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Bringing a slice of San Francisco to Stafford - Jonathan Cushing profile

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: June 01, 2014

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WHERE WERE YOU BORN?

I was born in Illinois and raised in San Francisco.

DESCRIBE YOUR CHILDHOOD

I hung out in cafes and golf clubs; I've played golf since I was 12. I wrote a lot in cafes, a lot of existential stuff.

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A CHILDHOOD MEMORY

I used to make "pencil pals", which were pipe cleaners wrapped around pencils in different colours. They were sold in five primary schools and I had 15 people working for me. I was 10 at the time and it lasted three months. I was making $100 dollars a day.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB AFTER LEAVING SCHOOL? I worked in a science museum, the Exploratorium in San Francisco, explaining exhibits and dissecting cows' eyes. It was a really nice job.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS?

It was a lady; she was 19 and I was 16. I had a really big crush on her so I applied to work in the restaurant she worked in, but she resigned and I was devastated. It was a Mel's Drive-in, the chain featured in the film American Pie.

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO STAFFORD?

I went travelling after university. I love the weather here; it's a very similar climate to San Francisco although it gets a bit colder. The weather is never very bad here for very long and it's a really nice quality of life.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO OPEN BEAN ENCOUNTER?

I miss the food and coffee in the US. I had to create this place because of it. This is my version of a San Franciscan café.

It is now our fifth week of opening and the reception was shocking, it has been amazing. We are the highest rated restaurant in Stafford on Facebook at the moment.

Everybody is really excited. It's quite moving the reception we have got, it makes you push the standards even higher.

We don't sell Coke, we want to craft all our drinks so we import the syrup from San Francisco for our Italian sodas.

The standards of products I can buy are not up to my personal standards, so I have to make them. That's why we have the coffee roaster, because the only way I can control standards of coffee is if I roast my own.

WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION WITH A FORMER US PRESIDENT?

I worked 50/50 with Keith Luce on creating the menu for Bean Encounter, it has both of our recipes. He was a White House chef for Bill Clinton and had the No 1 destination restaurant according to National Geographic, The Herbfarm. He is my mentor.

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT?

Being rated number one general manager by age 19 of 50 branches of Johnny Rockets (a 1950s-style US burger chain). That's a big deal.

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE AIMS AND AMBITIONS?

Over the next five years, developing Bean Encounter and having five of them within Staffordshire.

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