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Bob Bernstein, Owner Bongo Production (Bongo Java, Fido, Java East and Grins)
Bob Bernstein, Owner Bongo Production (Bongo Java, Fido, Java East and Grins)

Wed, Apr 10



Bob Bernstein, Owner Bongo Production (Bongo Java, Fido, Java East and Grins)

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Time & Location

Apr 10, 2024, 7:00 AM


About the event

Bob got into the cafe business after years of working in the hospitality industry and numerous announcements he would never make it a career. His first jobs were at fast food restaurants starting when he was 14 in suburban Chicago. Later he became a mediocre waiter, poor bartender and bored manager of a valet parking lot.

After two years of college, he took a gap year to pursue what he thought would be his career: politics, something he had been involved in since he was 10. While working on a short-lived presidential campaign and a successful Senate campaign, he met a reporter and started thinking about a new career: journalism. It combined his interest in politics and love of writing.  He then moved to California to "find himself" ultimately, graduating from the third college he attended. Despite his checkered academic path, he was accepted into the prestigious Medill School of Journalism masters program.

He moved to Nashville in 1988 to be a business/political reporter for Nashville Business Journal. The best place for coffee and dessert was O'Charleys according to his first date in Nashville.  Three years and another journalism job later, he quit his job just before turning 30 finally admitting to himself and all his previous bosses that he was a lousy employee and needed to do his own thing. 

Bongo Java, Nashville s oldest coffee house, opened in 1993. Over the next 30 years, the company grew and opened the city's first organic roasting company, first kosher and oldest restaurant, first board game cafe and a few other things.

Bob has served on several Boards and committees, mostly involving education, of which he has darn strong opinions and supports strongly. He married one of the founders of the iconic Las Paletas in 2005 and together they have two teenage sons.

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