AJC.com | A passion for work (and each other)

Helping young entrepreneurs who are just starting out has been part of the mission for Ken and Jeannette Katz. More than two decades ago, Ken Katz left Atlanta to work for a restaurant group in San Francisco. Jeannette Katz, a native of El Salvador, was the lead hostess at the restaurant. Weeks of training had cautioned him against dating staff, but Ken and Jeannette managed to keep their relationship under wraps until she left the company.

Years later, seated at a table in La Bodega, their latest joint venture designed as grocery store, restaurant and source for food education, the couple talked about their journey from young dreamers to business owners.

“We always want to bring produce to areas that have no access. We decided to do a transition with both food and grocery,” said Jeannette Katz, the creative force behind their restaurant holdings, which include the already established Buenos Dias Cafe in downtown Atlanta.

When La Bodega — located at the MET in the West End — is completed, there will be cooking classes for simple dishes, along with prepared foods and fresh produce in an area that has limited options. “Hopefully we will be out of business in 10 years when everyone learns how to cook for themselves,” said Jeannette. They also hope La Bodega will serve as a resource for other young business owners, offering them a place to grow their business without the risk involved in striking out on their own before they are ready.

While they have learned to separate their business and marriage, in some ways, the strategies they learned as a couple help them as co-business owners. “The business and the marriage is the same: There are ups and downs. There are good days and bad days. The whole idea is that this is your life. It is just one day or one hour of your life,” Jeannette said.

Remembering to compliment each other through the day can go a long way in running a business with your spouse, a lesson that longtime couples like the Katzes have already learned. “We are now at the point where we have been together longer than we haven’t. We have 26 years of no problems in communicating because of who we already were,” said Ken. “I don’t have a bigger fan than Jeannette.”

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By Nedra Rhone, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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