20 Under 40: Brandon Cohanim

Brandon CohanimBUSINESS
Age: 21
Business: Pōk the Raw Bar
High School: Beverly Hills High School
College: SMU
Community Involvement: Children’s nutrition program of Haiti – Went from village to village communicating the ways mothers can make meals from what they have.

For 21-year-old Brandon Cohanim, his first foray as a restaurateur began under the dim halogen lights of his college dorm room.

Between classes and school work, and often in the middle of the night, Cohanim began forming a plan on how to start and run his restaurant.

The plan came to fruition in 2017 when his poke restaurant, Pōk the Raw Bar, opened its doors in West Village.

Originally from Los Angeles, Cohanim came to Texas in 2015 for his undergraduate work at SMU.

He is studying economics, a degree he said goes hand in hand with his ambitions.

Among those ambitions is his desire to teach people how to live sustainably.

Cohanim recently spent some time in Haiti working with the Children’s Nutrition Program of Haiti, a non-profit organization committed to fighting malnutrition in the Caribbean country.

“We went from village to village communicating with mothers and community leaders about how they can make small meals out of what they have,” Cohanim said.

Among his incredibly busy schedule, Cohanim is working on his second restaurant concept. The eatery, called Namo, will feature a trademark Japanese dish as its primary claim to fame.

“It’s a completely different direction from Pōk, and it’s going to look so different,” he said.

What is the best advice you received when beginning your career? My grandfather told me “watch your overhead, watch your overhead, watch your overhead.” He was right.

What is your business philosophy? My philosophy is to know every single little thing about your business no matter what it is. No one knows more about my business than I do.

What inspires you? Inspired by innovation. Young entrepreneurs that are pushing the boundaries and taking the risk. I’m very inspired by the story of Sweet Green, a salad bar started by three graduates from Georgetown. Also George Biel with the Hillstone Group (restaurants)

If you could tell 16-year-old you anything, what would you say? Figure out what you love and do it

What is your proudest career accomplishment? Starting my restaurant. Helped me grow so much in such a short time.

What did you learn from your best boss or mentor? I didn’t really have a mentor, to be honest. Maybe the closest thing was my dad. He gave me some guidance and told me ‘you have to do this and this.’ He was able to help guide me in the right direction.

What was your first summer job? For 2 months during high school at the SLS Hotel in Beverley Hills.

What do you love about your community? A lot of people in the community have been supportive of me. They are always there to help me and want to help me in whatever way they can. They want to see me succeed and do something cool and new and different.

Where is the best place for a business power lunch in Park Cities or Preston Hollow? The Hillstone restaurants. Specifically the one in the Preston Center. The service, food, and atmosphere are consistently quality.

What is your fondest Park Cities or Preston Hollow memory? Running with my college friend and exploring the area on foot.

Where will we find you enjoying your hard-earned time off? Probably in another city. I love to travel if I have two days to go somewhere new.

What do you want your last meal to be? This dish called the “mama’s special pasta” from Madeo in LA.

What is your favorite color? Red

What fictional world or place would you like to visit? Neverland. It would be nice to always stay young

If you could be on a reality TV show, which one would you choose? Keeping up with the Kardashians. I think it would be really fun and entertaining to be in it.

What would your superpower be? To fly. Whenever i want to go somewhere i could just fly over there and I think that would just be the best.

Bianca R. Montes

Bianca Montes is an award-winning journalist and former Managing Editor of Park Cities People. She currently serves as a Senior Editor with D Magazine's D CEO publication. You can reach her by email at Bianca.Montes@Dmagazine or follow her on Instagram @Bianca_TBD. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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