Nemanja Golubovic is the Founder and CEO of the vastly influential vegan restaurant chain “Kale My Name” was born and raised in Montenegro. From the inception of his career Nemanja worked in the hospitality field. Commencing his career as a host Nemanja began to grow his zeal for the hospitality industry. He then advanced through diverse stages in his career. As the multifaceted entrepreneur he is, Nemanja, found himself prevailing as a server, bartender, and floor manager. He perfected his craft in the food industry and was promoted to the general manager at one of Chicago's most engaged establishment's. Graduating with an impressive degree in public relations in addition to speaking four languages Nemanja is an ambidextrous traveler. He lived in several diverse countries where he was educated on international cuisines; that he would later implement to his brand. Prior to him rooting his entrepreneurial foundation in 2015 in the United States.
Q. Welcome, Nemanja. Can you tell us about your career shift from bartending to now owning one of the most popular vegan restaurants in Chicago and L.A.?
Hi, Thank you for having me. I actually started out working as a host giving out menus and showing guests to their tables. I knew nothing about bartending and I learned how to serve and then started learning a little bit about mixology and drink and how to bartend. That experience gave me a lot of customer service experience with a lot of face to face interactions. After gaining all this knowledge and experience I was then offered the position of a floor manager. I was operating that role for a while and then finally became the general manager. I didn't think that there was going to be any more progression in my career not knowing of all the other ways I could grow. I could never imagine myself opening up my own restaurant, especially having 2 locations within 2 years.
Q. Kale My Name opened in April 2020. Did the pandemic affect your business? If so, in what way?
Kale my name opened exactly when the world pandemic started and I immediately needed to improvise and shift from what I imagined it to be, to the way I needed it to be operating. We started with only take out and deliveries. I did not plan to start with takeout and delivery but that's what the pandemic forced us to do. It was a very good start and I think the pandemic affected us in a more positive way. We needed the experience and we needed to learn. It all worked in our favor and considering we are a 100% plant based restaurant it also worked in our favor. With all the health scares and going on around us people began to be more conscious about what they put in their bodies and changed to plant based diets.
Leading with Lee Feature
Leading with Lee Feature
Leading with Lee Feature
Q. What are some of the most popular dishes that people order when they visit your restaurant?
Definitely appetizers. We have some very unique appetizers such as tequenos, which are Venezuelan cheese sticks. Some people even describe them as cheese donuts. They are very unique to us because we are probably one of the only vegan restaurants that make vegan tequenos. Our empanadas are also very popular and one of our number one sellers. Almost every person who comes to Kale My Name orders the empanadas. Our overall number one seller would be the cauliflower wings. We do have a few different types: buffalo, BBQ, Lemon Pepper, or plain with all the sauces on the side. Our Chicago burger is also on our number one seller list and was also nominated for number one burger in Chicago.
Q. Are you thinking of expanding Kale My Name to other states?
This is definitely the goal and the plan but it takes a lot of time. Having two stores across the country can be very exhausting at times. I am trying to take some time to rest and recharge and then possibly in 2023 go for expanding to a third store in a new state. My ultimate goal is to have a minimum of one Kale My Name in each state. Possibly in 10 or so years maybe expand internationally.
Q. Showing up for yourself and others as an entrepreneur is hard. How do you keep yourself
It is definitely challenging and hard to run your own businesses. You don't work regular hours, you work 24/7 but what keeps me motivated is people. Not just the customers but the employees. I learn something new everyday and I love seeing people happy about the food we serve and the environment my employees work in.
Q. What does success mean to you?
Success is happiness and I feel the most successful when I am happy.
Q. What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I love to spend time with my puppy Kale. I still call him a puppy even though he is one year old because he will always be my baby. We love to go to the park and take really long walks. I don't have much free time but when I do it's always spent with Kale.
Q. What advice can you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who would like to open their own restaurant
I don't like giving advice but if i had to i would say not to listen to negativity around you. Let people doubt you and come back even harder and prove that you can do whatever you put your mind to.
Instagram: @kalemyname @nekac_golubovic
Facebook: @kalemyname , @nekac_golubovic
Interview by: Lee Kenielle Whetstone, Founder and Editor-in-Chief
PR: Pilar Scratch
June 23, 2022