Chattanooga Restaurant Entrepreneur Nathan Lindley
Entrepreneur and Owner Nathan Lindley featured in The Spring Issue of CityScope Magazine
Our own Nathan Lindley was featured among 5 notable Chattanooga entrepreneurs in a recent Entrepreneurial Spirit article written by Lucy Morris for The Spring Issue of CityScope Magazine.
"Grit, determination, and an unwavering but humble confidence are all requirements, not to mention a willingness to listen and value feedback, change course, and ask for help."
Photo by Emily Long
Owner | Public House, The Social, Il Primo
Nathan Lindley’s career started off with a bang when he opened his first restaurant, St. John’s, at the age of 26. With an entrepreneurial mindset that melds his desire to work for himself and his passion for teaching others, he continues to push the envelope when it comes to creating culinary concepts customers love.
CS: How have you developed the concepts for your restaurants?
NL: The concept is always driven by who I think the customer would be and why I think they would come to my restaurant. Sometimes it takes a while to develop. Public House was met with a lot of confusion its first year and a half. In other cases, like with Il Primo, the demographics of the neighborhood helped guide the concept, and it seems to be what people wanted.
CS: Have there been times that things didn’t go quite as expected, or you had to pivot in some way?
NL: Definitely. In my professional career, I reached what I thought was a comfortable spot, then the recession hit, and I left Nashville and came back to Chattanooga. It was a difficult three years where I had to adjust to keep a restaurant open with half of the revenue I thought it’d bring in.
CS: Have you had any mentors or people who were influential along the way?
NL: Frank Stitt, who I trained under at Bottega in Birmingham, had a huge influence on me. I learned from him decorum. He carries himself with such an ease and grace, and that carries over to his business. Everything about his restaurants matches his style and attention to detail.
CS: What are some of the greatest challenges entrepreneurs face?
NL: Funding is always a challenge. Getting other people to buy into your passion can be a challenge. The biggest challenge I’ve faced is learning how to work with people. In my early days, I was a terrible manager. I’ve learned a good manager is someone who can lead by example and also adjust to truly taking care of their coworkers along with the customer.
CS: What’s the best advice you have for current or future entrepreneurs?
NL: The main thing is to make sure you have a plan. You also can’t try to trick yourself into believing something’s going to work when it’s not. So many restaurants fail, and almost always you can tell the owner is passionate about it, but it’s not what the market or customer wants. You have to be willing to walk away, or it’ll kill you. A lot of people open restaurants out of passion but realize after six months they’re not going to make money or take a day off, and it stops being fun.
Written by Lucy Morris for The Spring Issue of CityScope Magazine.
Read the full article in CityScope's The Spring Issue 2020.