Left: Kevin Boehm; Right: Dutch & Doc’s, which Shawmut built for Boka Restaurant Group.

Kevin Boehm, Co-Founder, Boka Restaurant Group

1. What is your favorite part of seeing your restaurants come to life?

Most things in life that end up being worth something have a pay in process. Restaurants are no different. The amount of tedium, sweat, and brain damage that it takes to open a restaurant is all worth it upon entering a newly-completed place. I think Rob and I have found ourselves addicted to the creation process. The alchemy of new people with new ideas, communing in one space for a common goal is the ultimate rush.

2. What’s the key to effective collaboration?

It starts with great talent, it continues with removing egos, and it’s all tied together with communication. Everyone needs to understand their lane, be able to take criticism, and know that what matters in the end is the final product. It really helps if the team agrees most of the time, but it doesn't always go that way!

3. What’s the best advice you have ever received, professionally or personally?

My mom refused to give me $5 in the summer of 1985. I was 15 and my mom had been leaning on me to get a full-time job over the summer. She looked me dead in the eye and said, “Kevin, just like God, I only help those who help themselves. I didn’t raise you to be lazy.” I got a job at Hardee’s that day and have been working ever since. She was the gold standard when it came to work ethic.

4. What sparked the idea for the Welcome Conference to go to Chicago?

Donnie Madia and I have both attended the Welcome Conference in NYC for years, and both independently and later collectively thought that Chicago needed a similar experience. The natural thing was for us to ask Will [Guidara] and Anthony [Rudolf] if we could bring their magic to Chicago. We are glad they agreed.

5. What are you most excited about for Welcome Conference Chicago?

I have loved collaborating with Donnie. We have evolved from fierce competitors to friends. Amazing what you can do together when you drop your swords for a second. We believe this amazing lineup we have put together is going to inspire and ignite this sold-out crowd. We can’t wait to be on stage sharing this amazing day with all of our peers! Excited about the speeches, the food, the communal nature of it all—and there are some cool surprises.