HIGHLIGHTING Michael Youssef & Sam Kaiser
DALLAS, Texas - According to Michael Youssef and Sam Kaiser, "when life gives you lemons, toss ‘em and make a cheesesteak!" - and that's exactly what they did. After Michael and Sam lost their jobs last year due to the pandemic, they decided to put their dream in motion and become their own boss. After extensive market research and determining that Dallas could use a unique cheesesteak restaurant, they opened Furlough Brothers, a shop that pays homage to the original cheesesteak sandwich and provides an array of offerings with an interesting culinary twist.
We had the chance to interview Michael and Sam to understand more about their background, their new restaurant concept, and to learn about the "S" sauce their customers rave about. Here's what they said.
H&F: Please describe your career(s) prior to this venture.
Michael: Chef for 20 years, Senior Banquet Chef at Gaylord National, and most recently Executive Banquet Chef at Hilton Anatole.
Sam Kaiser: Hotel Management for 10 years, most recently Senior Food and Beverage Manager at Hilton Anatole.
H&F: What were the initial phases of furlough like for you?
Furlough Brothers: We could not believe that it was happening, our business was always considered one of the safest to be in until Covid. We did not think it would last so long, but as time went by we understood it was time to grow on our own.
H&F: Tell us about how you have redefined yourself. Describe your project, business, brand and/or platform.
Furlough Brothers: We took all of our accumulated knowledge of hotel, restaurant, and food and beverage experience, and decided to become our own leaders. We jot down ideas on concepts, and studied the market to find out that Dallas needed a well-made cheesesteak, and we put our efforts into creating the best Dallas cheesesteak.
H&F: What role do each of you have with the business?
Michael: The Chef behind the operation, menu, and recipe creation.
Sam: Accounting, business development.
H&F: What’s it like having your own kitchen?
Furlough Brothers: The greatest thing ever. It is very rewarding to be able to create and sell your own product, and hear feedback from happy customers. It gives us a whole new view on kitchen operation,
equipment, food cost.
"It is very rewarding to be able to create and sell your own product, and hear feedback from happy customers." -Furlough Brothers
H&F: What business hurdles have you had to overcome that you did not anticipate in the beginning?
Furlough Brothers: Having to buy appliances, having an opening date that was more than six weeks later than anticipated, having to buy domains and building website, the process of owning the intellectual property and the trademark.
No doubt opening a new restaurant is not easy, but for this duo, the end results make it all worth it. We asked Michael and Sam what is the most popular item on the menu and to describe it for us. They shared the Furlough OG cheesesteak is flying off the shelves. It's made with all the traditional ingredients plus one non-traditional element: freshly sliced beef, sauteed peppers and onions, served with their house-made cheese sauce, and what they refer to as “S" sauce. One would assume "S" stands for secret, but one reviewer on Yelp had their own take. "The "S" stands for 'Sell your worldly possessions and buy stock in Furlough Brothers,' we are very proud of that," the Furlough Brothers shared.
H&F: How can someone enjoy your amazing food?
Furlough Brothers: By ordering from our website (preferred way as it is a lower restaurant commission fee than the usual apps) but we are also available on all of your favorite delivery apps such as ubereats, grubhub, doordash, postmates.
H&F: What are your future plans to grow the business?
Furlough Brothers: We would love to expand the brand into multiple locations throughout Texas to keep serving Texas amazing cheesesteaks!
H&F: What encouraging advice would you offer someone unsure about starting their own venture?
Furlough Brothers: Don't live your life wondering “what if," do your homework, study the business you are about to enter, check out the competition, take notes, and know the risks. I have always believed that you should not invest what you can not lose.
H&F: Anything else you want to share?
Furlough Brothers: Thank you for taking the time to help small businesses, and furloughed members who stood in the face of this crisis and are doing their best to fight!
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