Explain what your business is/does?

American Burger is not your typical burger joint. It’s where you celebrate, special events, weddings and birthdays. It’s where you sing, dance, play and listen to your local bands. 

“Creating smiles with classic burgers” is our slogan. 

When did you start it?


Why did you start it? How did the recession affect you and your business?

The restaurant business is a family tradition; in 1997 my family took ownership of a Mexican food restaurant in Monterey. Primarily due to the recession it became evident that we needed to drastically change our business model for our survival. As everyone was affected by the drop in our economy we recognized a growing demand for affordable, quality, and universal meals served in a family friendly environment. So, American Burger was born.

What do you like about your work?

The smiles. I get to create memorable experience for every customer. Whether it be with a milkshake, an old time record or hosting the newest local band. I strive for there to be a positive energy around every experience. I enjoy meeting all the characters – the families, the musicians, the comedians or even the hungry and homeless.

The freedom of creativity is a major highlight as well, creating tasty meals (like the “Call Me Crazy Burger…), special events (like our monthly Hawaiian nights), or the next marketing strategy, I’m always engaged.

What are the challenges?

Is there a short list? For a small business I think not. Every day is a challenge; this is one of the toughest industries as a sole proprietor. Margins are low, demand is volatile – restaurants are the first to suffer when the economy dips. Work days are long and forget vacations; if you want to see your business thrive it is vital that you give 200%.

How did your CSUMB education prepare you?

After my graduation I proposed to my family that I had gained the tools to build this new concept and that I was now qualified to be the primary decision maker. CSUMB prepared me with an understanding of how to implement our vision and use business strategies to build our brand and position ourselves in tough market.

Do you have any advice for others who may be considering starting a business?

Prepare yourself for a long hard fight. A Multi-tasking, detail-oriented, driven attitude is a must when starting up your own business. One of the key elements is determining what value you have to provide your customers and how to best market that value. Be sure you have a strong support system of family and friends, let them be your first customers and spread the good word. Most importantly, make sure you have a great passion for your vision and that you will enjoy all the work you have ahead.