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Small Business:
Keyia Yalcin
Interview Date:
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"As a young woman in my early 20’s, I didn’t feel like I was naturally talented at anything. My mom was a very skilled computer engineer, an absolute wiz—I didn’t have something I was a wiz at. I never really thought I was good at anything, except being nice and engaging with people.

Being able to connect with people—being a “nice person”—feels like an inadequate skill at first. But as time went on, I started to realize that being nice, engaging with people, and being hospitable were my talents."

"I decided to major in hospitality at Howard University and my first job was a manager at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown. It was a great job for many reasons, but I also had to be at work all the time.

I wasn’t ready to spend the entirety of my twenties working 60-70 hours a week, so I decided to start my own business in the restaurant industry. Little did I know it would be the same hours—except you are working for yourself, which does feel better. Either way, it’s still a lot of hard work.

I’m very much a dreamer. I’m here, I’m there, I’m everywhere. I have a lot of ideas.

I had to learn how to be consistent. And the person who really taught me about consistency was my husband. He is very focused and does the same thing over and over. He showed me that you have to consistently do the right thing when no one’s looking, even if there might not be a reward.

And for many years there wasn’t a reward. My husband and I struggled in this business—to the point where starting this restaurant was the last hurrah. Fortunately, all of our past experiences collided at the right time and place and it’s working out great."

"Success to me means something very different today than it did years ago. I used to measure success by how I was doing in my career, how much money I was making, how many restaurants I had, and how many boxes I could check. Right now, success is measured by how happy I am in my marriage. Am I spending time with my kids and my family? Am I giving other people opportunities to shine, thrive, and grow?

Success is about all of these things—things that don’t cost anything.”

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At Fishnet, the quality of every plate we serve starts with the quality of our fresh fish, which we responsibly and sustainably source from regional waters whenever possible. We pride ourselves on the kind of chef-driven details that have long been synonymous with fine dining, but that is delivered to our guests in a cozy unpretentious fast-casual setting.
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