Sip Coffee – Josh Katz chats it up about how their coffee houses navigated COVID

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Transcript

00:02
You’re listening to the bar and restaurant podcast where hospitality lovers come to listen and learn with expert David de Lorenzo. Now here’s your host, the D low.

Delo 00:13
And we are back with another episode of the bar and restaurant Podcast. I am your host the diello. And today I have a very special guest Josh Katz. How are you, sir?

Josh 00:22
Oh, good to be here. Thanks for having me.

Delo 00:25
Yeah, it’s exciting to have you we, we haven’t known each other long, but I feel like we’ve known each other for a lifetime if that makes sense. We’re like brothers.

Josh 00:32
We are like brothers. from another mother.

Delo 00:34
I absolutely love and appreciate the friendship that we’ve been able to establish. Actually, it was probably during COVID it was one of the things

Josh 00:44
right yeah, sorry. Melissa. Linked us together right at the beginning or COVID we met right here. Yeah. Where she connected us and we’re like, What the hell’s going on here? And what are we gonna do?

Delo 00:55
And then a week after I met with you, I caught COVID Yeah, yeah,

Josh 00:59
I remember that. That’s crazy. He didn’t tell anybody No, I just said you don’t you’re sick and

Delo 01:04
stayed home and yeah, answer phone call that you made it. Yeah, thanks Me too. Twice. But anyways, alright, Josh, where where were you born? Where did you hatch?

Josh 01:13
native? Yeah, it’s Arizona right here in the valley

Delo 01:16
and growing up in Arizona. Did you anticipate that you would be owning multiple businesses that are

Josh 01:26
absolutely not I went to school up north and EU and that’s where my career in the restaurant business started and later found my passion to be in full service download restaurants and yeah, so I’ve lived around a few different places you know from there I went to Denver and then back and then I went to shoot I went to Chicago for a while there for a few years and then I came back and to Southern California we spent about five years and came back and makeover sense was it was your first job bussing tables. My first job was at a place called the barn which was on it’s not there anymore. was on 59th and Bell sold Steakhouse sawdust on the floor in country music and yeah, I think it was like 15 and I was introduced to the wonderful world of restaurants and that’s why I kind of got my shoe and

Delo 02:25
yeah, you never you never went back you went to the hospitality school and then he did. What was that like that school still existed? Isn’t it? A very

Josh 02:33
good school? Yeah, it’s uh you know for me I just I kind of learning by a Dewar you know, learn by doing Yeah. So I can honestly say there was a lot of takeaway for me in you but I certainly enjoyed my time up there. Yeah, yeah.

Delo 02:50
I can certainly

Josh 02:52
understand your the cool pines of Flagstaff.

Delo 02:54
Yes. Yeah. I went to an au probably. I’m not sure what year it was. I think it was like 90 No, 93

Josh 03:04
it’s like 100 years ago. Yeah. 100 years or 92? Yeah, so

Delo 03:08
there’s same time I’m kinda in the same vein as you I enjoyed the pines and the weather among other things, and then you graduated from ASU and then what did you end up doing then

Josh 03:20
in a year from there I went to after an IU I went to Colorado Denver, actually Colorado Springs I ran a restaurant called zeos Italian kitchen and did that for about a year opened up called restaurants with them in Denver and it’s too far away from home as lonely so I came back and did some stuff here in the valley the chaos and our sushi and did my time on Mill Avenue which was fun and that’s pretty much what I did for the last you know, 2025 years is you know, everything under the sun really I’d run resorts nightclubs, but mostly casual dining restaurants.

Delo 04:00
So you got and then that got you into consulting.

Josh 04:04
Yeah, so when I got married, I, you know, didn’t want to spend my life running restaurants and I got to the point where I was really I felt like I was watching my life go buy from the inside of a restaurant you know, and when I got married I really wanted to see my wife obviously right so love the business still hated the hours so i thought you know what, I’ll, I’ll do consulting. So I did that. Yeah, so it was my first client.

Delo 04:29
You met your wife where you were you did bodybuilding shows that Yeah,

Josh 04:33
I did I did Men’s Physique not at all my thing but I did it was great because I got in shape and it was an experience and probably something I’ll never do again but

Delo 04:45
well for those of you that don’t know Men’s Physique is not the it’s not like the the button hugging you know, tighties it’s, you’re actually wearing a bathing suit.

Josh 04:53
Yeah, board shorts. So yeah, it’s a little different than bodybuilding actually did a show I think with your dad.

Delo 04:57
Yeah. Yeah, I think so. I think you’re right. Show Yeah, we we are guilty both of doing that as well. It’s funny how you’re a nice world just kind of about the same and then you got into herbal life, didn’t

Josh 05:08
you? I did. Yeah. Talk about that. network marketing you know, again, it’s just some lessons are learned the hard way. Yeah, it just wasn’t for me great company. I mean Herbalife is the number one nutrition company in the world. And their products are great. As a matter of fact, I still take some of their products, some of their meal replacement shakes and some of the teas and stuff but as far as the business not my thing.

Delo 05:31
Yeah.

Josh 05:32
Is that and but I saw my wife so I’d

Delo 05:34
say your wife, right. Did you have a smoothie shop or something?

Josh 05:37
I did on the west side. We had a we had a smoothie shop and we did one on one personal training and group fitness and sort of did a lot of things on that spot.

Delo 05:45
So now you have a wife, beautiful wife. I may add very sweet and you have a new baby. Bodie. How old is Bodhi

Josh 05:54
Brody? Brody is seven months going on? 15 years. I mean, he’s calling like a bat out of hell. And she started actually daycare today preschool high down the street. And, you know, starting to get them acclimated with other kids and socialized and it was kind of weird. Let them go away already. But yeah. He says right. He’s my world. Yeah. Right. Enjoy.

Delo 06:24
And your wife. She was working at a housing Taylor Morrison. Yeah. Taylor Morrison. And now that you’ve got some other stuff going on, she’s working for your operation.

Josh 06:34
Yeah, so we talked, you know, prior to Odie being born actually. And, you know, we wanted to create a life where we spent our days together and she could be home with him and we wouldn’t have to send him off for daycare seven days a week or five days a week, 10 hours a day. So we when we open 36 below we thought you know, this is a good time. You know, we’ve got another location and sustain salaries and everything so, like retired from our corporate america full time job and now we’re working together. What?

Delo 07:08
what’s what’s Brody’s favorite cartoon?

Josh 07:13
So it’s a couple ones up with a pig. And he loves Blue’s Clues. It’s crazy. My wife watch Blue’s Clues. I’ve never even heard of blue. Oh, yeah. Watch it. Yeah. I never didn’t mind was like, you know, Mickey Mouse and Popeye and bunny runner and all that Roadrunner. Exactly. Did you?

Delo 07:32
Do you seen the Shark Song to ready? No. So what’s the sorry shark? Oh, my God. Baby shark. Thank you. Yeah, my nephew’s Oh my god, every time I go over there, it’s a Baby Shark deck. Yeah. So okay, so we so we kind of move into that now. You You know, you you own some coffee stores, you own the city, you know, this new really cool swanky bar and what we’ll get into all that, but you know, prior to that it has not been hasn’t been easy. And you and I have a very relatable, you know, let’s just say passed, and what’s going on? And I know alcohol played a big part into your life. And how did that to revert back to look at that? How did that how did that situation that at the time seemed to be like the ultimate low actually turn into something to create the ultimate high for you, you know, to create it now create a family and be a successful businessman and define God and your life and all that stuff that’s important to you.

Josh 08:33
Yeah, no, that’s a good stuff. You know, it’s, um, you know, it was a terrible time in my life, you know, I was an alcoholic and drug addict for, you know, a long time. You know, it wasn’t until my mid 30s, where I decided to, well, I was gonna die. You know, it wasn’t just, I woke up and didn’t like who I was anymore, I was literally going to die. And it was either, you know, die or make a change and live. And now, I was living in Southern California at the time. And I worked for a reputable seafood company, keen specialists at a collection of casual dining restaurants, and a collection of upscale restaurants as well. And a very strict code of conduct and I went to work and I was drunk, and they fired me on the spot. And from there, I went on a 10 day drinking binge, it nearly ended my life. And so, you know, it was do or die, really do or die. So I made the decision to get some help and turn my life around.

Delo 09:30
And and, you know, I’ve gone through kind of the same situation and was able to find my wife and put a stop to the, to the madness that was, you know, drinking for me. Yeah. And it’s, it’s interesting, because when you make that choice, you know, you just kind of make it and you you see that there’s other choices to be made on the other end, you know, and to be happy with that. And I’m sure that you’re completely static, you know, to be at where you’re at now, and you don’t even

Josh 09:55
look back like 100% I never thought that I could get sober you know? I tried millions of times to do it on my own, I just never thought it was possible. As a matter of fact, at one point, I just kind of accepted it that this is who I was going to be. And this is the way I was going to live my life and right. And, again, it just got so bad that I was gonna die. So I had to, I had to make a change, and it’s made me who I am today, you know, overcoming adversity, everybody’s got a sad story to tell in a difficult situation, or situations that they’ve had to go through my story is no different than anybody else. But the only thing different about it is it is my story. But it’s, it’s definitely something that has fueled my success in business. You know, I think that once you learn how to grow and start to do work on yourself, you see the value. Yeah, doing work on yourself. And today, I have to work on myself harder. And I work on my job, you know, that’s a daily, daily routine. And I have to do I have to, you know, to be spiritually fed, and talk to God and work on myself and read and continue to push myself because, you know, this thing that I have that is this disease, I guess, if you will, it never goes away. You know, I might stop drinking, but drinking was just a, you know, a sign that something else was wrong. So

Delo 11:12
how do you how do you compartmentalize the fact that you now own a swanky bar and serve alcohol? And you’re, you know, basically an alcoholic? And yeah, that’s a

Josh 11:21
great question. What goes through? Great question. Yeah, I would have thought, right. It’s the only way. It’s the only way I could do it. Like, there’s no way that I could have done the guy that was drinking vodka ball at six in the morning. could want to borrow now, right? Yeah. So you know, I’m very careful about the choices I make. And where I put myself, I understand my place, My place is not behind the bar. It’s not making the drinks. It’s not even concoction, you know, designing the drinks or anything. I don’t really have anything to do with that. Sheldon. Yeah, that’s his thing. And, and Moe has got his place. And we’ve all got our unique set of skills that we focus on. And mine is, is the business side of it. Yeah. And the marketing and my wife helps with that. And so it just works. You know, I certainly don’t recommend anybody that’s trying to get sober to go work in a bar or restaurant, you know, but yeah, whatever reason, because of the work I continue to do on myself, and I just know that, you know, I’m not okay, you know, to work in a bar, I have to do the work. And I have to know, and be aware that I’m only one drink away from destruction. Yeah. And so with that, in the, in the thoughts that I have, and just a wreck, you know, being aware, you know, keeping those darkest times in my addiction are my best assets in sobriety.

Delo 12:34
Yeah, that’s, that’s very well stated. And if you look at it, you will also look at it has, you know, it’s not a judgment on what anybody else or other people do, there’s, there’s a lot more people in the world that can control you know, what it is having a good time with a drink then and can’t and to provide a, an establishment that’s entertaining, and creates five and creates obviously, good drinks, you know, is is, you know, again, it’s running a business and it’s doing it the way that you know, you want to do and being creative and your hospitality at, you know, at the end of the day, and so, when you talk about your team, how important are those guys to you?

Josh 13:10
super important. I mean, this is a this was definitely a team effort. You know, if you talk if you’re talking about 36 below, and the elegance and the dynamic of it, you know, it was a huge small space, huge undertaking, but, you know, it’s very important that we had that set of skills that we had in the team of people we had that worked on, I mean, we had the best of the best that have worked on this project. Yeah, you know, Sheldon, he’s he’s a world renowned met mixologist. He’s dubbed the fastest bartender in the world right now. Mo he’s got a very unique he’s very versatile. He does a lot of different things sweet and I’ve ever met, and he loves him. He’s, he’s, he’s my right hand. And so we all just know what we’re supposed to do. And we meet and there’s communication and it just works.

Delo 13:53
Yeah, yes. That’s great. How did you how did you end up acquiring, you know, sip from not having it to begin with?

Josh 14:03
So I was uh, I met Travis through another friend Travis was the founder of SAP Hammond Tita. And they were getting ready to open Shea soup soup kitchen on Scott’s own Shea. And my friends, hey, come look at this, you know about to open this thing. And I met Travis and, you know, they kind of introduced me as a consultant. And he said, you know, how can you help us? And I said, Well, let me take a look. And so I spent some time and all the locations and kind of gave them did a SWOT analysis and give them feedback. And he goes, man, how do we how do we get you to be a bigger part of this? And I said, well, so pay me maybe a small equity piece pay me and so we did that. And I once I got involved, I just I really noticed that wasn’t a lot of people involved that cared. And the people that did care just didn’t really have the skill set. Take it further than, you know, dangerous had taken it as far as it could go. Yeah. And, you know, even Moe at the time, he was super green, but he was the hardest worker, and the really the only person that cared about the concept, you know, all these other people is about on other things. But not running a business and building something special. Right. So, yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s been a lot of work, you know, I had to get in there and imagine you buy a house sight unseen, and then think is a good deal. And you get in there and you start to tear walls apart, and you find moss and you take it all the way down to the foundation, right. That’s what we did with CIP. We took it all the way down to the foundation, we changed everything, but a lot of processes and procedures in place. And now we feel like we have a good brand.

Delo 15:46
It’s amazing. I mean, and that’s a brand that I would my assumption is based on our conversations you’re looking to grow.

Josh 15:52
Totally, I think our next location is definitely going to look and feel a lot different than what the two locations you experienced now. Yeah, you know, we’ll definitely shrink our footprint and you know, our, our offerings, shrink our food offerings and our menus, our beer selections, but there’ll be a small version, but it’ll it’ll just be you know, in terms of efficiency or just be suitable. Better. Yeah. Like in

Delo 16:15
Herbalife and in 36, below is your new baby. So kind of give a for people listening who don’t know anything about get, you know, give a description of what it is that people are that you’re first of all, you’re walking down into a into a pit of an oil change, you know, an old old what Jiffy Lube or something like that. It

Josh 16:35
was an old Amos lubrication shop. Okay, so it’s a little bit bigger than your average Jiffy Lube. So I had three garage doors, and then I had a garage Bay where they wash the cars. Were now it’s our drive thru for sip. And then yeah, like you said, one side of the oil Bay is our kitchen. And the other side is 36 below.

Delo 16:53
Yeah, yeah. And the whole theme and everything. How did that come about?

Josh 16:57
Well, it’s from where we ended up from where we started to where we ended up as worlds apart. You know, we when when rich called me from undertow and last year and engineering and said, Hey, we might be relocating undertow. I was super jazzed. Because, you know, when I first acquired sip, and I learned that undertow, there was a little cool bar down there. You know, I watched them just murder it down there for years. And I said, if I can ever get my hands on that thing, and take that on myself. So, we Sheldon and I, Sheldon was first person I call it obviously, because he’s a beverage guy. So I said, Hey, you want to take this on with me? He goes, absolutely. So we started kind of designing it ourselves. You know, we were just kind of googling shit on, you know, internet and finding like, we’re going to do this cool, like, cave cavernous type thing where there was still lag tights and stalagmites. And then we met with our branding specialists. And she goes if you guys are trying to appeal to women, which we were, what’s sexy about a cave? Not really? Yeah, no, you’re right. So I was enter dolla on the household form. Yeah, you know, very

Delo 18:02
well had it was with her yesterday.

Josh 18:05
And she, so we met with her, met her through our contractor. And we told her kind of what we were doing. And she came in and experienced the space with her team. And, you know, we told her the name of the bar, and she, you know, kind of what we’re thinking of doing. And then she pitched us on three ideas. And the third one was a greenhouse. We just fell in love. That’s so cool. Yeah, so and then the scenes that you see. So what we’ve done is we’ve we’ve taken elevations from Google Earth. And we’ve recreated some of my favorite scenes from Flagstaff, because it’s my favorite place in the world. And we’ve added in some elements of our own, and we worked with the local artists, Rachel smac, who’s amazing, it was her vision to kind of add the screens. And then she worked with the programmer out of New York, Adam Smith, who works with invisible maker. And you know, from where we started, we were going to do these like plexiglass sort of windows, fake windows with plants. And then then it just evolved. Well, we can do this. And we can actually do this. And once we got this team assimilated, we realized that we had like some of the best people involved in in the industry and what they do, you know, we had the best tech guys, we had the best technology, we had the best writer we had the best designer. And so we like we can do a lot. So just kind of evolved into what it is today. And it’s it’s it’s beautiful. We feel proud of it.

Delo 19:20
What is what’s the significance of 36 below for people listening.

Josh 19:24
So 36 below is in the book of Genesis and the 36 verse of numerically if you were to count the verses that talks about the creation of man, and how no trees or shrubs could spur because there are two key elements missing water and someone to nurture the garden. So you walk down there and we’re nurturing the burner garden.

Delo 19:45
And it’s limited hours and operation and all that sort of stuff. Yeah, three

Josh 19:49
to midnight right now, seven days a week. We’re gonna expand our hours here pretty soon on the weekends to one. We’re gonna open up for brunch here Saturdays and Sundays. We’re adding a other group meeting room we’re not a meeting room it’s a social gathering room at the Rose Garden it’s another 100 square feet we’ll put about 12 to 15 more people in there so nobody knows we’re still planting seeds that haven’t spurted yet

Delo 20:13
well let’s talk about your personal what’s really important to me and for people to know is about you know, you as a person and your personality and obviously it will get a little bit of a about that from the beginning but as far as your day What is your day look like? Like what do you do in the aspects of you know, business and health and what are your non negotiables for the day and you know, what, what are those things that you have to do obviously family is a huge part for you You know, you know, so is it like you know waking up and having breakfast and Brody and you know, or going for a walk or yeah what what is your day look like? Well, I

Josh 20:45
have non negotiables like you just mentioned I absolutely do and you know when Bertie was born I really got derailed from a lot of the stuff that meant a lot to me like meditation and prayer and even workouts you know which an eating right and all that stuff time with my wife so those are all non negotiables but you know daily I try to wake up Eat Pray meditate time with Brody time with the puppies and then I’m off to work I my wife gets up really early she hits the gym and I’m hoping that’s my time with birdie in the morning. I feed them and get him ready and then I’m off and I’m usually at the gym around nine so yeah and then I you know as far as my business day is different it just you know basically you know this business there’s so many moving parts chaotic mess chaos and it’s just depends on you know, meetings and what’s going on and what location and everything but you know, I just hit the locations I try to spend at least a few days in each location every week and rub shoulders and you know, it’s it’s important to me that I’m in the trenches with my people and they know that the owners you know there with them present Yeah, I’m president and spending time in the building so

Delo 21:53
do a lot of your patients know you are you so kind of under the radar. Yes,

Josh 21:57
I try not to like get to I mean, I just just not my personality you know, I guess it’s because I touch tables for years. Right? Right right. And that was my job as a floor manager I did touch tables and make sure everybody was having a great time I just I got so tired of doing that that is not at all what I want to do at it I don’t mind engaging with people and having conversations but it’s just not something that that I do a lot of I don’t get behind the counter a lot and made coffee although I do from time to time but you know I’m more in the in the backdrop and the see you know behind the scenes doing stuff

Delo 22:28
it seems like I miss you by five minutes every time I go in yeah you a picture. No, that’s great. And you know, as far as like going out to eat and all that do you guys go out locally and have any favorites or

Josh 22:41
Yeah, we we went out for the first time in like six or eight months my wife and I since he was born probably went up to the quarter and went to Zen burger. I don’t really have you know, I’m not I’m not a huge foodie. But I and I don’t actually enjoy even anymore. I love coffee. But no I just you know I feel like I love my home I love my family yeah dogs and you’re done you’re done he’s gone you know I spend you know six eight hours 10 hours out and I just love being home but you know I love supporting local whenever we go out we definitely try to support local that’s what works for sip is all about as our hashtag support local or very community driven. So I try to walk out walk I’m going to talk to talk

Delo 23:23
I would say you’re just getting started so I you know I honestly the future with you is so bright you surround yourself such a great team and that mindset and that drive. I think having a child quite honestly, john your toes even more.

Josh 23:39
Yeah, well my wide becomes different. Yes about him, right. Yeah, I do I pay, you know, for for many years and till he was born. It was about me, right? It was all about me. And now it’s about somebody else

Delo 23:51
isn’t like no, that’s awesome. I’m gonna ask you a few questions and you can just give me short or long answers. What do you prefer the beach or the woods? woods? Okay. I’ve seen a lot of beach pictures of you lately. haven’t gotten up to Flagstaff or no, no, I’ll

Josh 24:11
yeah. Talk about the smell of pine trees that I just love.

Delo 24:17
Just love that. Yeah, you probably get a second house up there. Right? Someday Someday. tacos or ice cream

Josh 24:22
tacos. Ice cream.

Delo 24:27
That’s a good answer.

Josh 24:28
That’s a tough one.

Delo 24:30
You know what I and you know what I keep forgetting to do in here. So at least we can have a little bit of it. Oh, are my lights on? Oh, my lights are on. Did you turn those on? Oh, nevermind. I’m losing my mind. Okay, air travel or road trip.

Josh 24:43
Air travel. Yeah. I get I get bored and there are a lot of partners short attention span. So aliens or sea monsters aliens, bro.

Delo 24:54
There you go. Oh, I got a special gift for you too after this weekend. Baseball Or a music concert?

Josh 25:02
Probably music concert these days? Yeah. Good.

Delo 25:06
Would you rather do an iron man or a CrossFit competition?

Josh 25:09
Definitely not CrossFit. Okay, crush it. Iron Man, for sure. And

Delo 25:15
do you know how to swim? I swim once. Yeah, same here. It’s horrible. Would you rather take knitting or pottery,

Josh 25:23
pottery?

Delo 25:26
And Run DMC or LL Cool. J. Oh,

Josh 25:29
man, come on. That’s a tough one. And probably Ll that’s still like, oh, either way on that, right? Yeah,

Delo 25:37
they’re both great. I’m

Josh 25:38
definitely we thought you were gonna say the rat or Def Leppard.

Delo 25:41
Well, let’s while we’re bringing it up rather than glamour Exactly.

Josh 25:44
It’s the same right and yeah, yeah.

Delo 25:47
That’s funny. That’s so cool. Well, I Dude, it’s so awesome to have you here. Um, you know excited to watch your growth I’m excited to be part of your family I’m grateful for you know, our friendship and just this short span of time and you know, there’s a lot more fun to be had. So where can where Can everybody find you? I know you have a great social media manager as well. Where can everybody find you your handles? What’s the preferred method of like finding out about Instagram for

Josh 26:13
36 is just 36 below at 36 below you go to a website www dot 36 below easy calm you can check out all of our things going on you can even make a reservation there sip coffee and beer calm. What are online? Visit us on our web, Instagram sip coffee and beer underscore well so we’re we try to make ourselves known.

Delo 26:37
Yeah, one location off what Indian School and 36th Street

Josh 26:41
needs for sip and then Old Town old water and Scottsdale road. Yeah. And 36 is that something new coming up here in the next six months to Oh boy. Oh

Delo 26:51
boy. Got stuff rolling. So yeah, please go support local. It’s got great coffee. And the the 36 below that. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. But obviously you got to get reservations ahead of time. It’s very, very well sought out for and yeah, that’s it, man. Thanks for coming by.

Josh 27:08
Thank you, sir. Good. Good to be here.

Delo 27:10
Good to good to have you. If you are listening. Please take time to leave me a five star because it helps with my analytics and you love me. I know you do. I can feel it through the camera and through the mic. I got Casey over there laughing and thank you again for Casey for his amazing production value and how wonderful and so anyways, that’s it. This is the low bar restaurant insurance bar restaurant podcast. Thank you, everybody and peace out

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