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Meet Kevin Franke of Olea Cellar. Craft. Cook. in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kevin Franke.

Kevin was born Kansas City, Missouri and immediately following his birth, he and his family moved to La Quinta, California. Kevin relocated to Orange County after graduating high school to continue his education which is where he found his passion for the hospitality industry. Kevin began his professional career with Blooming Brands Restaurant Group’s, Fleming’s Steakhouse and Wine Bar, back in 2007, where he also met Partner, Russel Bendel. He advanced his career by traveling and assisting the openings of numerous Flemings locations and took on an important roll in the expansion and growth of the company. After his time with Flemings, Kevin soon joined Russ and his Partners, at Vine Restaurant and Bar in San Clemente. As a group, they designed, built, and opened Ironwood Cellar.Craft.Cook in May of 2016. Ironwood was quickly named the Best New Restaurant in Orange County by the Golden Foodie Awards. The team has now moved on to a new wine country cuisine concept, Olea Cellar.Craft.Cook located in Newport Beach, CA.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There have been many unseen struggles that arise in the restaurant industry, like any business things can come from behind, the side and seldom right in front of you, You constantly need to have your finger on the pulse of your business and be ready to pivot and make the necessary changes or adjustments to keep the ship back on course to the underlying goal. Weather construction with a build out, food delivery issues, or global pandemic- we have to be able to keep our feet planted in the mud and continue to fight.

Please tell us about Olea Cellar. Craft. Cook.
We are a Restaurant Hospitality Group with four restaurants in Orange County. Our Concept is Wine Country Cuisine. We describe that as “Seasonal and Chef driven cuisine inspired by worldwide wine producing regions”.

I am a partner in the group with my five friends -one being the chef.

I am also a certified sommelier by the court of master sommeliers,

We pride ourselves in providing a custom dining experience you will not be able to get anywhere else. From the world-class food to 5 star service. We have an upscale casual environment set for group outings, business meetings, or to watch a game at the bar.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Growing up with a single mother and the youngest of three, I remember watching my mother work so hard to provide for us all. She would tell me all the time, “your either going to work hard when your young or work hard when your old- there is no secret so find what you love and chase it!”

That always was a strong memory for myself.

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