Meet Chris Bily
What's a typical day like for you?
I LOVE breaking a sweat to get my day going... after coffee of course! Lately I’ve been drinking Cafe Grumpy out of Brooklyn and Glen Edith out of Rochester! My morning usually starts off with a 3-5 mile run or a crossfit session with friends at Urban Life Athletics in Syracuse. Breaking a sweat in the morning really helps me gain clarity, creativity, and energy that lasts the entire day! After, it’s straight to the restaurant where I first check in with all my staff. It’s really important for me to say hello & ask everyone how their day is going and make sure food, specials, and most importantly, my staff is on point and ready to rock the day! I try to read body language, energy levels, and know that by taking the time to talk to everyone, even if for a brief moment, shows that it’s not all just about plating food! It’s about connection with people. I know that by putting everyone in a positive mental mind-set prior to service, that positivity/creativity/enjoyment is completely seen in the food and makes for not only better looking/tasting food but great energy and positive team attitude. After a crazy lunch service I usually catch back up on emails, general operations paperwork, review new design ideas, brush up on new trends, write down new ideas, have my meetings etc. The one thing I love about being in this business at this stage is that there are so many variables and things happening that are never the same. While some might find it difficult, my “can’t sit still” mentality kicks in and allows me to focus on many things throughout a given day that have to do with not only general operations but brand and business development. I LOVE IT! In the afternoon evenings I try to squeeze in another workout/run and then try to connect with more people for dinner meetings or just hangouts with friends and family. I love having that time to ask questions and hear about others experiences and see how I can relate that to my lifestyle and business.
What lead you to start Original Grain? Can you tell us a bit about the brand/product?
Original Grain wasn’t my first restaurant. So coming in, I had some knowledge, experience, and definitely the motivation to do something completely different for the Syracuse area. During my time building my first restaurant, I met my OG biz partner and homie Eric Hinman. We clicked right off the bat and are now really close friends. We loved the idea of experiential dining; cool people in cool places, with amazing music, bold colors & flavors and great energy. These are the spaces we sought after when we started traveling to LA & Brooklyn/NYC for inspiration after realizing there was a real void in our market for that experiential dining and good-feels food! Simple food that was healthy, satiating and made you feel great after eating is what we wanted and what we lacked. Around summer 2015, after our travels, we realized we wanted to take our inspiration and create something special in Syracuse. So we told EVERYONE! We knew that once we told everyone, it would push us more to get OG up and running. I was so nervous and scared. Even though I had a lot of experience writing menus, being in the kitchen and starting restaurants, this was my first restaurant I would completely design and a lot of the pressure was on me to make sure this thing took off! I was the design/creative/operator, Eric was the ideas/brand/marketing guy. It is really important in business to not only partner up with like-minded people, but distinguish roles and responsibilities to make sure EVERYTHING is super detailed oriented and we could both laser focus on different tasks that when put together, would be an amazing outcome.
Finding the name is always a process for me. Why Original Grain? What correlation would people have with the name, food, people, music, culture etc? I must have written down hundreds of names, ideas, written menus until we finally narrowed it down. Original Grain jumped out at me because it sounded raw and natural to me with so much interpretation depending upon the person, their experiences, and their passions. People could make the association visually when they saw the name and the space because I intended on using a lot of natural wood grain finishes and we would definitely have some grain bowls on the menu. But I wanted people to look deeper than that, I wanted to look deeper. Original Grain is YOU! It’s authenticity, originality, creativity, ANYTHING you want it to be. I wanted people to create their own version of Original Grain in their mind, but at the same time, let us show them what Original Grain can be in food, music, art, culture.
We are almost at our 1 year mark with OG, and already looking to pop open in Rochester, NY in the coming months!
What gets you out of bed every morning?
The ability to get up every day and know that I’ve been gifted and blessed with life and filling people with an amazing meal and experience. And in my life I’ve been blessed to be doing something I absolutely LOVE. My passion for food, design, menu writing, music, fashion, etc is so transparent in what OG is and how it feels. Truly remarkable to be able to wake up and feel full knowing your following your dreams and doing what you love!
We’ve been so blessed with great fans and supporters of OG we are now looking to take the show on the road! Rochester NY is our next target location and 3-4 more Upstate NY cities in the next 2-3 years after. We’re also talking about doing a few more concepts for Syracuse NY, our hometown and a city that is up & coming and really taking a cool progressive turn for the better with more and more unique and experiential places popping up everyday! We want to be on the forefront of that progression and change. Its an exciting time!