Howard, Betty & Anita Hsu
Gezzo's West Coast Burritos
- How did you get into the restaurant industry?
Betty: I grew up in a small village in Malaysia. My mother loved to cook and I loved to help her all the time with making meals for the family. We had 8 total siblings, so she needed my help! I learned all my cooking from my mother.
Howard: My parents moved to the US in the 70’s and had their first restaurant in Alabama. After selling that, they eventually opened in Stockbridge as the first Chinese restaurant in Henry County in 1982. The eventually owned 7 locations throughout metro Atlanta, including 3 in Henry County.
Anita: Howard and I grew up working at Hunan Village on nights and weekends. Our parents taught us the value of hard work and helping the family, so this was normal for us. We grew to love meeting really amazing people in our community, and serving food was always a way to put a smile on their faces. When I graduated from UGA, like most grads, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So, I fell back on the restaurant business and opened Gezzo’s in McDonough. We have had so much fun at Gezzo’s, developing a team of amazing folks at work that are like family to us. We never looked back!
- What is Gezzo’s West Coast Burritos and what inspired you to open this type of restaurant?
Anita: Gezzo’s serves West Coast style Burritos, Tacos and more, with a creative and Asian flare. But, more importantly, our purpose is to have a positive & unique influence with everyone we come in contact with. We value every interaction we have with our vendors, guests and co-workers. We were inspired to make food that tastes good but also leaves you feeling good after eating. Howard and I believe in healthy lifestyles, so Gezzo’s is an extension of us.
- How many locations does Gezzo’s currently have and do you own other restaurants?
Howard: We have 2 Gezzo’s brick and mortar locations, and 1 Food Truck that travels all over for weddings, corporate events and community fundraisers. We also own Sweet Auburn BBQ in Atlanta and have 2 store locations and 1 Food Truck too. We are looking to expand to more locations in 2019!
Our parents taught us the value of hard work and helping the family,.. We grew to love meeting really amazing people in our community, and serving food was always a way to put a smile on their faces.
- How has your business model evolved since you opened the first Gezzo’s?
Anita: Our business was truly owner operated. Howard and I took turns working mornings and nights, so 1 of us was always there to develop recipes and make connections with our guests. Today, with 4 locations, we try to make a stop at all our locations each week. But, we rely heavily on our amazing team of managers and staff to make sure our guests have a positive and memorable experience at each visit. Howard works on new ideas, marketing and growth, while I create focus, accountability and operational efficiency for our organization.
- We understand you were early adopters of the food truck movement, tell us a little more about that.
Howard: Anita and I started the Atlanta Food Truck Park off Howell Mill Rd a few years ago. We needed a permanent place to sell our food to customers. Several other Food Truck owners voiced the same issue, so we decided to open the park! It was the first Food Truck Park in Atlanta. Although we saw great success, we decide to sell to our manager who continues to operate the park today. This gives us more time to focus on our restaurants which is our first true passion
Our mom, Betty, taught us perseverance. She immigrated to the US with only $30 and cleaned houses to save up money to help open her restaurant with my father. If I ever feel frustrated, I just think about the challenging journey of moving to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language or know anyone.
- Working with family can have unique challenges. What lessons did you learn from your parents and how do you find a way to make it work?
Howard: Working with family can be challenging, but I would not have it any other way. Because we are family, we know that you have to work things out because you can’t “quit” your family. You are gonna have to give each other a hug at dinner, or Betty is gonna kick our butts, lol!
Betty: I tell my kids that family is always #1. No one will love or take care of you more than family. So, when my kids disagree, I encourage them to forgive and work things out.
Anita: The first few years were rough and challenging. After 15 years of working together, we have built a lot of trust and understand each other’s strength and challenges, so it’s a well-oiled machine now….on most days at least, hahaha!
- The restaurant industry is a tough business. What do you think has made you so successful?
I think growing up in the industry was a huge learning curve. I also think that our mom, Betty, taught us perseverance. She immigrated to the US with only $30 and cleaned houses to save up money to help open her restaurant with my father. If I ever feel frustrated, I just think about the challenging journey of moving to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language or know anyone. I realize that anything can be accomplished when you put your mind to it! Plus, we surround ourselves with good, positive people. We hire people that share the same values as us, so that is translated to our everyday lives at work.
- What has been the most rewarding part of owning your own restaurant?
Howard: We are fortunate that our business is able to give back to the community. I really love those partnerships. It feels good to help organizations that are trying to make the world a better place. Anita: Gezzo’s was my first baby. It’s amazing to build something and watch it grow! It’s very rewarding to have the community appreciate what we have built, watch people smile and have a good time at Gezzo’s. I helped provide that opportunity for them. We have college kids eat at Gezzo’s that were first patrons as elementary age children. The fact that they still come visit Gezzo’s when they come home is really special. And it makes me feel really old!