Jim chose this business to recreate who he is. He says he was an engineering contractor for 30 years and when the economy crashed he decided to recreate what he was and make something different out of himself.
When I asked Jim what makes the restaurant successful, he said he believes his success comes from connecting with the community and bringing a local product to the customer. The natural products, herb seasoning, and low sodium bring out the flavor and create communication. Everybody likes to talk about food. Jim explains that these days everyone likes to take pictures of food so he likes to make a good picture plate as well as good food. He says a great staff and Chef José, who is an answer to prayer, are an important part of his success.
For Jim, the best part of his job is meeting people; some people even say he is like a people magnet. I would have to agree. Coming from the rough and tough engineering environment, he says the restaurant business has really opened up his friendly side. He has a chance to start a conversation when he asks, “How do you like your food?”
Jim says he has always liked to cook and most of the recipes here are a reflection of what he did when he was a little kid. He was raised by his grandmother, who was a great cook, and mentor to him. Jim says, “We made jellies, relishes, sat on the porch snapping beans, and went out in the wheat fields harvesting wheat.” He says it was a great life for a little boy growing up.
Chicken and Dumpling soup is Jim’s favorite dish at his restaurant. It is a recipe from his great grandmother. He explains that his recipe comes from the 1880’s when his great grandmother came to Oklahoma in the land rush from Tennessee. Jim recalls that it reminds him of his grandma and that’s why we have it here everyday.
I asked what experience or education helped him in creating this business. Jim said, “I challenge myself at all times.” He went on to explain, “When you think you don’t have anything else to contribute you dig down and find something you can do.” He saw a possibility and put the elements together. He said, “I’m a developer and contractor so putting plans together and following a method is second nature to me. Like a blueprint.”
Jim and his wife, Lisa, designed Bravos with a farm and musical décor. As I notice the seat I am sitting on, Jim explains the seat is his design like red alligator boots, and the back is his wife’s design. She has been a ballerina all of her life and he says he’s probably been to more ballets than any cowboy he knows. They bring together fresh farm produce and musical posters and songs. It’s a fun place to share a delicious meal.
Jim says they have plans to open more restaurants. His plans for the future include a restaurant in Galt. He wants each restaurant to fit the community and use local products. In Elk Grove everyone’s going somewhere. The theater theme fits the fast-faced diverse culture.