Growing Fast-Food Chain Reflects on Early Menu Mistake

Small Business Spotlight: b.good

Who: Jon Olinto

What: Fast-food with fresh ingredients, made by hand

When: 2004

Where: Boston, Massachusetts

How: Co-founders Jon Olinto and Anthony Ackil had been talking about opening a business for years, before they finally worked up the courage to take the plunge in their mid-20s.  With management consulting experience, Olinto says the pair wrote a business plan, did research and raised some money to make their entrepreneurial dream a reality.

“The whole concept is based on the idea of making real food. It’s fast food made by people, not factories, and we either make it ourselves or know the people who make it,” says Olinto.

The friends used savings to pay for a quarter of the startup costs, and found investors to cover the rest. Today, b.good has expanded to 10 locations in Massachusetts.

Biggest challenge: “At the beginning, the biggest challenge was the steep learning curve, because we didn’t have restaurant experience,” says Olinto. “We had too big of a menu at first, and we thought we were mitigating risk by having something for everyone.”

One moment in time: Olinto says he is proudest of the fact that the duo hasn’t had to compromise their original idea, even while expanding.

Best business advice: “The restaurant business is crazy, but don’t let fear dictate what you’re going to do. If it doesn’t work out, life doesn’t end!” says Olinto.

Most influential book: In terms of his attitude toward food, Olinto says he’s been inspired by Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”