We had the good fortune of connecting with Taylor Shaffer and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Taylor, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
Being part of both the design and hospitality industry, there is so much that goes down behind the scenes that most people don’t know about. 2020 definitely peeled back the curtains and revealed some of the unknown but also added a lot more layers. The design and hospitality industry always have to be ready for a pivot. This past year these industries both have had to completely rethink and replan everything going forward to adapt to the unexpected.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
OpenGym is a creative collective focused on building sustainable ecosystems of change within communities through the power of hospitality. The foundation of this collective is all of our individual dreams and goals, for the past few years we have all taken part in facilitating those dreams into realities, together. It has not been an easy journey by any means, but that is the part we truly love most about it- the challenges and learning how to grow from and overcome them. OpenGym is unlike other groups because we view hospitality as more than a collection of services. We view hospitality as a lifestyle that uses food, space and service as the conduit for breaking down walls and creating dialogue amongst the community. If there is anything I would want the world to take away from our brand and story, it would be to take a step back and really think about the work you are doing and why you are doing it. Our jobs are more than a way to make money, everything we do has a major impact and you can decide what that impact is.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Trying to make a list of my favorite spots in San Diego is almost impossible to narrow down but I’ll do my best. For a no fuss, straight to the good stuff cocktail menu it has to be J&Tony’s, I usually order a Negroni (or 2). If I’m in the mood for a picnic at the park (Presidio Park)- it’s a must to stop at Clos Wine Shop for a nice bottle of orange wine, then I would head to The Wise Ox to pick up a sandwich, I love the ham & cheese or the Philly cheesesteak (or both). When I’m in the mood for tacos and tequila, Cantina Mayahuel is a must. For a late night meal (pre-Covid but hopefully sometime in the future), Yakitori Yokohama is always my number one option. To conclude this list, I have to give a shout-out to the best burgers in town at Hayes Burgers.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the four people I started this amazing journey with a few years back. My fellow members of OpenGym- Phillip Esteban, Jam Zumel, LeeJ Razalan and Erwin Hines. Back in 2017, I had just gotten my degree and finished working with a local design and architecture firm. I had no real idea of what my next move would be until I fate led me to this group. Since the start, the five of us have taken on every and any role necessary to achieve our united goals. These people have inspired me daily and are a prime example of hard work, dedication and dreaming big all while staying empathetic and compassionate, giving back to others every chance they get. It is truly an honor I get to be a part of such a barrier breaking team.

Website: OpenGymsd.com
Instagram: Taylorshaffer
Other: Instagram: @opengymsd

Image Credits
Nathan Concepcion

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