The What’s for Dinner Studio Kitchen is owned by Daniel & Laura Bezden. They live in Round Rock with their three boys, Yeager 18, Zachary 16 and Kyle 12.
Laura grew up in Nacogdoches where her dad taught voice at SFA University and her mom was a music teacher. The family also owned two restaurants - Rossini’s, a warehouse style Italian restaurant and Annie’s Kitchen, a home style restaurant. While growing up, Laura worked in the family business for several years and then studied music, playing the Oboe.
Daniel was born and raised in South Africa. He studied hotel management and after working in the industry for some years, started his own restaurants, which he sold before starting a calendar publishing business. His mother, Erina, is the “Betty Crocker” of South Africa and she published over 40 recipe books.
Daniel met Laura met in San Antonio while he was on a three month trip to the USA, working as a management consultant. Following a year long, long distance relationship, Laura moved to Cape Town, South Africa, where they got married.
Although South Africa is a modern country with a good infrastructure of highways, cities and shopping malls, there was a bit of a culture shock for Laura. Stores used to close at 1 p.m. on Saturdays and were closed on Sundays. All of that changed during the 13 years they lived there and by the time McDonalds arrived, the lifestyle was much more American.
They grew their publishing business to become the market leader in the field. Their three boys were born there too.
During this time, Daniel’s mother would do menu planning with Laura and prepare a month’s worth of freezable oven ready entrees for the busy couple. Dinner was never a problem.
In November of 2001 they sold their publishing business to an employee and moved to Austin. In the aftermath of 9/11 companies needed help with marketing and Daniel produced over 50 Video Business Cards for various companies while Laura home-schooled their boys who were not yet in synch with the American school year.
They missed Erina’s cooking! In fact, there was a new culture shock in seeing just how busy Americas are and how household duties are performed by working mothers at the end of their working day.
Laura heard about two ladies in Seattle that franchised a business to help solve the dinner problem. Upon investigating it further, the Bezden’s realized they could not afford the franchising fee, nor did they want to sign away their rights to apply what they know about the food business. So they decided to go at it alone.
Having been in the Restaurant business, their philosophy was that “people will come the first time because this is a great idea, but it is only the food that will bring them back.” So they decided to build a commercial kitchen in which they can produce fresh food every day and designed it in such a way that the highest standards of hygiene can be maintained. They felt it would be important for each customer to have their own table for the duration of their visit and for the customer’s food to be covered safely, away from other customers, until it was ready for use.
Some months after opening their business, Laura traveled out of town to go look at one of the other franchised stores. Only then did it become evident, that they had created a Studio Kitchen that was truly superior in how it operates.
Although they maintain a very professional marketing campaign, over 70% of new customers still say “word of mouth” when asked how they heard about the business. A good indicator that customers are pleased by the quality of the food and the experience.
The Bezdens take great care to survey their customers and thereby create a score for each entrée they offered. This data is used to plan future menus, resulting in even more customer satisfaction as the business moves forward.
Their plan is to open additional stores in Austin, with the next one in South Austin. Following that they will expand their management consulting activities to help other entrepreneurs to open and operate successful Studio Kitchens.
The Bezdens are dedicated to helping you solve the “What’s for Dinner?" problem, for good!