On Thursday, Oct. 6 the owner of the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Restaurant spoke to students in the Jamesville-DeWitt High School economics classes. Social studies teacher Dan Law organized the event in the hopes of exposing students to a successful local business. “Entrepreneurship is one of the big themes in the class, and I’m not an entrepreneur,” said Mr. Law. “I can only talk about what I’ve read and things that are in the paper.” He wanted to bring in someone with authentic experience who could speak intimately about the topic.
It can be difficult having guest speakers come into a school setting because there are always timing issues, and conflicting schedules. Also, not everyone is comfortable speaking in front of groups of high school students. Over the summer, Mr. Law reached out to the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que business owner John Stage. Mr. Law had eaten at the restaurant in the past. Interested in the length and success of the business, which has existed in Syracuse, New York since 1988, he “took a shot in the dark.” Luckily, Mr. Stage was perfectly willing to come, and responded to Mr. Law’s email within a day. “He was all for it from the beginning,” said Mr. Law.
During his visit to J-DHS, Mr. Stage spoke a little about his own history, but more importantly, about his successes and setbacks in business, and the hard work it takes to be an entrepreneur. “He did a good job of laying that out to the kids,” said Mr. Law. Entrepreneurship is difficult, takes a lot of hard work and you are “always learning on the fly” according to Mr. Law. An important thing Mr. Stage mentioned was the ability a business owner needs to have to continue to reevaluate themselves and their business, and be able to say that this is working, but this is not working. Mr. Stage stressed that his success in the food industry came largely through organization and awareness of his faults.
Mr. Law thought the event was successful. “He was able to talk about entrepreneurship as a whole,” he said. Although nothing specific is yet in the works, Mr. Law is looking for new opportunities for next semester. “My vision would be to bring in other types of people doing other types of things in the future.”
Mr. Stage and two partners began their business as a small mobile concession stand in 1983, according to the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que website. They first began as a restaurant when they opened a location in downtown Syracuse in 1988. They exploded in size in 1990, adding a bar, full-service seating, and live music. Despite its small beginnings, the business has opened eight restaurants on the East Coast, in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland.