“Success to me is being able to go at your own pace,” says Mychel ‘Snoop’ Dillard, one of the most high-profile black restauranteurs in Atlanta, US, and the owner of Escobar with superstar rapper Tauheed K. Epps, otherwise known as 2 Chainz. And that pace has been exceptionally rapid of late.
Dillard’s tenacity has propelled her from a disadvantaged youth to business mogul, owner of multiple high-profile restaurants, bars, and salons. We discuss her success, an insider’s take on celebrity-backed businesses, and inspiring a younger generation.
A family of hustlers
Owner of Crave Restaurant, Members Only (an exclusive VIP lounge that caters to Atlanta’s celebrities, socialites, and business owners), Escobar Restaurant & Tapas Lounge, Escobar South, and philanthropic service provider DHG University to name just a selection of her vast portfolio, Dillard is – now – well-accustomed to success.
Having attended Vanderbilt University aged 16 after a difficult and, at times traumatic, childhood Dillard made a name for herself in Nashville as a financial adviser and nightlife entrepreneur, later moving to Atlanta for a fresh start and better business opportunities.
Dillard quickly established a name for herself In Atlanta, rising through the ranks as a serial entrepreneur, but how did she achieve her success?
“I come from a family of hustlers,” she says, “My mom is a very hard worker, my dad was in the streets; he sold drugs and things of that nature, so, even though it was on the illegal path you must have a relentless attitude.” While Dillard’s perseverance in the face of adversity is inspiring, her backstory is at times harrowing. She faced incidents of sexual abuse; she became pregnant at 14 and was forced to place her daughter in foster care for the first four years of her life, before getting her back. She pulled herself through these devasting events to become the successful businesswoman she is today.
After graduating university with a degree in economics, she followed a career in real estate before stumbling upon the restaurant and nightlife industry. Having been introduced into the world of restaurants, clubs, and lounges, she knew it would be an industry that she could tackle successfully by channeling her economics background and hustler motivations. “I just found a great passion and love for it,” she says, but it wasn’t until she moved to Atlanta that she took the plunge and consecutively opened five restaurants.
Dillard speaks of Atlanta with true passion and adoration for her adopted city. “Atlanta is the heart of black Hollywood; there’s a really big atmosphere and people have a love for good food here,” she says. Atlanta’s vast restaurant and nightlife scene attracts a variety of VIPs, from entertainers to athletes, often eager to take at least partial ownership in these businesses themselves. This led to Dillard getting connected to 2 Chainz, who was looking to invest in the restaurant industry, and a partnership was born, with Dillard as the operator and owner, and 2 Chainz whipping up some celebrity-focused marketing.
2 Chainz is a worldwide celebrity, therefore bringing with him swathes of “free publicity and free advertising,” which is, says Dillard, hugely beneficial for brand recognition. “A lot of people, when they come to Atlanta, want to go and eat at one of 2 Chainz’s restaurants,” she says. And with Escobar Restaurant and Tapas Lounge, Escobar South and newly opened Esco Seafood (a multi-level seafood restaurant open daily from 11am-3am) – they are spoiled for choice.
Celebrity-backed business aren’t always plain sailing and there are challenges, Dillard admits, but it works. In terms of the partnership with 2 Chainz, she is proud of her input. “I pretty much start the restaurants entirely by myself, as far as the menu, staffing and the systems that are in place,” she says, jokingly adding: “so he’s dealt a good hand”.
Paying it back
Success for Dillard doesn’t stop at her multiple businesses. She firmly believes in paying-back her success in order to give a lift to both the younger generation, and those who may be struggling to start out. “I think that once we have reached some type of level of success then we have a duty to reach back and lift others up that are trying to get into the same space,” she says.
Her latest venture DHG University has philanthropy at its core and allows those with credit issues to raise their credit score and offers a variety of courses such as ‘Saving and Investing’ and ‘How to Build a Great Team’ to help others start and develop their businesses.
Mentorship is a role Dillard firmly believes in, having been in receipt of it herself as a youngster. She accredits her continuing success to the “great teachers” she has had throughout her career. “Along the way I had mentors who helped me get into the position I am in, when things got rough. When I had my back against the wall, I was able to call these individuals for advice,” she says. Dillard’s desire to assist and inspire the younger generation is clear. Her aim is to pass on the skills she has learned and present them on a platform accessible to all.
What’s next for Snoop?
Forever moving forward, Dillard’s aims for the next 10 years are far-reaching. Taking a lead from her friend and businessman Dennis McKinley, who has recently franchised his successful company The Original Hot Dog Factory, Dillard is also exploring the potential to franchise her companies. “I am currently franchising Remedy Spa & Salon Suites, which I look forward to being able to offer as franchise opportunities, starting in October,” she says. Currently she owns and operates 15 fully leased salons.
Dillard’s next venture, she says, is “to get into things outside of just restaurants; I want to diversify my portfolio.” She is currently researching and investing in the stock market, while a recently successful acquisition of a dispensary that soon will open in Los Angeles will see her showcase her talents out West. Her motto for her next 10 years in business? “Low headache, high profit,” she says.
Beyond her business portfolio, Dillard is looking forward to her future. “I’m going to be getting married soon, so I’m really excited about that and starting a family,” she says. From her business training and determination to succeed, Dillard’s “inner ambition,” which initially pushed her to defeat the odds presented to her in her early life, has manifested into the creation of a successful business empire.
Dillard’s ambition now, she says, is to keep pushing on, “to create generational wealth and to continue to make everyone proud.”