Today we’d like to introduce you to Juan Ruiz.
Juan, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born in Oxnard California in 1989; I’m a first generation American, son of immigrant parents from an impoverished town in Mexico. My parents were able to solidify their legal status in the country because of a legislation which was passed by the Reagan administration when I was a child and we moved to Texas in the early nineties in search for better opportunities. Although California was worlds ahead of my parents’ hometown as far as what it had to offer in prosperity, the living environment was very cruel on a young family of 5. It was in the north Dallas area that we found refuge from the high costs of California living and to this day it is what I call home. I started working in restaurants when I was 16 years old, my first job was in a fast food restaurant as a cashier. My father owns and operates a Landscaping business, when I was thirteen years old I’d go work with my dad on the weekends and whenever I was out of school for holidays. Usually on Saturdays we would have lunch at a Whataburger that was close to where we had a lot of the jobs, because I knew that I couldn’t work with my father during the week when I was in school, once I was old enough to be hired I applied for work at that Whataburger. That was my first experience with restaurants, after a year and a half of fast food I moved to work at a small family owned Mexican restaurant and that’s where I got my first experience in the service industry. I started college in August of 2007 shortly after graduating high school and I moved to San Antonio, Texas in 2010 to pursue a degree in International Business Management. Throughout my time in college I worked as a server and bartender in several restaurants, some of which were acknowledged to be best in its class and very unique in both concept and cuisine, it was because of these restaurants that I was able to have a comfortable living while attending college. Although I enjoyed the industry because of the high energy and the constant cash flow it was difficult on me because of the late hours at times and I feel that my academics suffered a bit because of it. However, in December of 2011 I graduated from UTSA with a BA in International Management. Throughout my time in college I always worked on the concept of “Foxiis” it became sort of like a hobby of mine and when I was taking notes in my different business classes I would usually have a separate notepad in which I would write about how the lesson pertained to Foxiis and the restaurant industry and how I could apply it. When I moved back to Dallas I worked for a few months at a capital management company as a business analyst. The job paid well but it wasn’t something that I particularly enjoyed and it wasn’t anything that took any creativity or imagination, to me it was kind of boring. In contrast with the restaurant industry, which will never have you see the same thing two days in a row, it wasn’t fun.
While I was working there I continued to work on my plan to open my restaurant and in late 2012 I was offered an opportunity to make it happen. It was my best friend’s father, who signed off on the contract for me to build the restaurant; he is also a restaurateur and was instrumental in me being given the opportunity to build our concept. My father helped me with funding the project, my younger brother was with us throughout the build-out and opening and in June of 2013 we opened Foxiis Restaurant and Grill in Murphy, TX. My family as a whole has been very supportive even through difficult times with the restaurant and I feel like I garner strength from them. Our location in Murphy has now been operating for 4 years and just began its 5th year of business, and on the eve of our 4th anniversary in June of 2017 I signed a contract to open our second location in the city of McKinney, Texas. Construction is scheduled to begin soon and we are hoping to be open by the holiday season.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No definitely not, but I don’t believe anything worth having comes easy so I wasn’t surprised that there were challenges and having been in the industry for a few years I knew it was going to be a lot of work. I turned twenty-four about three weeks after opening Foxiis, I had about 20 employees when we opened and although I have a bachelor’s degree in business management I had never actually been in charge of a team, so just getting used to being the boss and being that person who everyone comes to when they need an answer was a huge adjustment for me. Early on I think being so young and knowing that although I had plenty of restaurant knowledge I still was very inexperienced was a big struggle for me. When you open up a business to the public you make yourself very open to criticism and you hear people say thing that you would much rather not have heard, sometimes they’re hurtful, and sure some are nice but at first I struggled a lot with feedback because I’m a perfectionist, I mean I attempted to build a concept on the basis of quality and service excellence and there is very little room for mistake if you’re going to achieve accolades in either of those, so it was difficult for me to not be concerned with everything that was brought up to me about whether we were doing something wrong or how we could improve. Now you have to understand that I worked open to close every day for many months when we opened and sometimes I still do. That is a lot of time in which you will have hundreds of people tell you how you should run your business, it is very hard to listen to 50 voices at one time and it is so disturbing that it begins to drown out your own voice, in essence you can no longer hear yourself and you begin to question your abilities, your methods and you lose confidence in yourself. I think that was the most difficult thing for me was to stop listening to what everybody said. I actually would talk to myself as stupid as that sounds, I sat there and said Juan nobody knows this business like you, nobody spends as many hours here as you do and nobody knows exactly the direction in which you want to take Foxiis except you so don’t worry about everything everyone says and do what you think is the best thing for the prosperity of your business. I think when I started listening to myself our business started growing and with it so did my confidence, it became easier for me to talk to my employees and even to deal with criticism or suggestions. To this day I still have things that I struggle with as a business owner, as an employer and just as a person but I try and fix things as early as I can identify them so they don’t turn into something big. Controlling my stress level is something that I work on, on a daily basis because it is something that affects our lifestyle and it impairs your ability to think, so to me it is very important to control it. I try and take vacations whenever I can even just for 3 or 4 days to recharge my mind and body and when I can’t get away I just kind of turn my mind off for a day to let it rest, during that day I don’t do anything mental, I don’t answer business calls or read emails and I do a lot of cleaning.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Foxiis Restaurant and Grill – what should we know?
I own and operate “Foxiis Restaurant and Grill” it is a full-service restaurant which also has a full bar. It’s a nontraditional American cuisine although there are some flavors we take from traditional southern cooking, Tex- mex, and Asian kitchens. We have a scratch kitchen which means our entire menu is made from scratch and in house. We specialize in excellent customer service and quality in both our kitchen and our bar’s hand crafted cocktails. What sets us apart from the other restaurants is a unique combination of features in how we do business. To begin our restaurant looks like a sports bar, there are huge televisions in every corner but you will not find any sport bar that is making fresh grilled satay skewers in chili ponzu sauce with a spicy peanut dipping sauce, well we do that here. If you want to refer to us as a sports bar well, we offer you a food quality unbeknownst to sports bars, so I don’t believe I could agree. If because we have a full bar you want to refer to us a bar I’d like to tell you that we make our margarita mix fresh from scratch here, we have a martini that muddles jalapeno, cucumber and mint together and if your heart so desires you could top your dinner with a key lime pie martini that isn’t even on the menu because we do special things for people here, oh and yes we still do make old fashions, the old fashioned way so If you want to call us a bar, it’s not the type that you just go get drunk at. Finally, if its service that you seek, you shouldn’t have to do fine dining to get it, just come on in, after all this is Texas and we make a vision out of southern hospitality. We have a unique combination of energy, fun, service, and quality. I cannot categorize it so I just call it “Foxiis”. I’d have to say what I’m most proud of as a company is to have witnessed the development of our staff.
sJust like I learned along the way they all learned with me and although not many are left from the original Foxiis we do have a few standouts, among them our head chef, who is also 28. Most of the people which we hired had none or very little experience so I think having created a successful business in such a difficult industry with such a young staff speaks volumes about the work that we have done here to develop and teach and I would hope that we serve as an example to other companies that our youth only needs the opportunity to gain experience to be able to grow from it and to contribute because of it.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
If I am going to talk about success I’d have to talk about success in business and success in life because I think they have different criteria. In business, my goal is to profit, that is what I want to achieve. To be successful I have to develop a product or a service that gives me an advantage over my competitors in my industry and that advantage has to be sustainable over time. It is very important for a business to be independent from its owner or creator, a business works for you and has its own identity if all you have done is built a job, you are not yet successful. In business, you measure success by growth.
How much have our sales increased? How many of the customers that are coming through your door are new customers? How many more new customers did we get this month vs last month? How much better is our income to expense ratio for this year vs last year? All these markers can give you an indication of how much success you are having as a business and these markers also if used accordingly can provide useful information that can help you to make your business more efficient and less vulnerable.
If we understand what a business really is, you have achieved success in business when your company has reached the point of business independence as a profitable enterprise.
Success in life is completely different; you hear people say all the time, I just want to be happy, so we’ll call happiness one of those measures of success in life.
Although that explanation might be simple enough what makes people happy isn’t so simple. I’ve employed around 50 people during the 4 years of business that we have been in operation, 50 people that I have worked with directly on a day to day basis and my goal for those individuals while they are employed with our company is to help them achieve that measure of success. It is easy to see that there is actually a criterion of common beliefs which make people more or less happy, those are to belong, to matter, to be independent, and to feel supported, these also apply to me. I attempt to belong in an industry that doesn’t seem to favor someone my age, because of it I’m constantly at a disadvantage and I fight every day to even the playing field. I also want to matter as a person, I want to matter to my employees, I hope to do that by sharing my knowledge with them in both life and work, I hope to be a support system for them so that they have a heightened sense of security and I hope to be a positive example for them which serves as a motivation for them to follow their dreams. For my customers, those are the people I serve, I hope that the years I’ve spent building and creating Foxiis matters to them. I hope that I’ve helped create memories and that they see a stress reliever like the one I seek in our establishment on a day to day basis and a place not far from home. I want to matter to my friends and family because in the end I hope to be successful so I can spend more time with them and to enjoy together the rewards of hard work. I don’t want to depend on anyone because I can’t help others like that; I want to be independent because I like to believe in myself and I believe that we all need to be proud of who we are. Now that brings me to the support system, I have a team at work that serves as my support system in business, and I have my family which is my support system in life. At work, I trust in the expertise and the abilities of others and they trust mine, I count on my team because I know that I cannot build a business all on my own and I’m thankful for them because they help me feel secure. In life, my family is a constant reminder of what I work for, their support is encouraging, their forgiveness is refreshing and their acceptance is nurturing. I need this support system because we all need re assurance that we are doing what is right and we all need someone who we can trust to tell us when we are doing something that is not. This criterion is what I use to measure success in life and if I had to tie this with success in business I’d say; I want to use my success in business as a means to help others achieve success in life and in turn I’ll be that much closer to personal success.
- Address: 213 E. FM 544, suite 311, Murphy, TX, 75098
- Website: Foxiis.com
- Phone: 972-516-4144
- Email: Foxiissportsgrill@yahoo.com