Today we’d like to introduce you to Dara Rodger.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I come from a family of cooks and entrepreneurs. My family is Jewish and Asian, community and food are rooted in my two cultures. I grew up cooking and baking side by side with my parents and three siblings.
My story mostly begins with studying business management at the University of Denver.
After my degree, I worked in hotels in Colorado. But I realized that I couldn’t express myself and wanted a creative outlet. So, I got into a small culinary program in Denver called the Cook Street School of Culinary Arts. It was a short 4-month program where you got immersed in wine and food. Throughout the program, I got drawn towards pastry. So once I finished I got a job in the pastry department at Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, CO. I met someone there that played an integral part in what is now my restaurant Shift. We moved to Vail, Co and worked there together. He got a job offer in Flagstaff, AZ and so we moved back near his hometown to work on opening the Tourist Home and working at Tinderbox Kitchen and the Annex. Shortly after, we decided to open our own restaurant which is now Shift. I am now the sole owner and am loving mostly every minute where I get to run my own place. Shift is now over three years old and I couldn’t be more proud.
Has it been a smooth road?
Of course not, you learn something every day. You try to be prepared for anything but usually, it doesn’t work that way. The hardest struggle was going through a divorce and with that losing my business partner and chef. However, I’m thankful for what we were able to open. I now have a new sense of pride as the sole owner.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
SHIFT (noun): A slight change in position, direction, or tendency.
Our mission is to SHIFT the mentality of the “normal” dining experience. We are an American shared plates restaurant where food is meant to be enjoyed in a family-style manner.
I want to challenge locals and travelers alike to look beyond what they might consider a typical “mountain town” food. Shift aims to focus on bold flavors, a locally driven menu, and artfully composed plates served up amidst a casual and approachable ambiance.
I’m super proud of the following, support, but mostly community that we have been a part of. It’s scary opening a place, especially one that is a little different but have felt the Flagstaff Love for sure!
I believe we are different because we change our menu weekly. We have a chefs counter where people can watch the chefs in the completely open kitchen and talk with us. Not only does the diner get to experience something new but the kitchen staff gets instant gratification when they can speak to and watch the diner enjoy a dish. We get to create a relationship between the cook and the diner.
Do you feel luck has played a role in your life?
I believe very little in luck. I think luck can be nice but I mostly think that it is about hard work and determination. I feel that personally I’ve been thru quite a bit but have made good out of tough.