Strawberry's Sports Grill

- Queens, NY

During his 17-year career as a Major League Baseball player with the New York Mets and Yankees (amongst others), Darryl Strawberry hit 335 home runs and won three World Series rings. And though his prodigious baseball career may not hold the same day-to-day excitement as owning a restaurant, it still requires the same amount work. The former eight-time All-Star and "Straw" that used to stir the Mets shared his thoughts with about owning a business.

What inspired you to open your own restaurant?
Darryl: My friend, Eytan Sugarman (pictured with Strawberry), had been talking to me about the possibility of opening a restaurant together for years, but I was never interested. He owns Southern Hospitality, so I spent a lot of time eating there and loved the food. It was really when he found the space in Queens that it just felt right. Queens is home, those people never forget and I have a lot of history there. This was a way of being able to give back to my fans.
What have you enjoyed most about owning a business so far?
Darryl: The people. I wasn't going to be the type of person to open a restaurant and never be around. I enjoy the time I get to spend in the restaurant, meeting and greeting customers and talking with the families. Above all else, I enjoy seeing my customers satisfied with the experience and the food. I've also been able to utilize the restaurant as a space for events that can give back. For example, we hosted Douglaston Community Day here this past year to help benefit my organization, Darryl Strawberry Foundation, as well as other local charities and league organizations.
What have you liked the least?
Darryl: Having a restaurant is not just a lot of work, it's extremely time consuming. The part I like least is the time it takes away from my family in St. Louis.
What are the keys to owning a successful business?
Darryl: For a restaurant, I'd say the key is great service and outstanding food. If the food isn't good, people won't come. It's also important to cultivate an environment where families can come and feel cared for and relaxed, at a reasonably low cost.
On any given night, what can you be found doing at the restaurant?
Darryl: Most of the time when I'm at the restaurant, I'm spending my time with the customers. I like to get to know the people that come in to eat or watch a game. Often, I like to join in.
What trait from being a pro athlete has come in most handy as a small business owner?
Darryl: Teamwork. Being a team player is a very important quality to have for almost anything you do in life. You have to be able to work well alongside others. Strawberry's is a family-run operation and we treat each other with kindness and respect.
What professional athletes have you hosted?
Darryl: Most of the 1986 Mets have been to the restaurant, including Dwight Gooden, Kevin Mitchell, Barry Lyons and Terry Leach. Nick Swisher has also made his way over to Queens for a visit.

Read Other Athlete-Owned Business Interviews:
Steve Nash
Bobby LaBonte