We had the good fortune of connecting with Robert Fleet and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Robert, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I grew up here in San Diego as a 3rd generation San Diego native. After attending USC in Los Angeles, I couldn’t wait to get back to San Diego to start my mortgage banking and real estate development careers. I honestly can’t imagine ever leaving San Diego for more than a few months a year. My great grandfather brought his aircraft manufacturing business (Consolidated Aircraft) here from Buffalo, New York back in the 20’s. Reuben H. Fleet was the epitome of a entrepreneur, as was my Grandpa and Dad. All 3 of these men never worked for anyone except their own companies. To say their experiences informed my own entrepreneurial spirit would be an understatement. After 24 years working for two banks, and at the age of 44, I realized it was time for me to go out on my own, completely. I always felt compelled to explore my own entrepreneurial passions. I had always been an investor and had designed and built several homes in Del Mar, so I felt like I had a knack for what makes good businesses successful. Good team building, hard work, passion and some dumb luck were all paramount in the businesses I have built.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
6 months after I “retired” from the bank, I had an opportunity to buy a well established but very out of date pizza shop in Del Mar. I had never done a restaurant deal and was excited about the new challenge. The business needed a drastic reimagining and I set out to make it the best pizza shop in north county San Diego. It had an amazing location and very strong core products but was in a terrible state of disarray and had been poorly managed for years. After a major remodel we changed the menu to make the business much more efficient. It wasn’t easy but was extremely rewarding to see how the Del Mar community embraced it. We have tripled sales in 12 years and our food is amazing, but I most proud of the outstanding team we have built. We have several employees that have been there for more that 15 years, including our head chef, Gimmy Garcia, who has been with Del Mar Pizza for 29 years! Our motto is “Tasty & Friendly”. and get more excited about the compliments I receive about my staff, than how epic the food and location are.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The first thing I would do is feed them. If I picked them up at the airport I would swing into El Indio on India street for their amazing chicken rolled tacos. If they were here for a week we’d definitely eat at Del Mar Pizza a few times, Urban Plates which is an incredible fast casual organic concept, and no trip to San Diego would be complete with some Poke. Poke Chop in Encinitas has the freshest poke in town and is entirely owned by a small family of brothers and brother’s in law. Great food and super friendly service. Next up would be a trip out to Borrego and a stay at La casa Del Zorro. I love to go four-wheeling in Borrego and Ocotillo wells, and the sunset at Fonts Point is truly breathtaking.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have been very blessed to have a few amazing mentors. When I was in the mortgage industry, a gentleman named dan Hanson was someone who showed my the right ways of doing things and his success and support were very instrumental in my own career. The money I made while under his tutelage is what enabled me to eventually get out on my own and pursue my entrprenurial endeavors. I also have had several business and financial mentors along the way that were crucial in teaching me how to run a small and medium size business. From my pizza shop to a trailer park, I have been truly blessed to be able to go to my mentor, Mark Wheeler, for an endless well of knowledge. Mark owns Encinitas Ford and is definitely the smartest and more successful business owner I know. His attention to granular details in his operation have transferred to my own skill set and I owe him much of my success in running these efficient and profitable businesses.