Did you always want to go into business?
My entrepreneurial interests started early, in the fifth grade. My friends and I pooled our comic books and then "leased" them out for other kids to read and enjoy. We developed a whole card system and tracked it—and we were profitable!
All throughout my studies at UTA, I was always extra interested and inspired when I learned about business leaders who had brought their unique ideas to the market with success. After great experiences with major corporate brands following graduation, the spark of entrepreneurship that began at a young age was ignited into great opportunities for me with leadership at DRG Concepts.
Tell us more about your company.
DRG Concepts is the only independent restaurant operating company in Dallas with multiple successful brands: Dallas Fish Market, Dallas Chop House, Wild Salsa, and Chop House Burger, all with original locations in downtown Dallas. We are centered on providing really delicious food in beautiful settings that our guests want to come back to time and time again. We are known for revitalizing areas with great energy wherever we open our locations—and for being a catalyst to bring more to areas where we do business.
What do you count as your biggest professional successes?
I am honored to have helped build a company that now provides 400-plus employees with opportunities and ways to provide for their livelihoods and families while growing as professionals. It is so rewarding personally to be able to contribute to our employees' successes and to help lead a business that is making life better in the community with food and experiences that our guests enjoy again and again. I am additionally honored to be working to make this company's growth possible and help take care of the company as a vital business that has a leadership position in Dallas, in Texas, and in the American economy.
To what do you owe these successes?
Throughout my studies and work, I have deliberately spent time connecting with business leaders whom I meet and respect. This is a very important part of my career that is continuing to shape how I proceed in business. Sharing best practices and the camaraderie among business leaders provides so much benefit, and dedicating time to learn from others and share insights as business leaders is key.
Do you have advice for anyone considering entrepreneurship?
If you decide to be an entrepreneur, you need to be prepared to give it some time. Give it some time, and give it all you have. Starting and running your own business is not a six-month gig to success. It takes time to grow your ideas and realize success.
Nafees Alam was honored as a distinguished alumnus at the annual Distinguished Alumni Awards last November. Learn more about all the honorees.