FBLA Presents: A Conversation With EverBowl CEO Jeff Fenster

Pravallika Nayak, Guest Contributor

To learn more about South Forsyth’s award-winning FBLA Chapter, click here.

To learn more about EverBowl, click here.

Listen to the full interview below:


Speaker 1 – 0:02 

Hi, I’m Pravallika.


Speaker 2 – 0:03

My name is Priyal.


Speaker 1 – 0:06 

And we’re both a part of this SFHS FBLA chapter and today we have a special guest with us. Mr. Jeff Fenster, the CEO of Everbowl.


Speaker 3 – 0:16  

Thank you guys for having me. And little fun fact, when I was in high school, I was a member of FBLA in San Diego.


Speaker 1 – 0:22

Oh, that’s so cool. Okay, so let’s start with our questions. So, tell us about how you grew up? Like, did you dream of doing this ever since you were little like, like, what were your aspirations growing up? And like, what did you want to do?


Speaker 3 – 0:39   

Growing up, I actually ended up going to law school to be a sports agent, and was going to be a sports agent and worked for Lee Steinberg Sports Agency. But while I was in law school at 24 years-old, I ended up having a daughter and it changed my whole perspective. So I graduated law school and decided I didn’t want to pursue that career and travel, and so I had to figure out what I was going to do with myself and what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I had to kind of find my path. And so entrepreneurship kind of fell in my lap that way, but no, when I was young, I had no intention of being an entrepreneur, it wasn’t even a real word back then, that I knew of.


Speaker 1 – 1:14

Wow. And how did you think FBLA impacted your dream of that growing up?


Speaker 3 – 1:21  

Yeah, I mean, FBLA was great, because it put me in the room with other like minded individuals. And, you know, back in the 90s, when I was in high school, ‘entrepreneur’ wasn’t a thing, you worked in corporate America. So the vision was, how do we go get a job and work our way up and navigate the ladder and surrounding yourself and making these relationships today with other like-minded people is going to open so many doors for you in the future. That’s what enabled me, then, which I didn’t realize, but I’m using today, those relationships from FBLA, I’m still friends with a lot of the group members, and they’re now kicking ass in different companies all across America, and so having access to them, and hopefully them opening doors, if I ever need it, and vice versa. That relationship capital, that investment in each other is so valuable. So FBLA was a great organization, I’m excited to see it’s still thriving, and meeting you guys in that organization. And I think it’s great.


Speaker 1 – 2:12 

I’m glad to know that FBLA, even our actions today, right now are still impacting even our older selves. So our next question is, what advice would you give to an aspiring future leader? And what do you think we should be doing at our age?


Speaker 3 – 2:29  

My number one piece of advice is always be learning. Don’t think you have all the answers, don’t stop learning and exposing yourself because I’ve gone you know, I’ve had nine companies, I’ve sold four of them, I failed with three of them. I’ve done all types of different things. I had no restaurant experience in 2016 when I started Everbowl. You don’t know what your future self is going to need. So to your point, being kind to your future self today is where we’d be learning. But the most beneficial thing I could provide, or the biggest piece of advice I can give is truly invest in relationship capital. What that means is make friends with as many people as you can, and I don’t mean, hang out and watch TV friends, I mean, real relationships, where you actually get to know them and you build meaningful, deep relationships, because that is the shortcut to success. It’s an escalator or an elevator when everyone else has to take the stairs, and it’s going to open more opportunities for you, once you’re out of school and into the real world. Nepotism is real, we all know, hey, so and so it’s just got the job because they were so and so’s brother, sister, friend, cousin, it doesn’t matter. Be that friend. You don’t know who you don’t know, and what they can do. And when you…start your own company, they can be clients. If you go work for a big company, they can also be clients or they can open doors and get you a job. So if I could go back, and what I teach my kids today is don’t overlook any relationship. Find like-minded individuals who have the same thirst for knowledge, the same desire to have a successful future, build those relationships early, because time is your friend, and see how you can enrich that by leading with value and being more interested and interesting and finding and learning. That’s where learning plays, because the more information you have, and the more things you know, the more conversations you can be a part of. So if I know the stock market, even though I may not own stocks, if I start to learn about and I hear a conversation going on about the stock market, I can get involved in that conversation and meet those individuals. It could be real estate, it could be food, it could be travel, it could be music, it could be entertainment, it could be sports; it doesn’t matter what the topic is. Don’t close yourself off to these topics, become knowledgeable so you can be involved in more conversations, which allows you to meet more people and that’s going to open those doors.


Speaker 1 – 4:39  

That’s amazing. Oh my God, that’s beautiful advice. Priyal’s going to ask the next question.


Speaker 2 – 4:45  

So what inspired you exactly to establish Everbowl specifically?


Speaker 3 – 4:51  

So I had sold a digital marketing agency and I was kind of driving my wife and kids crazy, and they said go do something you’re passionate about and because outside of my family and startups, health and wellness is my biggest passion. I wanted to basically solve the healthy eating crisis in America and help people stop eating fast food. The average American eats fast food 3.2 times a week, and so I realized if I can find a better mousetrap, a better option for them, that is going to provide health and wellness to them and allow them to be the best version of themselves, I can make some money and help people at the same time, and that was my goal. Everbowl is kind of the recreation of my passion of trying to stop people from eating fast food and eat better. There’s four excuses people make as to why they eat fast food or eat bad stuff, and it’s either that it costs too much to eat healthy, it doesn’t taste good, it doesn’t leave you feeling satisfied, or you just can’t get it. So Everbowl was built to be affordable, filling, delicious and accessible, and that’s kind of our mission statement every day and what we try to do. Now I get to do what I love, it’s a passion project that’s been growing and I’m excited about [it].


Speaker 1 – 5:56  

Yeah, Everbowl is definitely filling and it’s super healthy. Who do you think is like your biggest support and this entire journey, like who was there like probably standing other than your family, of course.


Speaker 3 – 6:11  

Other than my family? Just like one individual? Probably my mentor, David Meltzer. He’s been a mentor of mine since I was your age. You know, he’s…14 years older than me, but when I was nine, and he was older, I really started to get involved, and through that process, he was there not only to help push me and guide me and challenge me with good questions, but he was also there to support me when I was having some tough times. That’s part of going back to the last thing we discussed, relationship capital, having mentors and people in your corner that you can lean on. And it’s not just ‘Yes Men’ and ‘Yes Women.’ That’s the mistake I made early, that you need people who are going to challenge you with tough questions, they’re going to say, why do you think that’s the right choice? Have you considered? Maybe it’s a bad idea, because through those tough conversations, you’re going to shape your vision, your idea, your dreams into something that’s going to be more meaningful to you. That’s on you, at this age, to really find those people who are invested in you and care about your future. The more teammates you have…in your corner, the higher likelihood of success, and the more resources you’ll have.


Speaker 1 – 7:18  

Yeah, okay, thank you so much. What do you think were your biggest obstacles that you faced in achieving this dream of yours?


Speaker 3 – 7:27  

With Everbowl, it’s obviously been the last few years between COVID and supply chain craziness and inflation. You know, it’s been one thing after the other, but that’s part of it. Business, especially, whether you’re an entrepreneur or a business leader, the world’s always gonna throw sucker punches at you. I started my first company in 2008, during the Great Recession. I started a company right before COVID. You’re always gonna get hit with curveballs and black swan events, and one of the things as a business leader you have to remember is options is your friend. You always want to have options. And so creating a process and a company and an organizational structure that gives you those options to survive those crazy storms and those crazy black swan events. So the biggest obstacle for sure with Everbowl was COVID. You know, on March 18, 2020, I had to temporarily layoff over 400 people and close 28 restaurants. It was the worst professional day of my career. Got three open in May, and you know, from here now we have 60 locations and 1000s of employees. So we survived it, but it was an obstacle. It definitely took all the resources at my disposal and all the patience and determination and will that I had to get through it.


Speaker 1 – 8:37  

Okay. When did you plan to franchise Everbowl? Like, what made you make that decision?


Speaker 3 – 8:47  

COVID. So they were all corporate before COVID. Once COVID hit and we reopened, I couldn’t travel as much. And we had so many franchise requests from around the country, we had over 500 people that had already submitted email inquiries asking me if we were franchising even though we weren’t. It was at that point where we made a determination to pivot the business and switch from a corporate concept to a franchise concept, just because it was just easier. We couldn’t travel, we had people around the country ready to help us build the brand, and to my point I just mentioned about options, it was an option we had that we hadn’t used yet and it was time. So being changed ready is one of our core values and recognizing that change is important. You know, you don’t want to be Blockbuster. You guys remember Blockbuster? If you knew what Blockbuster was, you want to be Netflix and you want to be able to adapt and change to the world and when the world says ‘Hey, it’s time to change’ we had the option and we recognized it, and so we pivoted and now we’re a franchise brand.


Speaker 1 – 9:40  

Okay, and then Priyal’s going to ask our last question.


Speaker 2 – 9:44  

So if you could sum up your entire journey in just one motto or one life lesson, what would you say?


Speaker 3 – 9:55  

I would say hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. My journey has been one where, you know, I start new businesses in industries with zero experience. So I’m definitely not the most talented in that space, but through hard work and perseverance, I’ve been able to overcome it, and it allows everyone to win. You know, I say this on stages all the time, but I’m an ordinary guy who figured out what extra stuff I need to do to have extraordinary results, and I think that everyone can achieve those things. So no matter where you’re starting, or whatever skills you have, you can improve all of those and be successful through hard work and perseverance.


Speaker 1 – 10:31  

Okay, thank you so much for joining us here today Mr. Fenster, it was amazing to talk to you.


Speaker 3 – 10:38  

Thank you guys for having me.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai