A veteran entrepreneur, Mike Dalewitz specializes in business restructuring and turnaround. He has built a career taking startups to multimillion-dollar success stories. He is also a highly sought-after speaker who coaches young entrepreneurs across the country where he teaches and encourages entrepreneurship through a unique blend of mindfulness and business strategy. By helping both aspiring and experienced business leaders balance the personal and professional, pursue passion projects, and gain a greater perspective, Mike supports talented professionals in developing and sharing ideas with their communities.
Born and raised just outside of New York City, Dalewitz completed New York Law School, earning a Juris Doctorate. He first worked as a lawyer before managing talent in the celebrity entertainment industry and later started a brand marketing firm in New York. He serves on various Non-Profit Boards serving Education Enrichment Programs, including Build NYC for Lower SocioEconomic HS Students, Bucks County Playhouse which brings Drama Programs to underserved communities and creating teaching accreditation for Drama Teachers taught by Broadway talent to improve their craft and help bring Drama class back to the schools.
Dalewitz has founded companies such as The Mindful Mentor, B2L Design Build, Inspired Review, Peak Discovery, and MD Events & Entertainment. He is also the co-founder of 618 Hospitality Group and ReviewRight.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Mike to discuss his journey to entrepreneurship and share his advice and thoughts on how restaurants can survive through the pandemic and set themselves up to thrive when restrictions are lifted and here’s what went down:
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
I have led multiple organizations from startup to multimillion-dollar growth and launched several fashion and hospitality brands. My leadership and communication style has inspired many young entrepreneurs who look to my expertise in strategic planning, innovation, brand marketing, and unique financial modeling. In my last venture, I established a new technology and model for the legal industry that has now, due to circumstances of Covid-19, become the global standard. I’m also a passionate coach and advisor with my alter ego, “The Mindful Mentor.” Currently, I’m the Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO of 618 Hospitality Group.
Can you tell us more about 618 Hospitality Group?
I was introduced to Nick Liberato just a couple of weeks before COVID-19 by a mutual acquaintance who happens to be a Rabbi.
Nick was in LA at the helm of his Restaurant Group and award-winning restaurant, The Venice Whaler, while launching Netflix’s Restaurants on the Edge, a show that focuses on helping restaurants in distress and performing consulting, restructuring and turnaround services, in a holistic manner.
I was in the Philly area and was seeking to get back to my roots of restaurants and nightlife after a final exit from the legal industry where I built and sold 3 multi-million dollar companies in the last 3 years. I have been in the middle of launching my alter ego, The Mindful Mentor, to providing coaching, mentoring, and speaking services to young entrepreneurs.
A higher power intervened and there was an instant connection and excitement to combine backgrounds and create a Hospitality Group focused on launching its own brand of unique “Good Vibe” restaurants with fresh food, great drink programs, and a focus on culture and music. The group will also have a restaurant consulting, restructuring, and turnaround division, with an associated investment fund.
The name 618 had many special shared meanings between both Nick and myself. Both of our daughters were born on June 18, it’s the date of my anniversary and we’re both huge “Dead Heads” with a love for the show 6/18/74 – Louisville, KY. Even our own birthday combinations have 618 in it.
Nick was from the Philly area but left for the West Coast shortly after graduating high school to pursue his dreams as a chef. He was able to bring a little bit of Philly to LA, like his famous cheesesteaks, and now wanted to come “home” after 20 years to be near his family and bring a bit of Cali to the Philadelphia area.
Days after we decided to launch 618 Hospitality, the coronavirus global pandemic arrived and impacted the world health and the economy, especially the restaurant and hospitality industry. Over the past 2 months, we have spent countless hours realizing that the launch of 618 Hospitality Group was needed more than ever to bring the restaurant industry back and help create the “New Roaring 20s.”
Together, we complement each other with various different skill sets that are essential to growing an amazing new Hospitality Group, even in uncertain times. We’re both truly authentic, passionate, and philanthropic individuals with a deep passion for helping others and have big plans to help restauranteurs in need.
Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start?
I love the journey to success question. For me, being an entrepreneur was instilled in me at a very young age. I used to collect cans and bottles as a kid to recycle and get 5 cents per bottle at the supermarket. I would wait a week and do it for my parents and then that extended to other family members and friends. I used that money to buy baseball cards and comic books along with my allowance that I would save rather than spend. I would rake leaves, plow driveways, help my parents in their business… basically, hustle, earn, and save. By age 11 I started my first real business under my Dad’s Tax ID #, MD Sports Cards, and Collectibles. I was doing trade shows and mail order in Tuff Stuff Magazine and Sports Collectors Digest. It became a multi Double-Digit Thousand Dollar Business.
I loved the ability to look at a competitive landscape, create a startup, hustle, and finessing the art of the deal. That energy has never stopped and I have had the honor of starting and successfully exiting many dynamic companies over the years.
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
Since 618 Hospitality is a new business, we are focused on leveraging social media and the creation of online content to spread the word to Restaurants and Bars in Distress that we have developed some unique financial models that will allow restaurants and bars to maintain and grow profitability during Covid-19 and beyond. We acquired BRAND NEW technology focused on the restaurant industry that will create a new model of success and innovation for restaurants, especially in the area of take-out and delivery.
What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?
Authenticity plus creating a raving fan base is the key to brand awareness. In the world of “new normal”, it is important to “keep it real” with everyone and be sensitive to each individual’s set of circumstances. You must be consistent in your messaging and utilize all the tools around you to boost your brand. You need to put yourself out there and connect with influencers to increase the number of touches you can get. Be active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Linkedin… essentially daily and utilize the power of networking.
The major differentiator of 618 Hospitality versus the competitive landscape is the people and technology. Nick Liberato has been a voice of calmness and stability for restauranteurs, especially through his lead role on Netflix’s Restaurants on the Edge Series. I come with a successful background in both startups and turnaround companies, have built game-changing proprietary technology in various groups, and had a career as a Contracts and Real Estate Attorney.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
Social Media and Publicity has been the most powerful marketing tools for me. You need to establish yourself as a leading expert in whatever you do and then you need to be out there daily and increasing your level of engagement and brand awareness each day.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
Being laser-focused on the “macro” of building 618 as there is a massive need to save an important industry and many people’s livelihoods. This has led me to not be as present in the “micro”, like spending an abundant time with my family that is very special. They understand me and encourage my purpose, however still difficult.
8. What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
Diversify your money and portfolio. I am an 80/20 Guy and I would say that you should keep 80 percent of your money in Low-Cost ETFs and the 20% should be more high risk and high reward type investments, that you should be investing in what you know or yourself. That number can be increased a little bit with a better track record. I made the mistake in my 20s to put all my eggs in a basket where I thought the bubble would never pop. We learned from this COVID-19 Period that most bubbles can pop.
What new business would you love to start?
I eventually would like my own Capital Fund that Invests in the Minds and Plans of Our Youth. Tap into the Universities and Find/Coach/Fund some of the next great ideas and companies.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
Truthfully… not much. I had learned some hard lessons due to Failure, Rejection, and “Getting Screwed”. This only allowed me to become tougher, smarter, and capable of learning what went wrong, how to improve or avoid, and to breakthrough any breakdown in both business and life.
Can you give some tips on how restaurants can survive through the pandemic and set themselves up to thrive when the restrictions are lifted?
The Restaurant Industry needs to change its Financial Model. It is fairly unpredictable on what comes in and out, while already riding strict margins. 618 Hospitality Group’s Mission Statement is “Helping Restaurant’s Thrive, Not Just Survive”. We have created various different financial models for both large and small restaurants and bars, along with proprietary technology and Nick Liberato, who has one of the best careers in Restaurant Turnaround both privately and on Bar Rescue and Restaurants on the Edge. Feel free to contact us via our website: 618Hospitality.com
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Negativity rarely leads to Positive Results. If you can keep a positive outlook and energy, no matter what the situation, you are more capable of finding a solution to a problem.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and fail at certain things. It is the best thing you can do to create something bigger and better. Also, proximity is power. Having access to the right people and capital will be a major differentiator between you and your competitors.