Photo by Tommy Garcia/BravoMaybe it’s the English accent but somehow Lisa Vanderpump has managed to seem classier than all the other Housewives in the franchise. So even though she’s been sucked into the drama with her Beverly Hills co-stars like Adrienne Maloof, she has managed to maintain some perceived level of sophistication. Perhaps the fact that she frequently cuddles her well-dressed Pomeranian Jiggy adds to her distinguished mystique.
There’s also the reality that she’s a seasoned restaurateur, along with her “dahling” husband, Ken. Viewers often see Lisa in action at her two fancy SoCal eateries — SUR and Villa Blanca. And watching her run those ships somehow grounds her in an authenticity that some of the other ladies who lunch on TRHOBH just don’t seem to project.
Now Lisa has her own spinoff, Vanderpump Rules, which will follow her behind the scenes at SUR. In a recent conference call interview she talked about the key to being a successful businesswoman.
Lisa conceded that enjoying her career is a major determinant, “I just love the entertaining factor of it. I love the design. I love the setting up. I like creating the ambiance. And if you're passionate about what you do — which I am, I love being in them — then I always feel that you never have to work a day in your life if you love what you do.”
And she clearly does. Over the years, Lisa and Ken have opened countless establishments. As she noted, “Each one has its own identity. You can't overlook the fact that we've had something like 26 in London and some of the most significant restaurants like Jewel, and Piccadilly Circus is 12,000 square foot there. The Shadow Lounge was one of the most innovative gay clubs.”
The 51-year-old added that SUR has a special place in her heart because it is unique. “We've created a lot of different venues as we go along and the Sur project was just my latest baby really. And it was incredible venue — just to have a garden in the middle of West Hollywood, to be on Robertson. When I found the space next door… I couldn't resist it.”
Lisa also couldn’t abstain from hiring a bevvy of hot young employees to work at SUR and they’ll be her costars on Vanderpump Rules. She explained how she corralled the sometimes unruly bunch, “In Sur it's a little different. And that's what makes this project and this show so unique is the fact that the staff there are very different. I don't know why, but Sur is a little more difficult to manage than any other place. While I could liken it a little bit to the Shadow Lounge in London that equally was challenging.”
Since Lisa and Ken joined forces with SUR’s co-owners Guillermo and Nathalie Zapata in 2005, they’ve had time to build a consistent base of employees over the years. As Lisa noted, “It's just the nature of some of the staff that work there. Nearly all of them have worked for me at least for a minimum of two years so it ends up becoming like a family — albeit a family with problems.”
Still the mom of two grown children confessed, “I do have, I'm not saying motherly feelings, I'm very firm… I am their boss. I'm very firm. I hold them to a certain standard but this restaurant in particular.”
The fact that the restaurant is located in the heart of Tinseltown adds to the challenges. As she remarked, “It's in West Hollywood. They all want to be doing something else, which is annoying to me that it's not their priority. They all don't want to go into the restaurant business and it's the nature of the beast in West Hollywood and Hollywood and Los Angeles. I know many, many of our servers want to be actresses, models, dancers, singers. That's just who comes in for a job here.”
But as any good mom would, Lisa loves even her problem children. She acknowledged, “I suppose they're a little more precocious in some ways than a lot of the restaurants that I've run but I have to be firm. But I also end up with that motherly aspect to it as well because you end up getting close to some of them.”
Watch the delicious drama unfold when Vanderpump Rules debuts tonight at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. Central on Bravo.
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