In the choppy waters of an economic slump, Daniel and Desiree Tobin swam against the current. They took a chance by opening a restaurant in West Palm Beach’s
Northwood neighborhood and holding true to their own vision of what it could be, even when it bucked what seemed to be conventional wisdom.
Now Relish has turned five years old, buoyed by local and national reviews and word of mouth — with a little help from the digital age.
Name: Daniel Tobin (35) and Desiree Tobin (36)
Hometown: Daniel (Westport, Conn.), Desiree (Sunrise, Fla.)
Where you live now: Boca Raton
About your company: Relish is a five-year-old restaurant specializing in gourmet burgers, specialty salads, over-the-top shakes and hot fresh donuts.
How your business has changed: When Relish opened, in the heart of the recession, we really only served burgers and shakes. We began observing other establishments cutting portions and sacrificing quality to fit into a price point. We realized our guests just wanted to be “wowed” and were happy to pay a bit more for that experience. We began swimming in the opposite direction and expanding our menu to include memorable appetizers and snacks, specialty salads, an enhanced craft beer selection, more unique dessert options and updating the menu frequently including monthly burgers and shakes.
First paying job and what you learned from it:Desiree: I worked as a parking lot attendant and concessions operator at the Sunrise Musical Theater when I was 15. It taught me that hard work is not really work when you are having fun and enjoy the other people on your team.
First break in the business: Dan: At the beginning of March of our second full season a writer from USA Today featured us in the Travel Section. That was huge because every time a tourist who had the USA Today app on their phone, and landed at PBIA, would see us come up on their phone. Later, at the end of the year, we were privileged to be listed again as one of their ten best meals of the year!
Best business book you ever read: Dan: “Pour Your Heart into It” by Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz
Best piece of business advice you ever received:Dan: Remember that a restaurant is still a business and the purpose of a business is to make money.
What you tell young people about your business: Desiree: In our industry, it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of serving guests and micromanaging the restaurant. It was when we were able to take a step back and hire a really great team that we were able to work on the “business of the business.” That’s when our growth really took off.
What you see ahead for Palm Beach County:Desiree: Growth. Down in Boca, where we live, we see construction and development everywhere we turn. In West Palm Beach’s Northwood, where Relish is, there has been talk for many years of the construction that is planned.
Where we can find you when you are not at the office: Dan: At a park, a bike ride, or a local restaurant with our four year old, Asher.
Favorite smartphone app: Desiree: Yelp. It has been one of the biggest reasons for our success. It is made up of real people giving real reviews. The site has a way of filtering through the bogus reviews, both good and bad, and getting to the heart of the matter. It is the #1 way we find new places to eat.
The most important trait you look for when hiring:Desiree: For our management, we look for individuals who have skills that we lack. For our crew, we look for personality and dedication.