Over the past seven years, 37-year old Josh Zad has built a coffee and tea empire with a dozen locations and 180 employees spanning from LA to Japan. He’s also the brilliant creator/owner of popular trademark “But first, coffee.”
Another cool accolade? He was my former landlord. Yes, it’s true: Josh and I used to live in the same 10-unit apartment complex in our 20’s!
Do not miss this episode where I powwow with my old pal and dish how Josh went from landlord to budding commercial realtor to culinary genius cashing in on both good bites and good vibes.
Crazy story, but you were my landlord in Dallas years ago. How did you end up in Dallas: I’m LA born and raised, went to Yale for a few years… came back to LA. I ended up going to business school which led to me working with my family. I became disillusioned working so closely with family and was ready for a change. A friend of mine lived in Dallas and had always talked it up. So I went and visited, enjoyed the slower pace of the city and made the crazy decision to move there on a whim.
Walk us through how you went from managing and owning a property in Dallas to opening up Alfred. I love Dallas and it changed me a lot – especially creatively – but I had to move back home. I always knew I’d end up back in LA. So in 2010 I moved back and had the family biz job waiting for me. I worked there for a couple of years and something was really tugging at me. I wanted to make my own mark and I had a design itch – I wanted to put that together and see what that would look like in real life. I hatched the idea to open a space where people could come and have community and a coffee shop was the perfect opportunity.
What are your hardships and challenges? Always being asked by people what are the next steps for the business. I’m not a future person, I’m a today and a tomorrow person.
Why do you think you’re successful doing what you are doing? I break it down by the 5 “C’s” of Alfred: Coffee, community, charity, culture, and cool vibes.
General best business advice? Take the leap – you are never going to have all the questions answered. Quality of product is paramount. It’s great to have a cool aesthetic, a cool backstory… but does the product work (or in my case, taste good)? You gotta have a good product to keep people coming back. And at the end of the day – trust your instincts. Trust your gut.
Coffee or tea: Drip coffee or cold brew.
Dream travel destination: Australia
Hall pass: Ha – come back to me on that one…
Last meal on earth: Chicken parmesan
Dream mentorship session: Howard Schultz
Don’t miss Josh’s podcast. It’s so good! Check it out along with other Fridays with Flea Style episodes on iTunes here. Want to nominate somebody to be a guest on our show or have a question for Brittany to answer? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!