Martini Shot

Martini Shot: Lauren Bailey, Co-Founder/CEO of Upward Projects

“You know, we have five concepts on one block, and people are like, ‘You’re crazy, you’re cannibalizing yourselves,’” Lauren said. “And we never believed that. All of the restaurants, to this day, have been busier from it.”

Shooting The Martini Shot at an entrepreneur’s own establishment made this episode special. Seated in front of Postino’s famous bruschetta, Co-Founder + CEO of Upward Projects, Lauren Bailey, shares her story at the restaurant group’s flagship location.

Upward Projects boasts five of Arizona’s favorite restaurant concepts with 13 locations. “The real estate piece is critical,” Lauren says, since each location is inspired by a historic building, including:

  • Postino: Named after the 1940’s post office building where it originated, it now has 8 locations, including Denver and Houston.
  • Joyride Taco House: Joyride began delivering joy and tacos from the Grainbelt building in downtown Gilbert’s Heritage District.
  • Federal Pizza: Housed in the restored 1950’s First Federal Bank building designed by Al Beadle, Federal Pizza serves up some of Phoenix’s best pizza.
  • The Windsor: In a renovated 1940-era building in central Phoenix, The Windsor has become a go-to for cocktails and upscale brunch.
  • Churn: Located next to Windsor in North Central Phoenix, the artisan ice cream shop makes freshly-churned ice cream in a nostalgic way that matches its building.

Between glasses of Arizona-made wine, Lauren talks about her introduction to the restaurant world, the inspiration behind the wildly popular concepts, and insights about the high’s and low’s of the entrepreneur life–and why she loves it.

Episode Highlights
@3:00 – How she got into the restaurant world: Made a fake resume to work at P.F. Chang’s and proved herself by memorizing everything on the menu

@ 4:36 – How she earned the money to get started (the hustle): Spent a summer working in Nantucket where she saved $30,000 by taking as many shifts as possible + working in a real estate office

@ 5:35 Joining forces with Craig DeMarco and going all-in to start Upward Projects: Lauren and her husband had $17 in their bank account the day that Postino Central opened. She told her husband, “You’re a lawyer, and I’m a bartender. We’re not going to starve.”

@ 6:20 – Entrepreneurial high’s and low’s: “If you do what you love, you’ll never work an hour in your life” – How it’s the biggest blessing and biggest curse

@ 7:30 – The inspiration behind the concepts: Their love of old buildings led to 5 concepts one on block.

@ 8:40 How they keep company culture in tact as they expand: Why the real estate piece is so critical for Upward Projects.

@10:25 Noah’s lightning round of questions: Does Noah prefer pencils or pens–and what does he use to write with in the shower?

For more about Upward Projects

For more about Lauren

Martini Shot: Andrew Leto

“This is the best drink you could actually drink. Think about it: you have water and vodka,” Andrew said as we sat at Goldie’s Sports Bar in North Scottsdale. “What else could there be? 100 calories a drink… perfect.”

In 2003, as a 23 year old back home from his time in the Navy, Andrew Leto witnessed the antiquities of the trucking business while working for his dad’s small freight company. As he watched deals being brokered by phone, he thought that there must be a better way, leading him to create it.

GlobalTranz is the 5th largest privately held company in Arizona today and has become the Priceline of trucking, a solution Andrew developed to meet the needs of a less manual freight management process. Following a successful exit, he has now founded EmergeTMS which provides a platform for large companies to manage all of their freight.

Watch as Andrew introduces me to his go-to 2-ingredient cocktails, inspired by his time in the Navy, and talks about the quirks of a big Italian family, plays some Weezer on the acoustic guitar and gets a little surprise visit.

Martini Shot – Kathy Sacks

If you’re in the local-Arizona startup world, then you probably know this week’s guest: founder of COLEAP and Sacks Ventures, board member of multiple startups, and a woman with a resume as impressive as her work-ethic. Kathy Sacks joins Noah in this week’s “The Martini Shot” to tell her story. Watch as the two talk family and work history, how to become a successful entrepreneur, and even share some (kind of crazy) stories over some funky cocktails at Phoenix’s Farm and Craft.

Martini Shot: Brad Jannenga

After developing programs that were making other people millionaires, Brad Jannenga decided it was time to do something for himself. Watch as Brad explains the twists and turns of his ride in the business world and how a project that started while trying to impress a girl (aw) turned into a program that launched to the public market in 2008. Plus, great drinks, the Gumball 3000 race, and so much more.

Martini Shot: Coming Soon

The Martini Shot, named after the film industry’s post-wrap drink of the same name, is a video series featuring conversations with local entrepreneurs and business owners and their insights in the business world. Over craft beers and cocktails (of course).