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Restaurateur Interview Series: Ann Gentry of Real Food Daily

Real Food Daily
414 N La Cienega Blvd (at Oakwood)
West Hollywood, California 90048

514 Santa Monica Blvd (at 5th St)
Santa Monica, California 90401

Owner: Ann Gentry

Is this your first restaurant? Yes

What has been your greatest professional success and your biggest setback?
Its one and the same. In January 1994, only seven months after opening my first restaurant, first business, a serious earthquake struck Los Angeles. While nobody at RFD was hurt, our building was: The parapet fell into rubble in front of the restaurant, and it took four months to clean everything up. In the meantime, RFD was inundated with phone calls, handwritten messages, and business cards left at the front door asking when the restaurant would reopen, with several people asking how they could help. During that time, I realized that RFD was bigger than a just restaurant—it was a lifestyle. Buoyed by the outpouring of support, we did our part to rebuild the neighborhood, feeding plenty of construction workers along the way, and reopened four months later.

You might call this a set back as imagine opening a any kind of business and seven months later you are closed down do to unforeseen causes. Nevertheless, I used this temporary setback as a time to recharge and re-set the direction of where I wanted to take RFD.

What’s your favorite dish on the menu?
The simplest foods, The Basics: whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, root vegetables, sautéed leafy greens, homemade pickles.

What’s the most popular appetizer on the menu? Hands down, Nachos! Spelled Not-chos on our menu. A luscious gooey cheesy delicious satisfying dish of layers of tortilla chips, house made melted cashew cheese, black beans, pico de gallo, tofu sour cream and guacamole.

Most popular entrée? Daily Specials

Most popular dessert? The original chocolate chip cookie we have been making since we opened.

How often do you change your menu items? Do you have daily or weekly specials? How do you choose those specials?
We offer two hot entrée specials daily, one changes monthly and the other weekly. We also offer a weekly entrée salad. Monthly we rotate our desserts.

Do you have gluten-free, soy-free, and sugar-free options on your menu? What are a few of those?

Gluten-free: The Nachos, enchiladas, pizza and a chocolate cake, choc chip cookie and cupcake are GF along with most salads.

Soy-free: We keep a list in our menu manual of all dishes that are soy free. There are numerous and our wait staff is educated about the ingredients in our recipes, so just ask.

Sugar-free: We sparingly use an organic cane sugar in a few of our desserts. Mostly we sweeten with maple syrup or agave nectar.

Do you use eco-friendly packaging? What else do you do to reduce your environmental impact?
RFD uses biodegradable to-go containers and our marketing materials such as menus, business cards, and in store promotional materials are printed using soy-based ink on paper that contains 100% post-consumer recycled waste. Paper used office-wide, including bathroom tissue, is made from 100% post-consumer recycled content.

Energy efficient hand air blowers in restrooms replace paper towels. Energy Star equipment can be found in offices and kitchen.RFD participates in the Santa Monica Food Waste Composting program which diverts all of the pre-consumer food scraps from kitchen prepping and RFD is a Santa Monica certified green business.

If you could eat at any vegan restaurant in the world where would it be?
My own place, Real Food Daily. It’s the security that I know exactly what I am getting.

Do you have any advice for those wanting to start a vegetarian/vegan restaurant?
You’d best have a strong work ethic, your communication skills need to be developed, a good sense of humor, attention to detail, patience and perseverance. You’ll need funding and location, location is everything.

Thank you Ann for joining us for our Interview Series! We love your restaurant and your delicious cookbooks! If you are a restaurant that would like to join our interview series please let us know!

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