Omar Shaikh, Leveraging Purpose to Lead a Community (#223)

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Omar Shaikh is a Milwaukee business owner and community leader, who is well-known in Wisconsin for his award-winning restaurant Carnevor, one of the top-rated steakhouses in the city. He is also a partner in Wisconsin Ticket Concierge, O & B Consulting, and 3rd Street Market Hall at The Avenue and Tuk Tuk Chicago, the newest form of “short distance” transportation with electric Tuk Tuk’s.

Omar Shaikh is committed to helping to build a vibrant Milwaukee through restaurant and entertainment experiences and is very involved in the community. In fact, he has served as board chairman of VISIT Milwaukee, is a member of the Wisconsin Center District board of directors, and was one of the leading advocates to get approval for the long-awaited expansion of the Wisconsin Center, a convention center that will greatly benefit business throughout southeastern Wisconsin.

From MMA Fighter to Business Owner & Developer

As a late teenager, Omar Shaikh moved out to Los Angeles to continue his education, and that’s when he got acquainted with the Gracie Family, a prominent martial arts family from Rio de Janeiro, known for their creation of the self-defense martial arts system of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu also known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. These were the very early days of MMA, and Omar Shaikh decided that he wanted to become a professional fighter. He quit school and focused just on pursuing his dream, dedicating his life to everything that had to do with training and fighting. Omar achieved his dream to become a professional fighter, but after several years he realized he wasn’t very fulfilled. He had suffered from several injuries, and he didn’t see how he could have made a difference in the world. That’s when he decided to quit his MMA career and get back to school.

While going to College, Omar Shaikh started working as a bouncer, and he used that job as an opportunity to meet a lot of people. Something that would be instrumental to his success years later. A brief experience in the Corporate World made him realize how that was not the right path for him. He wanted to be independent. He wanted to be an entrepreneur. That dream manifested with him owning a restaurant, and after that partnership didn’t work out, he went on to create his very own restaurant, Carnevor, a premier steakhouse. After the initial struggle, which is quite common for every entrepreneurial endeavor, Carnevor really took off and it became since then the place to be in Wisconsin while also being a central part of his work as a developer.

And now here’s Omar Shaikh.

Show Notes

[0:00] Intro
[3:45] How’d it happen for Omar Shaikh?
[10:11] Carnevor Restaurant’s environment
[14:34] Getting the business off the ground
[17:54] The culture of taking care of people—regardless of who they are
[23:55] On re-doing a business and the secret to keeping a business up and strong
[28:28] Diving deeper into Visit Milwaukee
[34:36] The challenge in getting the convention center
[38:11] What “crushing it” means for Omar when it comes to Visit Milwaukee and the upcoming groundbreaking convention center
[40:40] The attributes or characteristics that the next mayor of Milwaukee needs to have
[44:55] Omar’s commitments for the future
[48:15] What the Food Haul is going to be and how Omar and his team are going to blow people away through experience
[53:49] On the lessons of partnerships
[1:01:15] Outro

Full transcript below

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Podcast with Omar Shaikh. Leveraging Purpose to Lead a Community.

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

people, carnivore, milwaukee, omar, restaurant, city, partners, business, understand, years, convention center, knew, mayor, money, wisconsin, feel, relationships, learned, move, food

SPEAKERS

Omar Shaikh, Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta  00:06

Everybody, welcome back to the How’d It Happen Podcast. I’m so excited to have you here. And by the way, did you know that you don’t have to just listen to these podcasts I also post every podcast the video from every podcast on YouTube my channel at how it happened. Podcast. So check it out if that’s your thing. I listen to podcasts. I don’t really watch them but, but I know I’m not like everybody. So if you want want to get a look, you want to see what the guests looks like like my guest Omar today you want to see what he looks like, go to YouTube, and check it out. So I am fulfilling my promise to you today. With another amazing success story. I’ve got Omar Shaikh on the on the podcast with me, Omar, Welcome to the How to happen podcast. Well, thank you for having me. And I do owe a great debt of gratitude to Scott wells for connecting Omar and I Scott has been on the show before and has been a great friend to me and he was kind enough to hook me up with Omar and here. Yes, so that’s the way

Omar Shaikh  01:11

Scott’s Awesome. Yeah, he’s got it all figured out.

Mike Malatesta  01:15

have it all figured out? Doesn’t he? Sir seems to Yeah. So let me tell you a little bit about Omar and then we’re never gonna get started. So Omar is in Milwaukee Business Owner and community leader who is well known for his award winning restaurant carnivore, one of the top rated steak houses in Wisconsin. And some might say it’s the place to be seen or the place to be in the City of Milwaukee. He’s also a partner in Wisconsin ticket concierge. Oh, and be consulting Third Street Market Hall at the avenue which is a very, very interesting and new development that I’m sure we’ll talk about. And tuck tuck Chicago, a short distance electric cab service. I love the tuck talks. i We i saw them for the first time at St. Lucia. We stayed at a place at St. Lucia and they drove us around and tuck tucks and it was the coolest thing.

Omar Shaikh  02:03

Was it the electric version? Or it was the traditional hookups.

Mike Malatesta  02:06

I think they were traditional. They were motors. That gas motor on those? Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So Omar has a passion for moving the City of Milwaukee forward through his active involvement in the community. He current he’s served as board chairman of VISIT Milwaukee, I think you’ve just board chairman, visit Maki, I think you’ve just kind of bounced off of there and is a member of the Wisconsin Center District Board of Directors. Omar was one of the leading advocates to get approval for the long awaited expansion of the convention center, which will greatly benefit hotels, restaurants and retailers throughout southeastern Wisconsin. Omar strongly believes in giving back to the community and is chairman of the Milwaukee kitchen cabinet, which is put together the three days of Christmas initiative for the past several years to provide holiday meals and gifts for nonprofit groups. Omar and his wife Connie has been leaders in raising money for the area’s nonprofits and community groups, serving as co chairs for several record breaking fundraisers, including the Harry and Rose Sampson Jewish community centers, kids share and sharp literacies A Novel Event. Omar, I start every show with the same simple question. And that is, how did happen for you?

Omar Shaikh  03:24

Yeah, you know, I grew up here in Milwaukee. And then when I was a teenager, late teens, I moved out to Los Angeles, and chasing dreams out there. And, you know, went out and met the Gracie family while I was going to school and wanted to become a professional fighter. MMA was just starting back then. But it just became my life. It was all I wanted to do. And so I didn’t finish too many years of school out there, dedicated my life to training and fighting and whatnot. And then I realized, well, I only have two years of education and it’s eight years later, um, you know, you really can’t make that much money. And, in the process, I had a broken hand, you know, broke my legs before my ribs, my teeth. So I just said, Maybe I better choose another career path. So I came back to Milwaukee, finished my education here at UW or at Cardinal Stritch University, and really knew, you know, didn’t know what I wanted to do in the timeframe of, you know, going to college actually work the doors at different bars and nightclubs, you know, being a being a fighter. I was a smaller guy, though, you know, about 170 pounds and I never really believed in being that bouncer to hurt me, but I knew what to talk to people. And for me, I took it an opportunity not not to show that I have skills. I took it as an opportunity to meet a ton of people. And so I was the guy that just you know, apologize and they couldn’t come in for whatever reason and tried to build relationships. And it was really a great start to meet a ton of people. Um, so you know, from doorman, they’re finished college, worked in a few corporate jobs. Sales did really well. added, but then I just realized that I just really didn’t want to work for people. For whatever reason, you know, being in the corporate culture, I felt that I was, and I’m not the smartest guy in the room, but I felt like I work for people that like, shouldn’t be in that position. And just a lot of the corporate rules and laws, I’m an entrepreneur, I mean, that’s as you are, like, you just, you have to go, right. And so you have to go outside the boundaries and just go and so I had an opportunity to have my first restaurant at the time was called soccer to me. And it was a great, great success. I mean, it was long and drawn out. But it was highly anticipated. I’d met so many people, and it just blew up. So I mean, it was the only restaurant, you know, that like, I would cook people two hours on a Tuesday. And they would wait in Milwaukee. I mean, so it was, it was such a great success. And I met so many great people out of that. That partnership didn’t fully work out for other reasons. And so I went on to open a restaurant called carnivore, which is still here today, 15 years later. And it was funny because I, you know, I figured I knew all these people, I felt like everyone loved me. And I felt like everyone would just move over customer base to carnivore. And I open that restaurant and high end stakes as expensive if not more than everyone else. Everyone’s like, you can’t go up to John me. He’s got that market cornered and whatnot. I would say the first two months, it was okay. But we weren’t really paying the bills, and we had to go into overdraft. And I just couldn’t figure out like, why a lot of these people didn’t come see me and they would like some of them would come but you know, it’s like the friendships people would come. But it’s also a lot of that crowd wanted to get to see me, you know, maybe a little soccer. They weren’t the big state, big cab drinkers. Right? So it’s a totally different crowd. I kept all those relationships, and they would come and they would know here and there. But I just remember it was like,

Omar Shaikh  06:50

it was a Monday night, it was snowing outside, we had four tables, I’d overdrafted like two three times. And I felt like I was doing everything right. And my wife was sitting with me at the bar. And I turned around and I said, I think I think I just screwed us. And we just had, you know, not even a one year old at the time. And I started start crying. I’m like, Why? Why would you say that? Right? Um, I never really take stress home anymore. You know, I feel like I have a gun to my head. Um, but I just remember that it was, it was I can’t remember the exact date. But it was in December. Dennis ghetto who’s a food critic, God bless the soul at the time, came in and reviewed us and said I bitten to the steak was probably one of the best steaks if not the best thing I ever ate my life. And so I didn’t know what that the time of that meant would review do. And literally, the day that it came out to the phone sort of blown up. And it was really I look back from that point on. The restaurant was busy, busy ever since. And so carnivores just become the place to be, you know, for a lot of people. And so whether it’s, you’re a plumber, and you saved up money, and you want a great dinner with your wife, your family, we want them to feel special. If you’re superstar athlete, if you’re doing a business closing, if you’re CEO, if you’re a millennial, I mean, it’s really pleased for everybody, because we we don’t have white tablecloths, play upbeat music, you can come in here with a baseball hat and a T shirt or you can wear a suit and I don’t want to be pretentious, I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable. That’s the whole goal of carnivores that you’re getting the elements of fine dining service and food. But I want everyone to feel comfortable. I don’t as many people as I know a lot of money in the house. Like, for me myself, I don’t want to be in those environments as much. So I you know, that’s I think we really hit in the head and nail that out of the park here with carnivore and so today you know, we opened several restaurants since closed several restaurants and but two three years ago sold out of the restaurant group and only up carnivore. And then from there opened up doing developments and consulting different types of companies. But carnivore today is is just still the crown jewel for me. And it’s the pride and joy of still coming here almost every night and meeting new people and taking care of people, the hospitality make new relationships. It’s where we do our political deals is where we raise our money. It’s where our consulting clients take us here to dinner. So it’s kind of a double tip. But it’s just a place to be so proud of that. Almost everything gets done here. And I just I know that people trust us, like, people trust us. Because if you’re if you’re a guy that saved up money, and you can only come in once a year, I’m gonna make sure that you have a great, great experience. Or if you’re the MVP, or whatever team, you’re going to get a great experience to and we’re gonna you’re going to be trusted that we’re not gonna have a bunch of people bothering them as well. So it’s kind of in the heart and soul of everything that I do and continues to be the heart and soul of everything that I do. And

Mike Malatesta  09:41

the well, let me wait on that one. And I’ll ask you first this environment that you say, you know, you can come in with a hat or T shirt or you can come in with a suit and it’s awkward. It’s all good. Is that been that way from the beginning? Or is that something that sort of evolved over time? So I’m thinking that maybe at the beginning, you were coming competing with other established steak houses that maybe had a different vibe to them. And people expected that that kind of thing or what?

Omar Shaikh  10:08

Yeah, we broke the mold. I mean, it’s like, you know, every steak house that’s opened up since us here in Wisconsin, even in other states, I know what they’re doing. They bring the whole team and they eat five times they order everything off the menu, they try to, you know, it’s it’s very, it’s very authentic here. And so, no, we were like this in the beginning, from day one, we knew who you are, and who you were going to be. And so we didn’t want any, we didn’t want any guesswork as to who we are. I mean, carnival or pretty much clearly tells you what they are. And then when you come in, it’s kind of a nice, dimly lit, modern type design that’s, you know, makes you feel really comfortable, right, it’s kind of back in a carnivorous era. In the dining room, we have ribs that, that go over the main dining room that come out of the wall. So you’re actually eating in the belly of a nervous creature. But we were that like that from day one. I, somebody walked in with a T shirt. I walked up, shook their hand, hey, great seat, made them feel welcome. We wanted everybody to feel welcome here, you know. And so if you want to come in and suit business, everybody, we get those all the time. But if you want to come up for a ballgame before a ballgame, and dress down. Listen, we’re here to take care of everybody.

Mike Malatesta  11:15

And when you let me go back to you mentioned moving to LA when you were 18, or a teenage Yeah. 18 Yeah. So what was was it for the fighting that you moved there, Omar? Or was there another reason that you went there, but that

Omar Shaikh  11:29

was one of the main reasons I wanted to go learn from the family, but also I just wasn’t, wasn’t hanging out with the right people. You know, when I first started college here, and when I was 18, and I just wanted to change, I needed to change a pace and wanted to go out find myself a little bit. So yeah, I don’t I don’t certainly don’t regret those years, I was a college graduate when I was like 27. But I learned a lot out there and and I take them mentality of the of the competition and the fighting with me and everything that I do. It’s a different like these days, but I take that spirit with me with whatever I do. So I like my kids are all athletic. And they’re all excelled at sports. And I know that there’s going to stay with them that competitiveness with whatever they do.

Mike Malatesta  12:14

And were you fighting before you, you went to LA or were you

12:18

you know, it’s funny, I love my parents. They never let me get into the martial arts. I did a little bit of wrestling. But I would from six years old asked if I could train in martial arts and karate and boxing. They never let me do it. They didn’t want me to do it. So I knew if I could move out of the state, when I became an adult, I could go do that.

Mike Malatesta  12:38

Got it. And Gracie, that’s that name is. I mean, I think it’s synonymous with MMA, but also jujitsu as well, right?

Omar Shaikh  12:47

Yeah, they’re the creators of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. And basically, the creators of MMA that’s existed 70 years in Brazil. And then they brought it here to the States. And so it’s a worldwide sport now. And it’s thanks to that family.

Mike Malatesta  13:01

So you mentioned some of the injuries you had while you were fighting. I’m guess I’m, I’m wondering, yeah. So here’s a kid that moves from the walk, he never did any martial arts. And you get into, you know, you start training with and get in the ring with guys that I’m assuming, had been doing this for, you know, a long time. And I’m kind of thinking about, I played football, and I’m just kind of thinking about how you rise up and you’re like, star of the, say, the eighth grade team, and you get to the high school, right? And then all of a sudden, these guys are these guys that are much bigger, much faster, much more experienced are hitting you and doing things to you in a way that you you know, it’s it’s new. And it’s not always exciting. Well,

Omar Shaikh  13:43

well, I mean, I, I didn’t I didn’t just step into the cage or ring before I was, you know, I was ready. I felt but most of my answers came from training. All your injuries really come from training. I mean, that’s when you’re really hurting yourself. You know, you have hundreds and hundreds of hours of training and then you might have a four minute fight or 10 minute fight or even a fight you know, so a lot of it comes into training. Okay.

Mike Malatesta  14:05

And the socket socket to me when you started that. But how did you get it off the ground? If Can you tell I can you walk me through a little bit of the weeds on that because I’m really interested in

Omar Shaikh  14:17

Yeah, I mean, we you know, we we did it with a non blood relative uncle neither of us who in the restaurant business is a brilliant man in his own right. But, you know, we didn’t have restaurant experience. I worked in restaurants in California, but I’ve never owned one. You know, never I was never a chef. I would give to people I think that’s my superpower. We all have one right? And so it was rough. I mean, hire some great chefs hired some staff, inspire them felt like we led them in the right direction believing in this place. I wasn’t I wish I had the knowledge that I had now, but it was very, very, very successful. I learned a lot throughout the process, but I I spent a lot of time traveling and honestly just kidding, like some of the best recipe With a team in other cities and, and tried a lot of food before we really came, came up with a comprehensive menu. But our menu was phenomenal out of the gates. And I found a Japanese sushi chef out of Chicago that recruited come here. Thought another one I can’t remember city came from, but he was from Japan. And we really hit the ground. I mean, it was it was impressive for for being the first restaurant now. Do we learn a lot through the process? Yeah. But one thing that we do, one thing that I’ve always done is, I always love to take care of people. And one by one, that’s how we built our group. And it was one customer by one, one friend by one. And I have a lot of great friends and relationships because this business, but now I’ll give you an example, there was an individual came in with a package jacket, messy hair kind of dirty t shirt. And, you know, he said by himself said the service section, one of the servers moved him over to the next section. And so he got upset about it. And he said something under his breath. And I heard what he said. So I asked the servers to let you move him. He said, Well, I want to give this server doesn’t have a table yet. I wanted to give him the table, in fact is he didn’t want a single person you wanted to four times you want to four people in that table. So selfish to do right now. You know, I almost fired I was so upset at him, I almost fired um, but he ended up being a great waiter and just couldn’t understand it. That’s not going to work, right. So I remember talking to this guy for a while, sat down next to him. And I said, Hey, I apologize. So let’s talk, you know, and I saw that that happened. How are you doing? And so we started talking about timing to realize he knew so much about food. And it just became like a half an hour conversation with him. And afterwards, given the tour of the whole place. And he was really taken back, we bonded and he was just like, wow, you spent a lot of time with me, Amy Oh, two, he made me feel so special. And I’m like, oh, yeah, I just I really enjoyed the conversation. I didn’t think much of it. He said, I’m not supposed to let you know this. But I mean, I’m a local food critic. The food critic was super expressive time. And that was the second week we opened and think about had I not seen that, or that server would have done that to him. I might not be here talking to you today. Yeah, you know, it’s crazy. So I pride ourselves on really taking care of the guests. I mean, we go the extra mile, when we build that relationship, it’s really hard to take that relationship from us.

Mike Malatesta  17:12

And how do you you know, with all the with all the, I guess I’d say notable people who come into carnivore now, and probably most of your restaurants over the period of time. How do you? You know, I would think that most people would be gravitate towards the people who were, you know, let’s say famous, and, and maybe shy and maybe, you know, that takes over as opposed to the person like this person, for example, who just, you know, wasn’t, as far as you knew, was just a normal person there for a meal? How have you learned to, to balance that? Because I think there’s a good, like, I’ll be interested in what you say. But I think whatever you say, is going to apply to every business that that grows and becomes more notable and more. You know, with more clients and clients at higher levels, and that kind of thing. I’m curious how you’ve been, how you and your team have sort of maintained that, so that you don’t just nice to everybody.

Omar Shaikh  18:13

I don’t want to say it’s intentional. I mean, we just the culture here is that we take care of people. I mean, you know, obviously it man, I mean, if pianist comes in here, right? I can’t put him next to everybody else. So we just have to be smart about those types of things. But I mean, I think I’ve earned and built the reputation of just being building relationships and taking care of everybody across all levels. I don’t, I don’t, I never look to seek out all the athletes and CEOs that that was never my goal, but they just started coming in, we know how to take care of them. We know how to respect them, we don’t ask them for a lot. And, you know, they really respect that. And once you get in the beginning, then I started meeting some of the athletes and I thought to myself, well, this is really cool. But I, you know, I didn’t live to be like, Oh, I have to meet athletes or CEOs. And then when you start building relationships, or real friendships, and you’re really close with some of them, then the other ones want to get to know you. And it is sort of just spirals like that. And so I think we just authentically know how to take care of people. And, you know, I never thought of it like, oh, I have to go after this type of that type. I think if you’re authentic, you know, and you know how to take care of people in your hospital. All the relationships will come. And were you

Mike Malatesta  19:27

you know, the first time or the first few times that these famous people walked in. Were you excited by that intimidated by that? I’m,

Omar Shaikh  19:37

I’ve never exhibited? I mean, I don’t you know? Yeah, and I think like, No, I mean, I had dinner with Ellie here two days ago, when I sit next to him. I looked them as a friend. I don’t know if it was a baseball star. I never have. I just, you know, and to tell you the truth. If he wasn’t nice to my staff or he wasn’t a respectful person. I wouldn’t have dinner with them and I wouldn’t be a friend with him. And so those are the guys that have been with me. It’s just such a great great person. And so you know, we can talk about a lot of we’re in business together, and we can talk about a lot of things. I asked him a lot of baseball questions to understand it a little bit better. But, you know, I just don’t, I never really intimidated to meet anybody to tell you the truth. It sounds bad, but I am a big believer in myself. And I, I don’t know, I’m not many people intimidating. I just love the opportunity to meet people and get to know them and figure out how we can help them vice versa then and have a real true friendship.

Mike Malatesta  20:32

Yeah, I didn’t, you know, that’s interesting, because I, I don’t feel like I’m, I’m certainly less now. But I don’t feel like I’m intimidated to meet people. But sometimes I asked myself the question, why would that person want to meet me? You know, I sort of flip it around. Kind of Yeah, you know, so I’m not intimidated to meet them. But I also think like, oh, you know, they have all these people coming up to them all the time trying to meet them. And you know, who, you know, what, what, what do I have to offer sort of thing?

Omar Shaikh  20:58

Well, I can tell you this. I mean, they live it, they leave a lead a tough lifestyle. And they do have people constantly, you know, coming towards them. Sometimes it’s the day that they’re in the mood for it. Sometimes they’re not sometimes if they’re going to grow. I mean, they’re humans, right? And so blindly walking up to a star of some sort. Yeah, I mean, it’s, you know, you never know what you’re going to get. And I understand when, I mean, I’ve been at dinner with some of these guys, some of the bigger bigger name, guys. And, you know, you’re not in my restaurant, but like, literally 16 times people walked up to dinner, I’m so sorry. But hey, can we talk to you like, so after? Well, like, if I if I was a superstar and famous, I’d be kind of rude. So I’ll just be honest, just cuz I was exposed to these guys. And it’d be like, Look, I’m eating with my family. Like, can you respect that? Right? And so I get it. I mean, you know, walking up to one of these people blindly, it’s yeah, it’s tough.

Mike Malatesta  21:53

Yeah. Yeah. As you were saying that I was thinking, you know, put yourself in their shoes, you’re, you’re just a normal person, whatever. And you’re having dinner and 16 people come up to you during may ask you this or ask you that. It’s like, yeah, okay, I need some space.

Omar Shaikh  22:08

Yeah, you know, it’s like, I get it, and they’re so guarded. Because they, you know, they always think that people want something from them. And so there’s so many great genuine, you know, people of high stature. And I think if you catch them at the right time in the right moment, the conversations right, you know, but it’s a lot of the times it’s the same thing. Yeah.

Mike Malatesta  22:29

So you mentioned you mentioned to that you’d sold out of the other absurd, the other search, or the other restaurants that were affiliated with, with you. And I know, throughout your career, carnivores been sort of that? I don’t know, I call it that stable. Maybe the home run. And you’ve had, yeah, other you’ve had, you know, from the first one, you mentioned, you’ve had all other a lot of other restaurant experiences. And I, I guess I want I want to understand what makes you know, first of all, you read about how hard the restaurant businesses, but I don’t get to talk to too many people like you who actually have lived it and can tell me Is it is it just is it just that it’s hard? Are they all these other factors? And then how do you keep going and reinventing concepts and stuff? One thing I always wonder about too, like, you know, when you shut down a restaurant, and you redo it into another restaurant, you have no income coming in all this time. And I’m always wondering, how do you like I think about my own so if I, if I shut down a location in my own business, right? One of the locations I be, you know, I’d be, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t be happy I’d be. I’d be scaring. So

Omar Shaikh  23:41

yeah, but I mean, a lot of the times, it’s like, if you run a restaurant, right, you have some reserves. And knowing that, you know, a lot of the times if we were to pull the plug, because it’s just not making money anymore, after so many years and have decent run. And so hopefully, you had some reserves there, right? And then you can kind of redo the whole concept. And when you do a brand new concept, the sales are going to be much higher, and everyone’s going to come again, a lot of the times it’s just going out and getting alone to re concept everything for a new concept. And it’s part of the game.

Mike Malatesta  24:15

Have you been able to? I don’t know, have you been able to figure out like with carnivore that’s had this, you know, been so long standing and the other ones that have maybe been shorter? What it is, like, what is that secret? What is it that keeps people coming back to the same place and not getting tired of it or not running down or whatever? Well,

Omar Shaikh  24:36

Carnivore’s one in a million. I mean it just each year, the numbers keep getting better after 15 years and so comes down to the staff. I have a phenomenal manager Mark Emajor have a phenomenal staff. It’s a concept where we know exactly who we are. And we’ve built a strong brand and relationship throughout the city that we have so many regulars here and It just keeps growing. You know, I mean, you know, we’re known throughout the NBA, we’re known throughout MLB, we’re known throughout, you know, football world, but you know, and so it’s like, it just keeps growing as the more there’s the work continues to get out. And so, every time every weekend, we have somebody new, even after 15 years, new customers come in here. And as soon as they come in are blown away, and they’ll go out and tell 20 people, right, so that’s kind of what we’ve done to grow it. You know, it’s, it’s consistent. Every time you come to carnivore meat, you might get an overstate overcook steak here and there, or replace that right right away, you know, apologize, maybe bring a free concert, but it’s the consistency in the high level service, that just keep people coming back. Alright, and for me, personally, for me, personally, you know, I just had a heading and then my other partner wanted to grow so fast, we didn’t have the infrastructure to grow. And I killed myself trying to do all these other concepts. And when you start growing, you lose that quality, you lose that attention to detail. And now that I’m just back down a carnivore like not saying it’s because of me, but it has something to do with me, our numbers that are an all time high, because I can focus on the guests, I can focus on one place and not be drawn a million different directions. And some of our concepts just weren’t good to be honest with ya. You know, much. I failed a lot. I gotta tell you what, I’ve learned a lot from those. And honestly, it’s it’s brutal, brutally tough business. Right now we’re doing as much if not more than five days a week and I was doing seven weeks pre pandemic, we are through the roof busy here. But the food cost is up, stakes are up 62% You know, I mean, it’s just insane. Supply chain is out of control the labor issues, the shortage is insanity. So now that business is back, we’re dealing with other factors that are not allowing us to make the bottom line that we can make. Good news is I have other sources of income and all my staff are making a lot of money in tips. We’re paying the back of the house a lot more. And that makes me happy it’s easier to manage it’s easier to operate and carnivore serves other purposes and just making money but you know, those food costs my my food cuz whenever my team every week, my ribeye cost is 95% 95%. Think about that. That leaves me 5% left to cover the rent to cover like, I mean, it’s crazy. Now that’s not our overall thoughts. But that’s what my rebuy cost is. And I can’t charge $150 For that ribeye to make it a 35% cost or whatever it’s going to be, you know what I mean? You just can’t. And so we’ve got a challenge to work with the pandemic now to work through this. Hopefully food costs can drop and labor shortage resolves itself in the next year. And you know, our industry is hurting really badly right now.

Mike Malatesta  27:47

Yeah. And how long were you closed for during the pandemic? Like close?

Omar Shaikh  27:52

Nine months? Six, nine. I can’t remember. Yeah, yeah.

Mike Malatesta  27:56

Yeah. Yeah. All right. So let’s talk about let’s let’s, let’s move away from restaurants and move into the Union to your work in the community. Because, you know, as I mentioned, in your bio, you were poor chair, VISIT Milwaukee, which is a what do you what do you call that? That’s basically the the tourism. Yeah, yeah. from Milwaukee.

Omar Shaikh  28:22

Yeah. So VISIT Milwaukee is basically the tourism body that will promote the city, you know, outbound drive tourism from a lot of different perspectives, partner with all the festivals. And really, the main job is to put bets and hits, you know, book conventions and put beds in hips.

Mike Malatesta  28:39

Okay. Okay. So that work in the work with their convention center board is really aligned pretty closely, then.

Omar Shaikh  28:46

Oh, yeah, very much. So. Yeah. And well, I mean, when I got there, 10 years ago, I joined the board. Five years. Some Braves players want some reservations. Five years ago. Five years ago, I became the board chair. They asked me to become the board chair and I took the position. And you know, I stepped into a little bit of a mess to be honest with you and I, I’m not one of those guys. I’ve read about you. I think I have a pretty good idea of what you represent who you are. You’re not one of those guys that just dilly dally is nothing do you go all in? Right. And I’m the same way if I if I’m in board chair, I want to make a huge difference. I want my stamp and legacy piece of whatever it’s going to be. And so I almost stepped down in a week because I realized that there were so many things happening within that organization I didn’t agree with the leadership was lacking. There were people not being treated properly. They weren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing. I mean, frankly speaking, and I know it sounds bad. So I spent a lot of time really digging in deeper than I should. And then the same thing the WCG I went in got Got to know that Wisconsin Center district and to I mean, sorry to say they were falling short, too. And so I reorganized, VISIT Milwaukee, did a national search, and actually ended up finding somebody here Peggy William Smith, who was running all the restaurant division to Marcus but she is a dynamo. Now that you have a lot of the tourism since he has in hospitality, but not not national connections. And, you know, when it comes to that industry, but I knew who she was, as a person, I know, she’s a knock down doors kind of woman, I interviewed people from around the country. And I knew and I told the group who was met with my search mentor said, she’s the one. She’s not just connected here. She’s respected. I know, she’s, she’s grinders, she’s gonna work hard, and still learn, smart people can learn. And she is phenomenal. She’s gonna take that. So so we together then kind of reorganized, I started letting a lot of management go before and then and then more management got let go after she left. And now she’s built a team that’s really set up for success. There were things happening there that were just, you know, and I won’t talk about all of them, but had to get some lawyers involved. And I you know, I toss and turn for like six months and I and how two women are being treated in general. So did that.

Omar Shaikh  31:15

Set up, set up, set everything up for success? Peggy is gonna run with it. Then worked with the DOA secretary and the GOV worker, my friend, Jim Cantore, who’s chair over there, John Manley who’s consultant, and we find a national search committee and we brought in guy named Marty Brooks to run the Wisconsin Senator district. I knew he was the guy right away. I mean, the first interview, I just remember thinking to myself, how do we hire this guy, even though legally, we can’t afford leaves. And I remember calling him on our cell phone every day I wasn’t supposed to. And he turns to his wife, he’s like, because it’s all mine. He keeps calling me on my cell phone. Like, I knew we had to get them. And so we finally found a way, after a couple months, we brought him in this guy ran Madison Square Garden, you know, and the former CEO was a great guy, nice guy. He really liked him a lot for us. But he was kind of the head of security. And then he was put into that position. He wasn’t qualified to really run the whole shebang. And I feel bad saying that cuz he was a great, great, great guy. But he wasn’t. And I had to do what’s right for that organization, what’s right for the city. So now, and these two organizations between visit and W CD, they weren’t getting along, there’s all this finger pointing going on. And nothing and they weren’t thrive. They weren’t doing what they’re supposed to do. And so now, we have Peggy, she built the whole team. We have Marty, he’s built his team, we’re going to crush it with a new convention center completion, we are going to get so many more conventions here, oh, once this pandemic is done, and bring hundreds of 1000s of visitors here to you know, pay for infrastructure. So during that five year period, I mean, there’s my main my main legacy piece that I wanted to work on is brought in like Steve Bosman, let me see he went on to the road builders brought in buddy Julius from the firm LLC. We hired him work the path. Thanks, you know, Peter Fagan. There was so many people that joined us to take trips to Madison to get this done. And, you know, we in 20 years, nobody did it. And so we we did it, I mean, got more obligation from the state Robin Vos, Jeff Fitzgerald got 22 million from 22 point 5 million from them so we could bond out for the convention center. groundbreakings coming up this month, we’re gonna do a foreigner and $25 million completion of that convention center. And there’s going to be billions of dollars ancillary development happening since then. And I even tell you like, the Bucs were like, Whoa, what? We didn’t think you’d get that done. Now they’re building a box hotel, but they needed to see that we can get that done. I think fourth in Wisconsin is going to be a hotel tube for conventioneers. As you seen, our city’s not really growing and people don’t want to talk about it. We don’t have population growth we’ve had, we’ve had failed leadership here stagnant leadership. And now we need now is the time when the mayor is going to be stepping out to get a real bold leader to move the city forward. That is city leaders behind him to grow. But this convention center is going to help because we’re gonna bring hundreds of 1000s of more people here now. And I think people are gonna fall in love with the city. And when they do, we can have more and more people move here because we need growth.

Mike Malatesta  34:05

And what was before I get to that, I want to you want to talk about the growth thing. But what was the hardest? The hardest or the most difficult, the most challenging thing about getting is the convention center expansion. Approved and done.

Omar Shaikh  34:19

So it was like a four year path and except stagnant for 20 years. And so nobody thought that it could get done. And so we had to work a path, a real path because convention centers like Okay, five surform is a shiny, all the shiny bells and whistles and be honest and the team people understand what that is. The general public here does not really understand what a convention center is. So it’s not like we could go out on this campaign and show all these pretty pictures and like, you know, we had to really, really work kind of a covert behind the scenes operations with all sides of the political aisle to get this done. And in these days, it’s just not as easy you know, I mean, it’s like we finally Got the state to come around to understand that the city is not going to give us any money. We’re not going to get much help there. The county I will say Chris Aibling was the Chris a billion Teague were there at the time. And those are two of the smartest guys. I know, they helped us a lot. A lot of the funding models, they really spent time and in energy to work on it. But you know, it’s like, you know, we ran into like, Okay, guys, last speaker, boss, Jeff Fitzgerald, you know, we don’t have any money from the city, we’re going to need you guys to fund this from Milwaukee. And they don’t, they don’t want to do it. Because you know, if the mayor goes on, blast them publicly, who wants to help them? Right? So it’s like we whoever the new mayor is, you’ve got to reach across the political aisle, you’re not going to agree on everything. But we’ve got to take the things we agree on and move it forward. Let’s be adults. Now. Let it kill the stupid egos get in the way and bless each other. It goes to both sides. But I will tell you this. A lot of people don’t like speaker Voss, he’s way more pragmatic than you think. And he’s a good guy. And he’s the reason we got this done. So it’s like, you know, hey, we got we got finally got them to come around. A deal got killed like six times, hey, the city said he’s not going to give any money. I’m sorry. Alright. But this is good state run facility, a lot of the money flows up to the state, this is going to be good for everybody with with with Swidler data and facts, employment, you know, all that type of stuff. Because what you’ve got to give these people facts and data, and we’re able to do that, you know, and provide what the ROI is and all that. And that’s why they did it. But I just to remember, it was like a month before we were trying to go out and get this done. And it was we said the city doesn’t have any money. Sorry, you know, try to talk to the mayor. He’s trying man was working with us trying to do some things, but you know, they doesn’t have much money. And so I just remember, Monday morning, I was getting calls. Are you effing kidding? And I’m like what we said, there was an article that came up their city found like $28 million for a trip for the streetcar. And, oh, not to say this request or good or bad thing, but I thought he didn’t have any money and that blindsided us. So I can’t even tell you all the things and like I thought the deal died six times. One of the last ones there was like don’t I shouldn’t tell you this. But a woman that we work the path with, she pretty much forgot everything that she was supposed to do legislator and almost killed the deal. And that was after four years of work too. So it almost didn’t get done. And I I would have died. That was four years of medicine trips of dinners, a carnivore of you know, really working with all sides, bringing in a lot of people to put effort to get this done. If that wouldn’t work that would have been that would have deflated me.

Mike Malatesta  37:42

So now they got done. Yeah. So now this done groundbreaking coming up. VISIT Milwaukee is, you know, functioning at a high level, you said, you know, you think that this is this combination is going to going to allow Milwaukee to crush it. What do you see? For you? What is crushing it mean? Omar what so I

Omar Shaikh  37:59

mean, like we’re going so we were turning down a lot of conventions that we couldn’t even take before. Our convention centers in the bottom two thirds percentile once we actually build this maybe modern Convention Center, more meeting space more outdoors. But I mean, we’re gonna win so many more conventions. We couldn’t take a lot of those conventions before. And our new convention center means we win a lot our business. So what does that mean? The hotels are thriving, the restaurants are thriving, the retails, thriving transportation, a lot more people outbound coming here, paying for infrastructure, all the tech space from the hotels, a lot of it from restaurants. Was it from outsiders? Yeah. And that’s what we want? Well, in addition to that, we need population growth. But this helps a great deal. Critical.

Mike Malatesta  38:45

And did you encounter when you first saw, I was thinking this is this to me, is Milwaukee. So you tell me whether you encountered this or not. But people look at the convention center that we have now. And they go what’s wrong with it? You know, it’s pretty good, right, that people maybe don’t understand that that was that a challenge that you had to sort of get past as well, early on?

Omar Shaikh  39:05

A little bit. I mean, it’s all it’s all data to tell data. And I wouldn’t expect 99.9% of people to really understand that. I mean, if I wasn’t in the business I was in, even if I just worked downtown, I wouldn’t understand. But the purpose there from years ago, it’s so outdated. And we’re just getting up, you know, the competitors in the two two cities are just they’re updating it, they’re investing it because they understand the importance of it. So, you know, it’s, it’s just a lot of revenue that comes in here to the city flows up to the stadium. It’s good for all and so I wouldn’t expect people to understand that to tell you the truth. But no, it’s certainly I think a lot of people that work there, and a lot of people that know knows that we weren’t as competitive and we definitely need to update it and expand it for under $25 million.

Mike Malatesta  39:50

So you mentioned the mayor and the mayor is it’s been slated to be the ambassador to Luxembourg, Luxembourg. I think it’s gonna happen now. Yeah, under the Biden administration, so we’re gonna, we’re gonna have a new mayor, or at least we’re going to have a new mayor, interim mayor. And then we’re going to have another election for mayor Milwaukee, you you mentioned, you know, a couple of the attributes that you think we need in a mayor. What? Like, who’s the idea? Not? I’m not asking you to tell me who you think the ideal candidate is, unless you want to, I’m more interested in since you have this great perspective, not only as a business owner and an entrepreneur, but also being involved in these organizations that are that are designed to promote to promote Milwaukee and the economic activity in Milwaukee, what what are the characteristics of the mayor that the next mayor of Milwaukee that you think are absolutely for

Omar Shaikh  40:43

me, it’s for me, it’s not somebody that’s indebted to everybody. For me, it’s somebody that has strong, bold vision for our city, somebody that understands how to navigate the political landscape, but at the same time really understand the importance of all areas of our city, that’s going to be a real leader, take hard stances, and not be afraid to piss people off. I mean, a real leader is going to be somebody that just cheers for the city as CEO of our city, that’s going to go out and win business for us. I remember from my business to Chicago, my brother in law was the chief of staff around the manual. And I’m like, Hey, can you give me a meeting with it was Tuesday, can you give me a meeting with Thursday? And he starts laughing at me. He’s like, Yes, I’m his chief of staff. But no, you’re not getting a meeting with Thursday. Next week, he said, Oh, my let me show you a schedule. He was getting up at 430, driving himself two days in a row throughout Indiana pitching companies himself to move to Chicago. I mean, that is a bold leader that’s going up selling it himself, when he’s somebody that’s passionate. We need somebody that’s like, not going to be status quo and want to climb the ranks or do things to keep this job, the city deserves so much more than that city deserves a real CEO, that is bold and visionary, that’s going to make some real hard decisions. Because we’ve got a lot of problems here, we’ve got a lot of issues, and there’s a lot of stuff to fix. And leaders here are willing to help. There’s so many of us smile, say there’s so many of us. But there’s quite a few of us that are willing to pitch and roll our sleeves up to get things done. And that’s where you want to you want to you want to lean on your business leaders to really help drive things forward, instead of going around to get things done. And so that’s, that’s my opinion. As you can see, I’m passionate about it.

Mike Malatesta  42:26

Yeah. What about you political ambitions for you at some point in your life?

Omar Shaikh  42:32

My ambitions right now I have three kids in college. I’m one in middle school, and one and two and high school. And I have projects over the next five years that are gonna I’m gonna have to give my life up to you know, who knows, after that? I don’t know, I don’t ever want to say no. I’m a very political myself right now. And I’m more I’m more than just behind the scenes, political. I mean, I, you know, I’m on the news every week, every other week. I like standing up for things that I believe in. But I don’t know. I mean, who wants to be a politician anymore these days? Like, you know, why would you want to take all those bullets? 50% of the people are gonna hate you. Are you really gonna be able to accomplish what you want to accomplish? I think a crazy amount of that job.

Mike Malatesta  43:16

I think it’s Yeah, I think I agree with you. I think you I think you have to be a little crazy. But I think you have to be a little crazy to do a lot of great things. Oh, yeah. Without a doubt. And, and no matter what you’re going to do, whether it’s politics, or anything else, if you’re doing if you if you’re crazy about it, you’re passionate about it, and you actually are making things happen, you’re always gonna have people who want to support you, and you’re always gonna have people who want to shoot some arrows at you, right?

Omar Shaikh  43:40

I mean, I trust you. I mean, I used to bother me, but I, you know, I took a lot of bullets throughout pandemic, and, you know, man, I just ju st, you know, it’s like, a lot of things just didn’t make sense to me. And so I’m gonna stand up for business. I understand that this is a real thing I got covered myself. But you know, just gonna have to learn to call it a call this with it and be smart. You know, I think that people are looking at one side, you’re not looking at the other side. I mean, you know, if people kill themselves, and how many people lost their family businesses, I can’t support their kids. I mean, there’s got to be a balance here. Like, you know, just one sided. So yeah, I took a lot of bullets throughout all that. But I knew I was doing the right thing. I was no standing up to the right thing. And so I didn’t bother me, I would tell you seems like nine out of 10 support me for that versus the one out of 10 that wants to save that thing. So I’m good.

Mike Malatesta  44:27

Okay, cool. So these things that you’re going to commit the next five years of your life to, besides your kids getting through college, which will be which is a huge commitment for anybody. Yeah. What what are they? I mean, you’ve got these new businesses. Yeah. Well, I’m not sure how

Omar Shaikh  44:44

Yeah, I mean, a lot of I would say, consultants gotten quite busy, which is great carnivore, I stick to but, you know, it’s more than the developments. You know, I’ve been able to partner with Josh, Chris, Mac and Tony. And so we’re, you know, we’re partners in the food hall, which is going to be a massive Project for downtown for years in the works, small equity partner and some of the real estate as well. And so I, I really enjoy that part though, because I bring hospitality to all of this. And so it’s like touring tenants, a lot of the times that it’s tenant from suburbs, wherever they are, feels great, because every time it’s the blind tour, I have a relationship with somebody there. And we know how to get through and we know how to if we really are trying to fight for their business. We’re doing things that I believe other developers aren’t doing. But the hospitality piece of it is so critical, and makes it so much better in my eyes. So we’re leasing up there at the avenue I feel great. And I think the food hall is gonna change Milwaukee, I’m going to spend years of traveling with the team 70 Food halls around the country, behind the scenes tours, some of the best ones, adult gaming facilities. So we’re adding in, you know, the best elements of all that we’ve seen from great Connie, all local great chefs, 50 person, massive central bar, to shuffleboard courts to Top Golf to selfie museum to snip ball, it’s going to be a work lift place area. And like nobody’s gonna ever seen anything like this. Maybe even nationally, because we spent so much time researching it was insane. And the product we’re going to put out is going to be great phase one coming up here in a month or so. But then really, it’s three more vendors by December and by February, we’re going to maintain vendors. And that’s when like make February, March, March, April is when we do our big kickoff will silently open next month. But it’s going to be something that changes Milwaukee because income there’s a millennial get a craft beer and work on your laptop, bring your family there, they can do several different things. You can host athletes there, you can host CEOs there, you can host corporate there, there’s something for everybody, it’s going to be the place that like a lot of people don’t want to go to nightclubs or bars. But there’s something to do here where you can come and meet people and gather like a living room of downtown and downtown really does happen. And so I think that we’re gonna change Maki, I wholeheartedly believe that we’re in the center downtown. And that’s a that’s a project that so desperately needs to be turned around. And I get when I say that, like I’m Josh and Tony, the visionaries behind it. Chris soja, the architects visionary. I’m just the guy that a lot of people don’t get credit for it. But I’m not the brains behind this operation. I promise you that.

Mike Malatesta  47:19

And this is happening at the old what most people in Milwaukee know is the Grand Avenue Mall. Yeah, the farmer shops, bread shops at Grand Avenue. And I think people well, that was sort of written off for a long time. And, and, and people probably still have this, people that are listening to this might still have this impression that a food hall is like the food court, you know, at a mall. And this is something

Omar Shaikh  47:44

way, different, way, way, way, way different all local, all experiential, you know, food court, national brands, more setup for just lunch. You know, we travel the country. And the whole experiential behind me is I remember walking into Calvin, Brooklyn, I ordered a sandwich. And I saw them put out a slab of brisket where I could smell it, chop it off in front of me 1000s of barbecue sauce, put it on the bond, put the side so to me, and I was like, wow, I could smell that I could almost taste it. And it was like, wow, the experience behind that and everything else they were doing, you know, food court. Namale is yeah, you’re going for lunch in and out. There’s no experience to it. Nothing wrong with that, but that’s what it is. We’re gonna we’re gonna blow people away with this.

Mike Malatesta  48:33

Who do you think down the road? Who do you think? Is there another city that you think people who come to Milwaukee will be saying, you know, Milwaukee’s as good as, you know, whatever. Is there another city that you think?

Omar Shaikh  48:49

Well, to go back, like talking about mocking? I think so 10 years ago, like, people weren’t proud to be in Milwaukee. It’s just true. You know, yeah, they don’t sit on our city. Young people couldn’t wait to move out of here. And so it kills me that we don’t have population growth here because I think we have so much opportunity, right? To recruit companies and there’s so much going on here. But I’m seeing more people are empty home shirts, shout out to Brick City has a great company, they’re going to come to the food hall. You’re seeing a lot of that branding and people like Yunus MVP, best player in the league here now and winning a championship was unbelievable Christian Yelich two years in a row, the best player in baseball, and I think they’re gonna go deep this year. And, and you know, it’s just like, there’s so much to be proud of, you got the water, you got all these developments. So I think that younger people are really taking pride in here. But I I think that we need to do a better job as a city to go out recruit more companies Downtown, but also focus on the population growth you’re seeing, turning of a tide of people being really proud of the city. We didn’t quite get to showcase it with the DNC, obviously. But that was that showed the world class and so I’m so bullish on the city, I really believe in it. And, you know, with the rights to the city, we can have a lot of population growth there. You know, it’s like Chicago, a lot of people moved out of there got really dangerous and there are a lot of things happening. Minneapolis was in flames. Everyone moved out of there. So where are those young people moving? Right? We need to capture that we need to capture those those opportunities.

Mike Malatesta  50:21

Yeah, I think I totally agree with you on the on the next CEO for the city, not not just picking up the phone and going out and visiting businesses and telling, you know, getting them to move here, but really promoting the city to, to young people and, and making it really, really, really selling it as a destination. Because I’m not from Milwaukee. I’ve lived here for 30 years. But when I came here, I came from the East Coast, and I had no idea where Milwaukee was. And I still think there’s a lot of that out there. And it shouldn’t be especially because when I when you do bring people here, they’re like, holy crap, you know, I didn’t know you have all this stuff. And now with

Omar Shaikh  51:03

oh, I mean, people get wild, every day that come to watch because they didn’t realize the mark is Super Bowl city. There’s a lot of great things happening here. You know, and so funny, I think Kolten Wong just wrote that article. I don’t know if you saw that. The secret sauce. I didn’t. But he said, you know, he talked about the  sauce of the team is really cool. And he, but he said before, before I was playing in Milwaukee, I would come in here, the only thing I knew is kind of cool. And he goes, this takes for granted carnivore. That’s all I knew. Which is so cool to shut off. But like, Yeah, I hear people like coming in from even even Yelets. Like, I remember meeting him when he played for Miami. And he said, Yeah, my whole experiences were hotel carnivore, and then play. But some of the other players actually, that’s actually go out and experience the city. See, there’s a lot of cool stuff here. I mean, it really is, there’s a lot of great architecture, you got the water you got follow Trump, I mean, there’s so many good things. It’s just we need to get them here. Once they get them here. They like

Mike Malatesta  52:00

I love the way, by the way that you you know, developed your own. Your own website is Omar and k.com. That’s really cool. Thank you. Yeah. Did you think did you did that idea come to you right away? Or were you gonna put your name in there? And then do it or No,

Omar Shaikh  52:15

I just, you know, I don’t know what to I don’t know how to describe what I do for a living anymore. Yeah. Okay. So, you know, and so a number of companies, and I have companies that aren’t even on the website, too. And so, you know, I kind of represent myself and try to create, you know, be great to people and create a good brand. And so I put as much as I can into the website, and that way people can go and support or see what was happening with what I’m doing. And so, you know, I’ve just been doing this a long time now, and have built a lot of great relationships with media and people here. And so very humbling. I frickin love the city. And I love so many people here.

Mike Malatesta  52:53

That’s really cool on the site to how you have all the links to, you know, different stories or whatever about the things you’re involved in.

Omar Shaikh  53:02

The past couple of months, I’ve got to get that updated. But I want to know, I want people to know what I represent what I stand for. I mean, I think that’s important now, too. And so, yeah, I mean, I’m not going to be everybody’s friend, but I’m getting a point in my career where I want to do what’s right. Not just make everybody happy.

Mike Malatesta  53:20

So a couple more things before we before we close here, um, you’ve had many different it sounds like you’ve had a lot of partners, different partners, some long, long standing partners, maybe some that are that are newer, and I’m always curious, because I had partners in my business for a long time too. And you hear a lot of stories about partnerships and such. And I’m wondering what your experience what what you what your experience was and what you would advise people when it comes to whether you should have partners, or you know, how you how you vet partners, or how you collaborate best with partners, all those partner related,

Omar Shaikh  54:01

I think it’s important to going in and in. And I learned this over time as to understanding what our roles are as partners. So if you know your role, and you’re performing really well, you can feel it feel pretty secure about it. I have a takeaway from each and every one of my partners I’ve worked with and I don’t have any bad things to say about anybody. I have learned so much from all of them. And, you know, I will say that my recent partners guy named Josh crisnet, from Hampel, I just you know, I want to stand up and yell that the guy’s such a good dude. And he’s just, you know, he’s not just Okay, so I’ll give you a story. You know, he I’m not a developer, but I’m starting to be involved in several properties and developments and parking lots things of that nature. And so I’m learning but there’s a restaurant guy this whole time and restaurant people. I’m I’m way more organized. I mean, getting restaurant people to an answer an email. I mean, it’s just it’s a different type of business. We’re involved in our businesses, right. And so, but I didn’t, I remember coming to the first few meetings and said, Hey, we kept asking around, everyone’s kept saying your name would you be We want to do a football here, which should be canceled. So I said, I’ll take a look at it. So I remember meeting with them and then thinking to myself, I have opened restaurants, I don’t really know football. So I said, Look, I’m just being honest, I have never developed food, all the infrastructure from this point be different. And it might be over my head. And so they said, Okay, well, let’s start traveling the country, learning about it, and then we’ll take it from there. And so got to be friends with them, learning that they’re very genuine people, great intentions. Josh is the guy that partners everybody in all these deals, because he loves, he leaves money on the table. And that’s been a success for him. He’s not a greedy guy. There’s money on the table to help people succeed. And I remember, he’s like, Oh, we just really liked each other. And next thing, you know, I’m putting the food on, and I’ll partner on the real estate on and partner all these other deals. And I’m thinking to myself, Wow, this is incredible. But I remember going some meetings and not really understanding a lot of what they’re saying. And so I was in to deals with them already. And I went back to my wife, and I said, Look, this is way over my head. And I’m not afraid to admit it. I can’t fake it to make it. I don’t understand anything these guys are saying. And so I remember going to Justin telling him, Look, I don’t think I’m the right fit for you. I don’t know what the hell this stuff means it’s way over my head. Remember, like grade math anyways. And he started laughing. And he said, he said, Okay, once a week, an hour, come here, Tuesday mornings, seven in the morning, seven to 9787 to nine, I’m gonna go over all these funny models view. And I’m gonna explain how that works. And I said, Okay, well, what if I don’t understand this? Well, then it might be a problem. But I’m gonna go I’m gonna teach you. So I remember by the fourth class, it started to make sense. He’s still way over my head. But I’m starting to understand all these deals work. And a lot of it was just the lingo, the real estate lingo. That’s why I didn’t understand I didn’t know what a waterfall was, I didn’t understand, you know, I didn’t know what an eight cap was, you know, so no, IR is all that stuff. Now I understand it. And it’s much easier to understand. It’s just sometimes they’ll still lose me, because he’s been doing this 20 years. But that’s the kind of guy like, he’s developed a billion dollars of real estate, he sat down with me every week to teach me that’s, that’s a leader, that’s a partner that you want to be a part of, I learned from the guy every day. And my strength is not really understanding the numbers and not driving the numbers or putting together perform. Like, that’s what him and his team do. But I’m putting a lot of relationships to the table, a lot of the political to the table, a lot of the capital stacks, you know, I’ll help move, a lot of things come with some of the creative ideas, the hospitality component, we just talked about it last night, we know our roles, were great each of our roles, and that’s why we’re incredible team, I think we’re going to go on to do some great things. Again, at this point in my career, thought it’d be winding down, but I’m so excited to learn that I’m not gonna say I’ve been sleeping, but that’s all good.

Mike Malatesta  57:47

Yeah, well, you’re the kind of guy that’s always going to be winding up, you know, and I don’t think I, I sort of, I’ve said this a few times, but you know, I’m 55 now. And I, I’m at that age where, you know, you begin to be if you’re not careful, you begin to be around people who are starting to wind down, and I don’t want to be a person that’s winding down, I want to be a person that’s winding up because I feel like and not that I have any special gifts or talents. But man, I got a long I got a long time to live and living is not winding down. I mean, you can relax and that kind of thing. But living

Omar Shaikh  58:24

well, you’re you’re not, nor in a very successful entrepreneur, and you’re, you achieve that success by hard work. And so you’re not one of those guys, that’s gonna let your brain go dead. Right. But on the other hand, when I’m younger than you, but if I had your net worth, I might wind up you know, I mean, you got to enjoy life, too. Yeah, a lot of expenses coming up. And people are like, how much are you worth? I’m worth negative, negative. You know what I mean? Yeah, I

Mike Malatesta  58:52

do know what you mean. Yeah. Yeah, I can’t wait to get back to the day before. I’m back to zero. I’m broke. I know that. Yeah. Well, they look at you and they think, Oh, look at you, you know, look what fell into your lap. Right. And I, you know, that’s very, very common, where people just don’t have an appreciation for everything that’s going on. You know, behind the scenes, I, I just I have a book coming out. And I wrote about some of this stuff, you know, one of these, there’s this you know, once you get to a certain level people, one assume that you are always there to they assume that wherever you are, you look like you’re in a position where you have the world, you know, by the tail or whatever, and they don’t know and have appreciation for nor do they care, really what’s going on inside and all the things you have to deal with and

Omar Shaikh  59:43

you’re dead on. They don’t see last night, I got an hour and a half asleep because of mine tossing and turning because there’s so many things to do in such a short timeframe that I’ve got it. They don’t see the battles that you have to face. They don’t understand any of that, but it’s refreshing to talk to somebody that’s been there done because we know the battles that we face and like, you know, man as an entrepreneur, like I have a lot of really close friends and I’ve gotten what Joe Sweeney calls a wingman now, and I’ve mentors that I go to and that’s saved my life. But it’s still a lonely path as an entrepreneur sometimes, man, you know that like, you second guessed yourself, and but you know, I love it. I love it. I love what I do.

Mike Malatesta  1:00:24

Well, I can’t think of a better way to end this. So I’m I got a lot more questions, but I’m gonna end it there because that seems like a natural place. Probably need a nap.

Omar Shaikh  1:00:34

Well, hey, let’s, let’s let’s let’s go grab a beer or a bottle of wine sometime. I’d love to get to know you more.

Mike Malatesta  1:00:39

Let’s do it. Oh, my thanks so much for being on the show.

Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta

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