Saul Katz is a young entrepreneur who has overcome every business challenge in the book.
At the young age of 20 he is the owner and manager of Day of the Dead, a unique Mexican restaurant, bar and live music venue in the heart of St Kilda’s Fitzroy Street.
Serving up a variety of Mexican inspired tapas, meals and cocktails, Day of the Dead is fast establishing itself as one of the area’s favourite nightspots.
Katz says he “busted his balls” through high school and saved manically before being offered a job managing a Moroccan restaurant, which he put his heart and soul into.
After a bout of illness and a stint in hospital, Katz did some travel before opening Day of the Dead with two business partners.
“The original arrangement was I would run the show and they would back me financially,” explains Katz.
However, after just seven weeks in to business Katz found himself left high and dry by his business partners. Having made their arrangement purely on a handshake, Katz had no recourse, so called the rest of the staff and told them it was over.
“We had like $200 worth of stock and I said to the guys, ‘I don’t know if I can pay you’. And they said ‘don’t worry, we will still get it done’.
“The guy that washed the dishes back then is now the head chef. He said ‘I’ll keep going until I can’t go anymore’.
“So, we moved all the stock we had, the dishwasher, the glasswasher and the refrigerator all died, so we took everything apart and found a parts supply warehouse and managed to put everything back together and got it fixed.
“Then we started to get some momentum, we haven’t been able to afford to do any advertising, but things were picking up and everyone has always gotten paid. There were lot of weeks where it was tinned tuna for breakfast, lunch and dinner but that’s okay.”
About eight months ago Katz got a call saying the building they are in has plumbing issues and the whole place had to be stripped out. He decided to pay all the staff one month’s salary and close the doors.
“But I didn’t want to close the doors, we had put too much into it, we had good food and good drinks,” Katz continues.
“So I basically spent a couple of days assessing everything and what I needed to do and started fixing it. I tore up all the floors and all the concrete and fixed everything that needed to be fixed, new tables, and put it all back together.
“I was working 16 hours a day- sometimes more- for 30 days on the nose and on the thirty first day we re-opened.”
“As it happens in hospo, the guy that was managing the joint, he had some issues and stopped coming to work. So it was a Saturday night, full house and just me here and I thought – we are going to be okay…..
“It is hit and miss now, it can be a full house or empty house, two people or 25. I just want to keep on going!”
129 Fitzroy St,
St Kilda VIC 3182