Seth Rubin had just begun his foray into the food service industry when he started Rise & Shine Biscuit Kitchen and Cafe
in January of 2010. Though he lacked experience, he had the personal motivation and support from friends in the business driving him forward. Rubin began his own business, a biscuit and coffee shop in a neighborhood with a need for a cozy java joint. Rubin got to see what the restaurant business was all about, and after just one year, he was ready for more. In February of 2011, Rubin opened his second location—Rise & Shine Highlands—and he has his sights set on even greater success in the future.
The newest Rise & Shine is set in the trendy neighborhood of the Denver Highlands, where dining at interesting, original restaurants has become a staple of social living. As with the original Rise & Shine, Rubin’s second location grew from a connection with Basil Doc’s Pizza
, a neighborhood pizza operation with four locations throughout the city.
This unique partnership provided the foundation for Rise & Shine in more ways than one. The most important aspect is that each restaurant actually operates out of the same space. Both operations share the kitchen, the front of the house, and even some of the same employees. Since Basil Doc’s opens for business in the late afternoon, the space is open for Rise & Shine to operate during the morning hours. This space-sharing aspect has worked so well that it made partnering for a second opening a logical choice.
“I think as soon as I got comfortable with the first location, I knew that things were going to work out [in the Highlands],” Rubin said. “Having a partnership with an existing restaurant that had four locations, the thought was always there of potentially partnering up again and expanding. This neighborhood up in the Highlands was the next logical choice.”
The Highlands Basil Doc’s needed a few adjustments before Rise & Shine could move in. Outfitting a commercial kitchen with new equipment can be costly, so Rubin put together a budget and began doing some research. “I set about checking into what the costs were, what the big items were, and seeing if [my budget] was realistic.”
When Rubin could not make use of Basil Doc’s existing commercial kitchen equipment, he looked online and at local auction houses for used equipment. His goal? Saving money. He bought a convection oven and an undercounter refrigerator at auction rather than purchasing them new. “The oven that I have now, which I purchased used, would have cost 10 times what I paid,” he said. Although he saved some cash up front, Rubin realized that he took a risk. “Commercial equipment is expensive for very good reasons. There’s a lot to it, there’s a lot that can go wrong with it, " he said. "With a number of commercial appliances, if you have problems, those problems can be close to the cost of new equipment to fix.” Thankfully, Rubin has had only good luck so far. He recommends doing as much research as possible before paying for used equipment. “There may come a time when I can afford to buy new equipment, which will be awesome,” he said.
“I love being in the shop. I love hanging out with all the people I get to hang out with, be it customers, employees, vendors or suppliers.”
All of this research has led to a new hobby: fixing up old kitchen equipment. He often finds used coffee equipment online, and cannot help but place a bid. If he purchases, he’ll clean it, fix it up, and sell it to a new buyer if he cannot use it himself. “I have an espresso machine sitting at home right now,” he confessed.
Once Rubin had dealt with the trials and errors of running a business for the first time, he felt prepared to open a second location. “The trial part was figuring out what the demands were on the kitchen, and what the demands were on the front of the house,” he said. He had to figure out how many people he needed to make Rise & Shine function, and how to make it function without him working every shift. Again, sharing space with Basil Doc’s came in handy. “Staffing-wise, part of the partnership with Basil Doc’s that was very beneficial was having access to their employees who knew the kitchen already and were looking for additional hours,” he said. “Most of them had much more significant restaurant experience than I did at the time.”
Part of his employee training involves showing employees how to make a perfect biscuit, as well as what imperfections to look out for. Throughout Rubin’s time making biscuits for Rise & Shine, the recipe as well as the process of making biscuits has remained the same. The basic ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, butter and buttermilk) are always mixed by hand. However, Rubin says that there is a lot of room for error with only five ingredients.
The only time the biscuits do vary is for the “biscuit of the day” promotion. This has been a successful endeavor for Rise & Shine, spawning such creations as the Dr. Pepper biscuit and the popular Friday beer biscuits, thanks to a partnership with Denver’s Great Divide Brewing Company
. “We’ve got a lot of creative minds working with us and for us,” Rubin said.
After over a year of business, Rubin has seen with the ups and downs of restaurant ownership and feels confident he is in the right place. He recalls that, in the past, he has always worked for others as a means to an end. Now, he loves running his own business, even though he says he has never worked so many hours. “I love being in the shop. I love hanging out with all the people I get to hang out with, be it customers, employees, vendors or suppliers. But, it’s good to maintain the balance.”
Find Seth Rubin and his biscuits at Rise & Shine Highlands, or visit the original Rise & Shine Biscuit Kitchen and Café in the Crestmoor neighborhood.