LadyDrinks Member Spotlight: Mona Panjwani, Restauranteur, Lokal

Mona Panjwani first wrote me in 2015. She had a fledgling event planning business. It was her passion away from her corporate identity as a compensation analyst. I invited her to an event and she said, “Who do I talk to? How do I network?” She was overwhelmed by the prospect of engaging strangers and talking about herself.

It’s been amazing as both her friend and her colleague to watch her blossom from that day to a full fledged lady boss. Today she is the new owner of Lokal Eatery and Bar, a gastropub in Jersey City. Her member spotlight here.

When we first met, you were realizing your passion for event planning. Buying a restaurant is event-planning-on-steroids. What spurred this move?

When the events planning business took off, I started mulling the idea of finding a venue. My own venue would provide limitless opportunities for hosting events in-house. During the search, I came across this gorgeous 6,000 square foot waterfront location in Jersey City. At the time, it was an artisanal beer restaurant. But I could see the potential. I had never owned a restaurant before, but I welcomed the challenge.

What skills would you say transfer from your previous avatars to running a restaurant?

My soft skills in people management, project & financial management. My passion and drive to go above and beyond to create wonderful and memorable experiences. Those are the skills I bring with me.

Everything is sourced locally in your restaurant. Why lead with ‘eat local?

We recognize the changing spirit of Jersey City. This is a town of immigrants. We’re the ‘new’ locals. Sure, the city is just across the water. But I want Lokal, which is German for “local,” to become a place locals can visit for just as fascinating food, drinks or happy hour any night after work. We are also sourcing as many ingredients from New Jersey as we can. Our Executive Chef Walter Donadio is transforming these locally sourced items into delicious international platters.

What is happening this week? 

The restaurant opens to the public this Saturday, September 21st, with dinner service only for the first 2 weeks (closed Mondays) and brunch starts weekend of Oct 5th. Find us at www.lokaljc.com and @lokaljc on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I read a quote yesterday. Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity. What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs whose passion and boldness can be mistaken for something else?

Women, in addition to being courageous, should also be passionate story tellers. I have learned that the more I share my journey, the more I inspire and motivate. My advice is never stop just because you are perceived a certain way.

What are the 6 things owning a restaurant has taught you?

  • Create experiences!
  • Be genuine and show the world who you are
  • Be courageous & be able to handle difficult conversations
  • The people you hire are the key to your success. I hope to be an effective leader & stand tall with the support of my team behind & with me
  • Follow your gut
  • Find my foothold in a male dominated industry

To become a LadyDrinks member, go to www.ladydrinks.com and click on membership levels.

Upcoming events

  • Sept 21st HOUSTON https://bit.ly/2lCKwql
  • Oct 3rd PUBLIC SPEAKING CLASS  https://bit.ly/2KhnnU8
  • Oct 8th CHICAGO https://bit.ly/2Ze2Tk1
  • Oct 10th LadyDrinks Webinar “Building Company Cultures with Author Leena Patel” https://bit.ly/2TfISYn
  • Oct 17th LadyDrinks Diwali Bazaar https://bit.ly/2kD7Unw
  • Nov 14th Workshop with Efficiency Expert Ari Meisel
  • Nov Lunch and Learn with networking expert J. Kelly Hoey, author of Build Your Dream Network
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