Urban Solace restaurant, located in North Park, is the first independent venture for partners Matt Gordon and Scott Watkins, who have 40 years of combined restaurant experience. Their restaurant serves delicious comfort food at neighborhood-restaurant prices, and it has exceeded revenue goals by 58 percent since opening in 2007. Urban Solace is also a critic's favorite, having received 13 food and restaurant awards in 2008 for such dishes as New York Cheddar Mac n' Cheese with caramelized bacon and charred tomatoes, and char-grilled prime Omaha hanger steak with homemade steak sauce and sweet potato mash.

Success was immediate at the North Park location, and he has since opened two additional “Solace” restaurants to accolades; Solace & the Moonlight Lounge in Encinitas, and Sea & Smoke at Flower Hill Promenade, Del Mar.

Best known for his American comfort foods, served with health and sustainable ethics in mind, Gordon's newest restaurant, Sea & Smoke, an American restaurant, explores the flavors of the wood-fired oven, a central feature of the space, with a modern interpretation of an American menu.

My Successes: 

When preparing to open Urban Solace, partners Gordon and Watkins used SCORE San Diego's free business consulting for financial advice and business plan guidance.  
"SCORE San Diego helped us with numerous aspects of opening our restaurant by pairing us with a diversity of counselors," said Gordon. "We had a team of consultants who could advise us on a wide range of topics because of their specialized business backgrounds, and there are no restrictions on the number of counseling sessions."  
Starting a small business is always tough, and the small business loan application process is especially difficult in the current economy. So, when Gordon and Watkins decided to open a second restaurant, they returned to SCORE San Diego for assistance.

Gordon's personal accolades include "50 People to Watch" by San Diego Magazine in 2011, "40 Under 40" by San Diego Metropolitan Magazine and "Best Chef" by San Diego Downtown News in 2008.

How SCORE Helped: 

"We returned to SCORE San Diego for help because restaurants are notoriously risky investments and the help SCORE gave us the first time around was invaluable," said Gordon. "Their connections and knowledge of bank loans helped identify lenders willing to finance a start-up business during a recession."  
For more information about Urban Solace, visit www.urbansolace.net or call 619-295-6464. 

What's Great About My Mentor?: 

"Due to the current economic crisis, banks have increased their credit requirements and, at the same time, have decreased the number of loans they're approving," said Paul Hollenbach, SCORE San Diego business consultant. "Our business consultants know what information banks require when reviewing a loan application and are able to help small business owners put together a strong business plan and resume that will increase their likelihood of approval."