We had the good fortune of connecting with Oz Blackaller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Oz, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I began to evolve the idea of being an entrepreneur at a young age. My mom launched and made two businesses successful when I was growing up so I got to see her working hard to be successful and that inspired me. My dad told me a story of how he and his brothers in law tried starting a business when the Mexican economy crashed in the early ’80s but it didn’t come to fruition. I grew up being taught that I was going to go attend University to secure making a living. Entrepreneurship was always part of our family conversations. That idea matured a little bit during my first two years in college. Before starting Cueva Bar back in 2010, I had tried to start one business and help expand another one when I lived in Virginia. For years, my closest friends and family whom I’ve cooked for in the past had suggested I opened some sort of food business and little by little I began to form an idea and a plan. When my wife and I moved to San Diego with our son who was three at the time we already had a business plan to start a restaurant/empanada shop so when I lost my job here in San Diego I approached Jo and suggested we start our business. I felt that in order to succeed at any business I had to feel confident of the product and happy doing it, so I brought together my love for cooking, catering to people, and helping create good memories around the table.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I began my culinary career when my wife and I decided to launch Cueva Bar now De Nada Kitchen & Market. Prior to taking on a head chef role I had just been a home cook, passionate about delicious food and passionate about bringing people around the table for a good time. I believe everything I did prior to opening a restaurant helped me build the foundation of my restaurant owner career, from working my way up in a human resources professional setting to learning about HACCAP, lean manufacturing, QA, and many other food manufacturing aspects found in the poultry industry. A quick lesson I acquired was that I needed to stay true to the main reason why I decided to start a business. I needed to be happy while doing it and enjoy every day, specifically because I was going to go into the food industry. I learned that I needed to keep a good work/life balance and while that’s hard in the food industry, I work at it on a daily basis. My brand is simply about bringing people together, creating community, all with the help of food and a space that nurtures relationships.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There is so much to do in San Diego. If this was during spring or summer this is an option for itinerary DAY 1 Dinner at De Nada Kitchen & Market DAY2 Breakfast at Great Maple, Coronado beach, dinner at Soichi. DAY 3 Breakfast at Morning Glory, a bike ride around town, dinner at home. DAY 4 Breakfast at home, Ocean beach, dinner at OB Noodle House DAY 5 Breakfast at the Breakfast Republic, a Bike ride to Balboa Park, dinner at Solare DAY 6 Trip to Open-air Fish Market, Little Italy Farmer’s Market, SD breweries road trip, Seafood grilling at home DAY 7 Brunch at Trust, Day around Little Italy, and the water front, Airport.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My business success is only possible for those who support my business. This shoutout is dedicated to all those who’ve supported Cueva Bar now De Nada Kitchen & Market in some way throughout the years. From my family, friends, neighbors, non for profits, print, and online medial outlets.