Fearless Friday: Jennifer Wisniewski
Everyone wants to be a bad ass babe and the term "girlboss" has become slightly overused, myself included, but it's rare to actually meet a female entrepreneur who can reinvent herself multiple times and truly embody both terms. Meet Jennifer.
I have admired her from afar for quite some time. Heck I even pitched her in my former job. She owns an amazing restaurant on the north side...but she's so much more than a restauranteur. True, she's recognized for her stunning super model looks but what I really appreciate about her is her super hero qualities. Single mom, restaurant owner, Director of Operations for an amazing creative agency (more on that later), writer and friend. I often wonder if she has more hours in the day than I? But no...she's just a really rad chick with many talents.
P/S Read her blog. I love her raw honesty...it's refreshing.
Tell us a little about Bread & Wine and the mission of your company. How did you join forces with your partner and create the concept? How hard was it to get started? More importantly, modeling to the restaurant biz...give us the deets!
The mission of Bread & Wine was to provide an underserved community with an elevated dining experience.
I met my business partner, Lisa Fosler Kelly on a playdate. We have two children the same age. When I went to pick Stella up, she invited me in for a drink and our discussion quickly turned to how there are no good restaurants in our neighborhood (Old Irving Park), so we decided to do something about. Now our neighborhood is getting many dining options but, five years ago, everyone thought we were crazy.
I started modeling out of high school and my boyfriend at the time ran restaurants, so in order to see him I would hostess for him. His name is Michael Nahabedian, who now owns Naha & Brindille, so anything I know about the business he taught me. I modeled and worked in restaurants my whole life and I guess in a way I still do.
1. What was the moment you knew you wanted to be an entrepreneur let alone in the restaurant industry?
I always knew I wanted to lead. I just didn’t know what form it would come in, until I met my business partner and we started talking about how the Northwest Side of Chicago didn’t have any “good” restaurants and then we decided to put our money where our mouth was. That was seven years ago.
2. What one B&W event/dish/moment are you the most proud of and why?
We hosted a wedding between an older same sex couple. It was a moving ceremony and an inspiring speech and I was just honored it was at Bread & Wine. I was proud to bare witness on how far we have come.
3. How would you describe a typical day? What's your morning to evening routine?
I get up and run for an hour, everyday and then I talk to Mary (sister), Ryan (my gay, but also I am his director of operations for SIX4 Creative) and Lisa Kelly (business partner). We solve all the problems and then I will spend a few hours at Bread & Wine, making sure it's all running fine and maybe a meeting or two with Ryan. Get home around 7 and hang out with my daughter Stella until bedtime.
4. How do you describe your personal aesthetic?
Modern, easy, utilitarian with a dash of quirkiness.
5. What individuals, tastemakers, celebrities, entrepreneurs, public figures inspire you?
Lately I’ve been following and watching all things Chelsea Handler. I just like the way she doesn’t care of what anyone thinks of her and acts accordingly. She inspires me to be braver or more authentic or both.
6. If you weren't in the restaurant industry...and could be anything else...what would it be?
Leader of the free world.
7. It's creative time...what's on your music playlist? What inspires you?
Lately - the soundtrack from Hair, Nelly, Ike & Tina Turner, ZZ Top and Madonna forever. Its a mixed bag and it changes constantly. I love music...all music. It just needs to make me feel something.
8. Favorite restaurant on a Friday night + why?
Bread & Wine - of course! I haven’t been out for dinner on a Friday night since, well….ever.
9. Wine or classic cocktail?
Vodka, soda with a lime. That’s all.
10. Favorite weekend getaway destination?
I like New Buffalo, Michigan. The beaches are so beautiful and serene and it’s only an hour drive. Good restaurants and inexpensive rentals. I love it there and have many great memories of that area.
11. Bonus question - 5 must-have apps that you need in your life to function?
Uber, Spotify, Grubhub, Picsplay and Chakra Meditation, now I sound like an asshole but it’s all true.
12. What's next for Bread & Wine and Jen?
More things Tall Orders which is my website with insights and thoughts, on what its like to be a single mom while owning a restaurant. I write a story every Sunday and my hope is that they are inspiring and connect in some way to my readers. I also share my favorite places to eat and why.
Helping Ryan Beshel build and grow his company SIX4 Creative.
Last but not least, Bread & Wine is trying to start a line of artisanal items for grocery stores. Cross your fingers!