space is transformational.