by Jeff Lancing at

I barbacked for a year at a prestigious restaurant chain in LA and made full time bartender which lasted a good three years. I made great tips during the summers no doubt and was saving up for university classes for dentistry.

But I calculated that even with my top earnings, I was bringing home just enough to cover basic bills with about $500 left over per month. That would take me years to save up for tuition and a better future I thought. No way in hell I wanted to take out a crazy loan either.

I lucked out when a patron of mine, Garrett who I met by serving drinks to every Thursday and Friday happy hour, started giving me some very valuable advice. He would order the same damn drink everytime, sazerac with extra absinthe. Wild gent but very successful in investing.

He one day cued me in on how he made his fortunes, as he started off with real estate and just bubbled from there into stocks and investing in startups too, one of which was Bird the scooter company.

We got to talking more and more and one day I told him how much I had saved up for school, $7,000 bucks. This is when he suggested I allocate and invest about half or $3,500 into stocks or something.

He gave me a lead into thinking about how to invest and not just some stock tip of what company to buy in. He said SAAS companies or software-as-a-service was red hot and gave me a list to review and research on my own. I mentioned what about liquor companies? He said “do your own research.”

A month into it, I found myself investing about $3,000 into two companies one was Salesforce (CRM) and the other was Twilio(TWLO). I had no idea what exactly I was doing but believed I was researching while using some common sense. I also took Garret’s other advice and started looking into liquor companies I knew and ended up investing another $3,000 in SAM the Boston Beer Company (maker of Sam Adams) which comes to find out also makes a whole lot of other beverages, and also BFB the Brown Forman Corp, makers of good old Jack Daniels and Woodford Reserve. Boy all of those stocks did really well the past few years.

The end result was an incredible experience, in about one year while still bartending full time, I kept investing some of the $500 more or less I had left over after bills into these same stocks. By year two, the investments in which was about $6,000 total had grown to about $18,000. I had to cash out.

But, this money didn’t go into dentistry at all. During that last few years of bartending I learned a lot about operating a successful bar, what drinks were popular from all types of clientele and also the costs and profits per drink at the bar. This customer, also helped me in understanding business costs and financing.

I eventually took that $18,000, along with another $12,000 I saved as cash and teamed up with a buddy of mine who wanted to open a Italian cuisine spot in LA. We managed to come up with $60,000 to start and took out a small business loan to help.

I’m not going to glorify or try to up sell my own bar/restaurant for that sake but 5 years in, we are still around and have over 8 full time employees form the kitchen to the floor. Even during Covid-19, we still maintain an operating business within the city guidelines for safety and were successful in qualifying for the small business stimulus during this hard time. The good news is, we’re going to survive and be better than ever is our plan.

I write this because I believe investing is something anyone can learn and get good at. Outside of my restaurant business I still invest what I can every month with a buy and hold strategy like before. I also have recently invested in someone else’s business, mobile pre-mixed cocktails out of NYC The Wandering Barman.

When the team at ZEYDRA asked me to write about my experience as a beginner investor and now restaurant, bar operator, they said if I’d be interested in mentoring future bartenders or servers who would one day want to pursue opening their own business. I absolutely believe in the effectiveness of learning from someone successful but not on a pay-for-course basis like the ones you see selling business courses online, youtube video promotions.

Find someone who knows what they are doing and talking about, hell it can save you tremendous time and mistakes. Don’t just go swinging blindly, not in such a competitive world we live in, find good guidance in achieving your goals of better place and position in life financially.

I had to skip dentistry because in the end, I only pursued it at first because I thought it was a good route to make a good living. Now I just invest and run a restaurant and truly enjoy my lifestyle and interest in both.

The team over at ZEYDRA has put together a great list of online platforms that anyone, rich or poor can use to start investing their spare cash in. Most of these services on the list require zero or very little cash to start. I highly encourage any of my colleagues and peers working the service industry to think bigger and take your experience to move ahead. But it does take some guidance and prioritizing how and where you plan to spend your money the next few years. Again, this likely won’t be an over night process but it’s a great way to build some capital money to start your next journey.

Find a competent mentor if you can, obviously ask questions and make sure they know what they are talking about.

Check out that list they put together here.

Good luck and stay safe yall!