Owner, Starr Restaurants

Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images


Gateway Regional High School, Class of 1973

Temple University, Class of 1977

“I wanted to go to UCLA or NYU, but we didn’t have the money and my parents didn’t want me to go away.”



Radio DJ


Tchotchke seller, Atlantic City Boardwalk

“I worked 18 hours a day with Syrian Jews who’d been working the boardwalk their whole lives. I learned how to talk to people, how to promote. The only perks were the hot girls on the boardwalk and a nearby arcade.”


Co-founder, Starship Associates

“I formed a company with [documentarian] D.A. Pennebaker. We were going to make our own movies and TV shows and get famous. We pitched all of our ideas, but nothing ever happened.”


Owner, Starr’s comedy and music club

“The bank lent me $30,000 to buy a building, with no money and no collateral. I have no idea why they did that.”


Founder, Starr Restaurants, Philadelphia

First restaurant: Continental Restaurant & Martini Bar in Philadelphia

“I saw this old diner built in 1962 and made a martini and tapas bar out of it. It was this overnight sensation. Literally overnight. Huge.”


Opening of Buddakan


Co-owner, Morimoto

Masaharu Morimoto tricked me! He didn’t want to work at my restaurant — he wanted an investor to let him do his own. I told him no, but then I saw the original Iron Chef, the Japanese one, and I thought, This is turning into a big cult thing. This guy is going to take off.”


Opening of Morimoto and Buddakan in New York

Former New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni awarded Morimoto only one star.

“You put your heart and soul into something, and then you open the New York Times and realize that one man has your entire life in his hands.”


Opening of El Ray and Pizzeria Stella


Judge, Top Chef


Opening of the Dandelion, Talula’s Garden, and Il Pittore


Opening of Fette Sau


Co-owner, Hybird

Questlove had this idea for chicken drumsticks, and it sounded like fun.”


1. Give people a second chance. 2. If you want something bad enough, you can overcome almost any deficiency if you just practice over and over again. 3. You can work 40 hours a week, have a work-life balance, and still be successful.


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