Owner: Eva Restaurant
7458 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Yelp: 3.5 stars
Interview Date: Monday, July 26, 2010
Mark Gold, owner of Eva Restaurant, grew up in Los Angeles and got his first restaurant job at 16 – working as a busboy at Geoffrey’s in Malibu. He also started early as a restaurant entrepreneur, cooking bagel burgers for everyone on the block.
From Geoffrey’s he began a career in restaurants. He worked at Cutters in Santa Monica, where he was hired to make pasta. Next he interviewed at Trump’s, but they said they wanted someone with more experience. A few weeks later Trump’s called him back – another employee had just quit and they needed Marc to start making pastries immediately.
“We were doing tea service – I was supposed to cut the crusts off the bread, but I couldn’t even do that straight!” says Marc. After mastering the skills he needed for Trump’s Marc worked at a few other restaurants before deciding that he should go to school. “I figured that I should go to school if I wanted to make a career out of cooking,” he says.
Mark attended the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, and then returned to Los Angeles as a Chef in 1989. He worked at Patina for 2 years, and then moved up to the Bay Area, then back to Vermont, where he married and opened a small restaurant with his wife and another couple. “I was young and cocky,” admits Mark. “I was still working to find my style. I was pretty tough to work with, and the situation got complicated, so one day I took the dog and moved back to LA.”
Mark took a job as sous chef at Loews Santa Monica, where he learned what it was like to work for a hotel. “There are unions and a lot of rules, and not a lot of passion,” he says. “It was really difficult when they brought me on as manager over guys who had been there for years. I was trying to be cutting edge within the hotel culture, which was hard.”
He took jobs at the Water Grill and iCugini, promising on his resume that he had “phenomenal cooking skills,” which surprised his prospective employers. “They said ‘show us!’ and I always could – it was true!”
Mark was offered a role in opening a new restaurant at the Century Plaza Hotel. “It was an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I took it.” He hadn’t forgotten his previous experience with hotels, though, so he clarified that this experience would be better. Of course, though, it was still a union hotel and Mark left soon after the restaurant opened.
His next challenge awaited: Chef Joachim Splichal asked him to take Café Pinot to the next level. He brought Café Pinot’s reputation from a theatre restaurant to a destination restaurant, and it became the highest-profit restaurant in the Patina Group. “It was a huge turnaround,” says Mark. After a year off, he took another challenge from Joachim and worked at Café Rouge in Orange County. After six months, he left to pursue consulting and begin working on his own vision.
In September 2009 he opened Eva Restaurant, set in a bungalow on Beverly Blvd. “It’s a small, intimate space with a great location,” says Mark. Of course, there are usually challenges involved in opening a restaurant, and this location has proven challenging in the areas of plumbing, permits and parking. The most important thing for Marc is to keep his creativity flowing so that he can run a tight ship and deal with the challenges of being a restaurant entrepreneur. To handle slow mid-week nights, he developed “Beer and Bird” night – serving fried chicken and keg beers. Revenues have increased dramatically on those nights as a result. He also offers a fixed 5-course dinner party that includes wine on Sundays.
The best part of being a restaurant entrepreneur, says Mark, is the freedom. “It’s not that I have lots of free time, but I can make the decisions about when to open, when to close, what to serve, and how to serve it,” he says. He also values his flexibility and the opportunity to be creative.