“Never Too Late to Change” with Jack Chen

Business owner Jack Chen shares his story on how he went from being a Senior Consultant at a large IT firm to pursuing his passions of running a restaurant business. Chen is a Cornell University graduate with a degree in Computer Science. With his courage to change career paths, Chen has come to own two popular restaurants in Chinatown: Sakura Mandarin and A La Mousse.

About Jack Chen

Chen: I began working at an IT firm [Oracle] after graduating from college. As I was working at the firm I started meeting other restaurant owners and chefs outside my current job at the time. Simply based on the fact that I liked food, I was able to meet these great people. I thought the restaurant business was a very traditional industry and had many opportunities.


“When did you decide it was a good time to quit your IT job to pursue the restaurant business?”

Chen:  As my own business grew bigger, I realized it needed more of my attention. I knew that I couldn’t focus on both of my jobs so I had to make a choice. The restaurant grew so much within that time which led me to my final choice of staying with my business.

“How did you know you were making the right decision?”

Chen: At the time (still working at IT firm), I  was in charge of many restaurants and I knew that my team needed me. I was thinking it over and I knew that someone could  replace me in CSC but no one could lead my team at the restaurant.

“What was it like transitioning from being successful in a company setting to being an owner of a restaurant?”

Chen: It was definitely difficult for family since it was a big change. People asked me why I chose the restaurant but ultimately I felt safe in doing so. I had to plan a lot financially which really helped me grow as an entrepreneur.

“How did you start your restaurant business?” 

Chen: First, I saw the challenges in managing and wanted to take that into the restaurant business. I liked taking care of a whole team and being a leader to all parts of the process.

“What was it like transitioning from being an employee to an employer?”

Chen: As an employee, I was constantly seeking ways for the business (IT firm) to grow and seeing how I could develop my own skills. As an employer, I took those skills and applied that to growing a business of my own. I also take on the responsibility of a team and need to make sure that my employees are constantly moving on to the next level.

Concluding Remarks: What to Take Away

Chen: Remember to not be afraid of change. If you want to make a change in your career, you need to plan carefully. Always plan ahead and it will make transitioning to something less challenging. If you want something you need to really focus on that and put it into action!

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