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Meet Noah Holton-Raphael, Max Bahramipour, Jack Welles and Jack Biebel of Ggiata

Today we’d like to introduce you to Noah Holton-Raphael, Max Bahramipour, Jack Welles and Jack Biebel.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
The inspiration for Ggiata comes from our childhood. We grew up in Montclair, New Jersey. For us, the deli was a place we would meet after school, after practice, the morning after prom, pretty much any occasion that called for food. Because we all lived in different parts of town, the deli was always that central meeting spot we could go to grab a sandwich and debrief the party the night before or school or whatever it was that needed debriefing.

We didn’t appreciate how special that hometown spot was until we all left Montclair. Having a place like Belgiovene’s (our hometown deli) where we knew all the employees and all the customers and got treated like family felt normal because that’s what we grew up on. But really those kinds of places were harder to come by once we all moved away from Montclair and into cities like NYC and Los Angeles. It took moving out to LA and having to really search to find a great sandwich to convince us that opening Ggiata was a good idea.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I can’t imagine starting any business being a “smooth road”. We are all 24 or 25 years old, this is our first real go at getting a business off the ground. We’ve had to push our start date back a number of times as we’ve encountered new and more daunting obstacles. We’ve trimmed down our menu a number of times after realizing the spatial constraints that come with working on a food truck. I have no doubt that we will make more major changes once we are up and running, but part of finding success is being flexible and agile and adjusting to the challenges at hand.

Having a four-person team with all different skill sets has allowed us to adapt quickly. It has also allowed us to delegate tasks in ways that feel more manageable. At the onset of this project, we were warned not to get into business with friends, especially friends that feel more like family. To date however, our friendship has been our biggest asset. The trust that we’ve cultivated over the nearly two decades that we’ve known each other is comforting for everyone and is something that we believe will be pivotal to the success of Ggiata.

Ggiata – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Ggiata is inspired by the historic neighborhood delis back east. We aim to bring gourmet Italian-style deli sandwiches to Los Angeles. A staple of our business will be the mozzarella we make fresh each morning. For the delis that we grew up on in New Jersey and New York, this was a must. To even be included in the conversation for best delis, the mozzarella needed to be made fresh each morning. When we moved to LA and started visiting the sandwich spots, people were recommending and we noticed that no one was doing this. Even the spots that claimed to have “Fresh Mozzarella ” weren’t actually making it in-house daily (Not gonna name names but y’all know who you are…)

Additionally, attention to detail as it pertains to quality of ingredients will set us apart. You will not find Boars head in our sandwiches. You will not find bottom of the barrel produce in our sandwiches. We will be working closely with vendors at the Santa Monica Farmers Market to support local farmers and ensure we are getting the freshest heirloom tomatoes, escarole, Fresno chiles, eggplant, red peppers, and more. We have already teamed up with Superba, a legendary bakery and cafe in Venice to supply our baguettes, and will be sourcing our ciabatta from Bread Lounge in the Arts District.

Finally, having a graphic designer/creative director on the team will have an immediate impact. Jack Welles, the fourth member of our team, works as an Art Director at Weiden+Kennedy. Jack has already completed national campaigns for respected brands like Nike and Coca-Cola, and his short film was recently awarded the grand prize at the Moët Film Festival. Jack will ensure that our brand pushes the boundaries of what a food truck should be, in a world where marketing and brand identity is uber important.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
As a business, we’ve been fortunate to uncover a number of interesting opportunities organically, simply by talking about our concept. In an industry as competitive as restaurants/hospitality, you need to manufacture your own luck. We’ve done this by articulating our idea in ways that have inspired curiosity and interest.

We’ve been working with a PR team that has basically taken us on pro bono because they believe in our team and our business (Shoutout The Unidentified Group)! We’ve had family friends give legal advice out of sheer generosity. We’ve been lucky enough to speak with food truck operators and deli owners who have shared invaluable insights, and for that, we are incredibly grateful (Shoutout Daniel Shemtob of The Lime Truck and the guys at e Stretto Sandwich Shop in DTLA, currently serving the best sandwiches in the city).

“Luck” has played a huge role in the evolution and maturation of our idea and will continue to play a role if and when Ggiata is successful. That being said, “luck” has been the result of persistence. It does not come to those who are stagnant.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Kaylee Kepple
@KayleeKepple

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