It was an opportunity of a lifetime for Donovan and Preston Walden, both prior active-duty Airmen and brothers, to be co-owners of a restaurant named Whiskey Rose Bar and Grill.
For Preston, who served at Luke Air Force Base as a firefighter engineer, it was all about being at the right place at the right time.
“I’ve always been interested in the food industry, and while I was serving on active-duty I tended bar part-time and met new people in the process,” Preston said. “When I got out of the military in 2011, I was planning to pursue a civilian fire department career and was working on getting my paramedics license while bartending at the same time.”
In August, Preston got a job as a bartender at Whiskey Rose Bar and Grill.
“This space had been closed for three years, and I actually helped open the business,” Preston said. “When it first opened, I brought in a few of my regulars to help raise sales.”
Soon one of the owners took notice of Preston’s ability to lead, his hard work ethic, perseverance and his adaptability, and offered him a chance to buy 50 percent of the restaurant.
Once the opportunity arose, Preston contacted Donovan about joining him in the venture.
“I was deployed in Southwest Asia at the time,” Donovan said. “After checking out the restaurant, I knew I wanted to work with my brother as co-owners.”
The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for Donovan, who saved up enough money to partner with his brother while he was deployed.
“Before joining the Air National Guard, I served five years on active duty as a fuels technician,” Donovan said. “Serving on active duty actually helped me in being the business owner I am today. I learned a lot from Airman Leadership School which helped me to improve my management skills. Also the Transition Assistance Program made the move from active duty to civilian smooth since it educated me on how to write a proper resume and gave me a lot of helpful information on applying for jobs and more.”
Opening up a business is possible but requires much preparation.
“The biggest tip I have for active-duty Airmen to be successful is to plan ahead,” Donovan said. “If you’re trying to start a business, save your money, at least $40,000 as a cushion, create a business plan and build good credit.”
Although now a full-time restaurant owner, Donovan still remembers where he came from.
“The one thing I will never forget are my Air Force core values, ‘integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do,’” Donovan said. “Those are the key principles I will use in the restaurant and keep with me forever.”
Being prior military, Donovan and Preston understand the importance of giving back.
“We want to give back to our military family by offering them a 15 percent discount on food and beverages,” Donovan said. “We will also be having a military Monday night during which military members can order from a special discounted military menu. Just bring your military ID, and we will take care of you.”
Whiskey Rose Bar and Grill is located at the Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale and is open 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. The restaurant serves barbecue-style ribs, brisket, pulled pork and chicken dishes.