Phil Suarez on Turning a Gut Feeling into a Restaurant

The longtime business partner of Jean-Georges Vongerichten considers how much his good instinct has shaped his success
Phil Suarez: How to Turn a Gut Feeling to a Successful Restaurant
Photography by Bjorn Iooss for WSJ. Magazine

Phil Suarez and Jean-Georges Vongerichten are responsible for a restaurant empire that spans the globe.

The Wall Street Journal recently interviewed Phil Suarez, longtime business partner of Jean-Georges Vongerichten, about the attitude that’s brought the team so much success. Together, the two have opened some of the most important restaurants in New York City and around the world (30 so far) including Jean Georges, ABC Kitchen, Spice Market, The Pump Room, and Mercato, among others.

"It's the way I take shots," Suarez said of his success, "push it all back on the table and say, 'Roll 'em.' "

He eventually met a young Jean-Georges Vongerichten, then the chef at the Drake Hotel, who was “working magic.”

“One day, out of the blue, he called and says, 'Phil, would you be—' Before he finished the sentence, I was at his door,” says Suarez. “He wanted to open his own place. I wrote a check for $250,000. Boom-boom-boom-boom-boom. We opened JoJo. The food was utterly new."

Since then, the team has established a restaurant empire on which “the sun never sets.”

How does he know if a particular location is right for the next restaurant? “Gut feeling. Smells right. Then we talk.” 

Read the full interview over at The Wall Street Journal.

For the latest food and drink updates, visit our Food News page.

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.   

Related Links
Chef Bios: Jean-Georges VongerichtenJean-Georges Vongerichten Plans ABC Carpet & Home Food Market and More NewsJean-Georges Vongerichten to Open ABC CocinaJean-Georges Vongerichten’s Fried Sushi Cakes and More RecipesChefs at Home: Marja and Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Minimalist Kitchen