Angela Petro employs over 150 people in several businesses that she owns, including Sweet Carrot restaurant and food truck, the historic High Line Car House event space and Two Caterers. Petro's mantra and time-tested secret to success: "Stick it out and work like you never thought possible."
Even over the phone, Angela Petro's voice crackled with energy and determination. Petro, who employs over 150 people in several businesses that she owns, including hip Sweet Carrot restaurant and food truck, the historic High Line Car House event space and Two Caterers, one of the city's top hospitality companies, was describing her imminent trip to Denver on Super Bowl weekend.
That Denver getaway would tellingly mix business (peer-mentoring with another woman entrepreneur - Petro is passionate about mentoring and gender equality) with the pleasure of skiing. Yes, this describes a go-getter riding high. But, as Petro explained via email, her road to success has been dotted with ample low points.
For example, after Two Caterers' inception, when the company consisted of only Petro (who'd recently graduated college) and a friend, Petro wrote it wasn't uncommon to "be in the shop at 4:00 a.m. to rise croissants, make sandwiches for lunch deliveries, take phone orders and make more food … then change clothes to bartend a party, return at midnight, write up more orders, wash the damn dishes and mop the floor, exhausted, wanting to cry."
If this was too often par for the course, sometimes Petro found herself in a veritable bunker of misfortune. Once, as Petro amusingly recounted, that bunker was filled with meatballs.
"My original business partner had moved to California, and it was my first holiday season alone. I had 500 scratch-made mini meatballs in the oven, had already worked 15 hours, and the last thing I had to do was cook the meatballs. Well, I went to take out the trash and locked myself out - with the damn meatballs in the oven. Fast forward: meatballs also trashed and [I'm] CRYING. I think I got four hours of sleep, because I had to make more meatballs."
Those tough early days taught Petro about the personal drive necessary for success - which she powerfully summarized as "I would never let a client down, even if it meant breaking myself."
"And that's what I tell people when they talk about starting their own business: Are you willing to sacrifice everything, including your dignity, to keep your customer agreement?" she said. "If you aren't, you should think hard about starting a hospitality-based company. Because, when I thought about quitting, I would remind myself that someone had trusted me when they could have picked another business."
Even armed with this hard-won knowledge and experience, Petro said launching her latest business - Sweet Carrot restaurant opened at 1417 W. 5th Ave. in Grandview last November - still meant weeks of "12-16 hour days, losing 10 pounds because there was no time to do anything but hang on. It was like drinking from a fire hose." What got her through it? Petro's mantra and time-tested secret to success: "Stick it out and work like you never thought possible."