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Restaurateur Brian Mazza maintains a shredded physique, despite being president of New York City’s Paige Hospitality Group, whose first restaurant, the Ainsworth, took New York City by storm in 2009 with its gourmet-burger program. Since then, PHG has added six more restaurants. Below, the former Division I soccer player talks about growing his business and making time for the gym.
M&F: How did you set the Ainsworth apart from other restaurants?
BM: We got our start on the party scene with our first club, Dune. But that’s not sustainable. With the Ainsworth, we wanted to create a spot where you could take your in-laws, go on a date, watch the football game with your boys, or host a corporate holiday party—we were one of the first places to host a Sunday football party. And with that came the need for a strong food and beverage program.
What new trends have you noticed in the food industry?
Health and wellness are huge. People don’t want to just crush wings on a Sunday anymore; they want healthy options. Our mac and cheese burger is a big hit, but it’s, of course, unhealthy. We just released a new menu, and it’s more health-focused. My favorite new item is the roasted chicken salad. The vegetables we selected are just so juicy and fresh.
What lessons have you learned from fitness that carry over to the restaurant industry?
You’re only as good as your last workout, so I try to instill that in my staff that we’re only as good as our last burger. If you have an amazing burger on Monday, and then you come back on a Thursday and the burger isn’t up to par, which of the two experiences do you think you’re going to remember?
What’s one piece of advice you can offer budding entrepreneurs?
Everything can be taken away from you tomorrow, so it is up to you to dig deep and figure it out. That will make you successful during the hard times.
How often do you train?
I’m up at 5 a.m. every day, and I do something physical every day, whether it’s hard training or basic recovery work.
What do you do when you’re burned out?
I won’t allow myself to get burned out. It’s not worth it. I want to hit it hard every day, because I know when I’m 60 or 70 years old I might be limited by what I can do in that sense.