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Kenneth Zankel is President and Co-owner of The Grove, the ever-growing group of social gathering cafes where guests enjoy music, American comfort food, drinks and all-around good times inside of unique and eclectic interiors. With four locations, Yerba Buena, the Fillmore, Hayes Valley, and the Marina (which will be closing its doors this June), Zankel is one busy man.
In addition to overseeing each of the four Grove locations, Zankel, who is also a music guru, personally customizes the music list for every location hand-picking each list from over 10,000 songs, ensuring that guests receive an entire experience each time they visit. Furthermore, almost everything seen in the Grove restaurants are custom and personal to Zankel and his wife, Anna.
Zankel paused to share the things he keeps nearby to keep the Grove vision going.
1. My Gretsch guitar (also in our logo with our dog) – which I use to take little breaks, and plug into my computer through an amp simulator with headphones, and play along with our highly curated playlist of 7500 songs for the restaurants I selected from my personal music library, many rare.
2. Vintage, limited edition photo of Bruce Springsteen backstage with the Sessions band, playing an acoustic and singing as if his life depended on it, as they look on amazed. A reminder/inspiration to me of amazing work ethic, art meets commerce, and “bringing it” 100% for every performance.
3. Three Books I reference often: “A Lapsed Anarchist’s Guide to Building a Great Business” By Ari Weinzweig who built the amazing Zingermans mini-empire in Ann Arbor and whom I have gone to train with there; “Small Giants: Companies That Choose To Be Great Rather Than Big” by Bo Burlingham; “Poor Charlie’s Almanac: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger.” The first is the best how-to ever by the unlikeliest guy ever, the second is on choosing between “as big as everyone wants you to be” versus manageable and a business you want to live in combined with a life you enjoy living, and the third is exactly what the title says it is by Warren Buffet’s brilliant lifelong business partner.
4. My glasses to see through the window into The Grove Yerba – Buena trees from the Grand Canyon in the dining room.
5. (blocked by my guitar!) Framed photo of my Wife, Business Partner, Designer of all The Grove Restaurants (and I was her client before I asked for a date!), and my favorite person, designer, and inspiration in the world: Anna Veyna Zankel