Meili Myles – Restaurant Owner and Graduate
Meili Myles is the owner of BGR – a gourmet burger restaurant in the heart of Sugarhouse. She also graduated from the KeyBank Business Accelerator Academy. We sat down with her to hear what she had to say about being a business owner and her experience in the academy.
*This interview has been edited for brevity
What inspired you to purchase BGR and bring a location to Sugarhouse?
I came from a family catering background. My mom owned a catering business and I used to get up at 4 am in the morning – especially when she had a big catering order. I’ve always enjoyed working with food and with people and I think it’s in the family that my mom instilled to us that having your own business is very fulfilling. When I tasted the BGR patty for the first time I knew it was an American staple, so it felt like a no-brainer. The Sugarhouse neighborhood is changing rapidly and is very welcoming and friendly, so we knew we wanted to be here because we loved the community.
Which part of owning a business is the most fulfilling to you?
The most fulfilling of owning a business is the learning process. You’re constantly learning and constantly reevaluating decisions you make. There’s no limit in learning – it’s very week and every day. That’s really fulfilling for me because I never stop learning.
How has the South Valley Chamber’s KeyBank Business Accelerator Academy helped you think differently?
The Business Accelerator Academy helps me a lot. From the beginning it has opened my eyes that I need to pay attention more to the financial statements, reevaluate my decisions and look at the marketing decisions we have made. I think the classroom interactions are beneficial as well. The instructor, Ralph Little, makes sure that everyone chimes in and asks questions. The CEO mentoring group we have every other week are also helpful because we’re in a group with different business backgrounds. In my group, there’s a very established business, there’s a new business, and there’s someone in the middle. It gives you a lot of ideas and out of the box ideas.
Since going through the academy what have you implemented in your business you didn’t have before?
Since going through the program, I have gained a lot of marketing ideas. I’ve learned that the marketing plan or the marketing strategy must focus on your target market. You can’t be everything for everyone. We started implementing a few things – like following up with customers that never come back to us to gain feedback. It has opened our eyes and asking them gives us a lot of ideas.
If you could describe your journey as a business owner what would it be and why?
Humbling. You make mistakes and you learn, and then you still make mistakes. People will tell you when you make mistakes and that’s really humbling. And your customers and employees will let you know what you need to do better. It’s worth it, but it’s humbling.
Do you have any advice for future business owners?
Do your homework and take your time. Do not rush. It is not worth it to rush the business license, negotiations, negotiating with your landlord, negotiating with vendors and suppliers. Get involved with the community because they will give you input and feedback – listen to them.
Advice for someone looking into the academy?
I would encourage them to join in. It’s a constant learning process and the feedback from your colleagues in the classroom is invaluable. Ralph Little, our instructor, said it perfectly – “It’s lonely at the top.” You feel like you’re fighting alone, but this program encourages discussion and interaction in the classroom that will help you.
What is your go-to menu item?
My personal favorite is the Wallington Burger. It’s black truffle topping that we make from scratch in house. It tastes unique and is very rich so it’s what I always recommend.
We are now recruiting for the January 2020 cohort. The program is 13 weeks and is held every other Tuesday from 9 am to 12 pm. To learn more click here.