CASE STUDY: Restaurant Owner Opens 5 Restaurant Locations in Less Than 3 Years

Today’s video shares the story of how my clients, Yavonne and Wade Sarber, moved from stress, struggle, overwhelm to opening their 5th restaurant this year using my SCALE strategies. And they have plans to open 3 more locations in early 2021! This can be your story, too. Watch to learn how!


Have you ever dreamed of owning multiple restaurants. 

But not just restaurants, a restaurant business that operates with motivated, powerful, ambitious employees.  

A restaurant business that operates with systems, processes and procedures.  

A business that allows you to work on it, instead of in it.  

The kind of business that creates freedom for you and opportunity for those that join you on the journey.

That is exactly what Yavonne and Wade wanted and that is exactly what they have built with Agave & Rye, but the journey was not a straight line up.


I remember my first call with Yavonne.. It was early 2017.  She was operating 2 restaurants in Columbus Ohio: De Novo and Olivers. Things were a mess.  Not because she didn’t care, in fact I have never met anybody that cares more, but because she didn’t know how to do it better.  


After working with Ryan for a few months on the phone, Yavonne said he was coming out to spend 3 days with us. For the first night, we planned a dinner at De Novo. We were ready to show him just how good we were. But that is not exactly what happened. 

For a Saturday night, the restaurant was empty, our chef literally fell asleep at the table, and most of the food was prepared wrong. The night was a complete disaster and extremely embarrassing. But, it was real and it was what we were dealing with.


When Ryan came out to work with us, I was managing another one of Yavonne and Wade’s restaurants. We all wanted to get better and we all wanted to learn but we quickly realized we had a lot more work to do than we thought.


It was so hard! For over 15 years, my husband and I struggled in the restaurant business. We couldn’t pay our bills. We were held hostage by our staff. Employees were on drugs, drinking on the job and stealing from us.

I thought I was in control because I was there every single day. I kept lying to myself by saying this is just the restaurant business.  I would blame everything that went wrong on our employees and truly believed that if there was a problem, hiring a new, “better” employee would fix it.

It is hard to imagine where we would be today without Ryan’s coaching and his courses.

A few months after we began working with Ryan, we realized we were living the definition of insanity. With his recommendation, we decided to close deNOVO, and sell Olivers to cover our outstanding tax debts. We knew that we wanted something different, so began working on a concept that we felt was magical. We researched communities, and landed in a quaint area, Covington, KY, just outside of Cincinnato, Ohio.

We wanted to get this one right from the start. 

With his help, a truck full of restaurant furniture, a credit card funding advance, and very little cash, Ryan, Wade and I created Agave & Rye.  

We thought about every detail from the start. Who our target guest was, what price points they wanted, what types of drinks, music, menu items. Where they hang out.  Everything was done intentionally and with some systems and procedures before we opened the doors, and more written everyday.


Day one was madness! We were busy from the minute we opened the doors. 

Sure, we had challenges to overcome but we had systems in place to ensure that our team was creating EPIC experiences for our guests. Word traveled fast.


Within 5 months we had begun negotiating with an investor who saw the magic in what we created and wanted to be a part of it.


After the sale, I stayed at Olivers with the new owners, but eventually rejoined the team here at Agave & Rye in time to help open up their second location. 

I took over the original location and Nich helped open up our Lexington location.


Liberty was our third location. All three locations were booming, so we began work on our 4th location in Louisville, which opened up 3 months after Liberty.  

And yet again, we had another huge success on our hands.

Then COVID19 hit. We closed for a week and strategized with Ryan. It’s been a struggle, but we were ready for this…we’re ready for anything! It’s been a wild ride, but we never buried our heads in the sand, we got to work and got creative.  While others were shutting down we opened a completely new concept next door to our original location in Covington and we’re currently sitting in the 5th location for Agave & Rye.


It’s hard to imagine that all of this happened within 3 years from the time that Yavonne decided to sell her original restaurants and open a brand new concept .. and now we have 5 locations with no plans to slow down!

We are simultaneously working on our 6th, 7th and 8th locations that will all be open in the next year.  

The systems and structure we have put into place are allowing us to grow at this pace.  Nothing happens in our company now without documentation and a policy.

It’s amazing to see how well this works.  The effectiveness of the way we manage now vs. the way we used to manage is night and day.


Our team members realize how different it is to work here. We see it every day in their eyes and the smile on their faces.


We see it with our guests and in the media too. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what it is, but they know we are different from other restaurants. They know we care more. We say that we are creating a love brand.  A brand that loves our guest, our team members and our vendors. 


Before working with Ryan, we were drowning. Drowning in debt, drowning in sadness, drowning in fear, drowning in the hours we were putting in and not seeing results.

Before Ryan we didn’t understand the power of systems, we didn’t understand the power of accountability, we didn’t know how close we were to what is possible, because we didn’t know what we didn’t know.  

And most importantly, we didn’t know how!


Systems are what allow me to manage my GM’s, so they can manage their teams, so our staff can do their jobs at exceptional levels.


Systems are what has allowed me to manage our store openings at such a fast pace, ensuring they are EPIC events that exceed our new guests expectations.


I worked for Yavonne and Wade in the original De Novo over 10 years ago. We were onto something. We all wanted it so badly, but we were just missing the know how.  

It’s amazing to see what they have built in less than 3 years. I am honored to be back on the team as the Corporate Chef for Agave and Rye and excited about what the future holds for everybody.


Systems are what allow my husband and I to work on our business instead of in it.

Ryan taught us those systems and, believe me, those systems are why we are living our dream…and having so much fun doing it! Just look around…how cool is this…we get to work with a dream team of people to create fun, new menu items and experiences for our guests to enjoy. After all, isn’t that why we got into this crazy business!


5 store openings in 3 years. My name is Ryan Gromifn and I help restaurant owners SCALE their business.