Setting up a Table 4 Two With Melba Wilson

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the “Table for 2” entrepreneur sessions at the New York Public Library hosted by the famous, Melba Wilson.

I must say it was by far one of the most inspiring sessions that I have attended. Literally from beginning to end everything was positive.

Let me give you a little history about Melba… she was “born, bred and buttered in Harlem”, which is something she stands strongly by. Her drive for success started at a very early age, when she landed her first opportunity to shine in the restaurant industry. The famous Sylvia’s “Queen of Soul Food” restaurant welcomed Melba with open arms as she transitioned from a cashier to managerial positions.

Her popular Sunday Gospel brunch not only caught the attention of the community but also a few culinary elites, such as Michael Lomanco, former Executive Chef of the 21 Club and Executive Chef of Windows on the Worlds Restaurant. Following their union, Melba produced live weekly Sunday Brunch sessions, within six months  her “Champagne Sunday Brunch” increased 65% of her revenue. Like a domino effect, Melba was presented with opportunities from renowned restaurateurs from Drew Nieporent, Robert DeNiro of Noru and more.

Funny after the presenter shared Melba’s journey with the audience. The first thing Melba said was “golly did I really do all of that”. Which showed that despite her success, she is an extremely humble person.

Being that she has a southern spirit, she kicked off the session by making everyone stand, look to their neighbor and say this phrase, “if you can believe, you can receive it and you can
achieve it”. This is something that I believe whole-heartedly, if someone does not believe in their capabilities, they may never reach their full potential.

If you were someone who wasn’t sure what your next step was, looking to jump into the restaurant business, your passion is taking over your thoughts, or you simply wanted to be free of the corporate world! This was the place that you needed to be. I found that I was in the right place and the right time, for where I am in life.

Over the next hour, Melba described her journey, her obstacles, how she tackled fear and the ambassadors in her life that kept her strong. Let me take a moment to share with you a few key learning tips from Melba.

How do you decide to leave your corporate job? Do what you’re most passionate about. Never let money be the driving force behind your goals. You have to do something that hits you in the heart.

What is the first thing new entrepreneurs should do? Align yourself with people who know the industry you want to go in. Get a good lawyer or CPA to review all of your documents and help you with permits and licenses.

Do you recommend anyone? Sure, my attorney Andrew Maloney is here with me today.

Attorney Maloney shared the importance of bringing passion to the table, along with commitment, tenacity and strong goals. Oh and being a restaurant critic! 🙂

Wait! Did I mention that we were served, Melba’s delicious strips of catfish along with chipotle sauce by a wait staff? 

I must say, it was simply delicious. I had to try it, even though I would pay for it later. But, I was extremely excited to hear, Melba is working on a recipe for gluten-free fried chicken! Oh Yeaaahhh!!!

Give me a moment, I am having a moment with my taste buds. Ok, I’m ready. 🙂

Melba, do you have any tips for upcoming restaurateurs? Ask yourself this…if not me? who? if not now? when? When you can answer that, create a list of your goals.

1) Write down the goal 

2) Create a timeline of how you can do it, when do you want to and what it will take to accomplish it. 

3) Get a mentor and get your hands dirty. 

Now that I have shared with you one of the most inspiring sessions that I have attended, you’ll have to wait to hear my takes on how good her food is. We will be stopping by Melba’s Restaurant next Tuesday, just in time for a jam session with Peta Wane and Fred McFarlane. I wish I would have stopped by last night to dine in the company of Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. 🙂


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