Growth on the menu: Agave & Rye owner plans 100 restaurants

August 25, 2023

CINCINNATI (Cincinnati Business Courier) - Yavonne Sarber exited Columbus in January 2018 in a U-Haul truck full of restaurant furniture with only $1,200 in the bank. She left behind two restaurants – one she sold, owing $5,000 at closing; the other she shuttered – and headed toward Covington with plans to start over.

Sarber ultimately sold or closed five bars and restaurants during her time in Columbus. A restaurant business coach, having witnessed the unruliness at her upscale New American spot DeNovo over a three-day visit – Sarber readily admits that back then she didn’t know what she was doing, from how and who to hire to budgeting – told her shut it down and start from scratch.

Sarber had originally visited Cincinnati to open a second DeNovo, but fell in love with the architecture and charm of Covington.

As she drove south on Interstate 71, her destination was Agave & Rye, a new restaurant she created to marry French technique and the humble taco. It features unique flavor combinations like peppercorn kangaroo with mac and cheese beignets, or butter and garlic lobster with truffle shavings. In the five years since the move, Agave & Rye has grown to 15 locations and is on track to bring in $90 million in revenue this year.

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