We had the good fortune of connecting with Peter Engert and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Peter, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I have been in hospitality for over 20 years. There is no job I haven’t done in the industry or experienced which gave me the confidence to move on to the next level and open my business. I am familiar what we sell, whom we sell to and how we get that product out. I love the process. There is never a problem just another challenge that need to be solved with a positive attitude and the willingness to keep our guests and our team happy.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
FILM: I came to the country because I wanted to study film…there was only one problem, I didn’t speak english at all. I started to work at a French restaurant while I always had a small dictionary with me and forced myself to tell people what I wanted or needed. Then quickly I became a server and then manager in the course of 3 years and while I was doing so I managed to dedicate time to study film on my own. I had read 15 books about screenwriting using my dictionary, it was a long process but had no reason to rush. It was all about learning as much as I could on my own. Eventually I got enrolled at the Miami International University of Arts and Design film program where I stayed for 3 semesters. Once I left school I went to seminars in NY and LA studying about writing, directing and production. I learned how to put together a business plan for a film project, In 2004 I worked at a Spanish restaurant where I met the first person who believed in me, his name is Daniel Popa. He came to the restaurant several times and when he asked me what I want to do with my life I had my first business plan to present. We met outside of the restaurant, I showed him the close to 40 pages long business plan, he looked at the first page then pushed it aside and said “Peter, I don’t know anything about film and I wouldn’t invest in film, but I know you and I want to invest in you, what’s the budget?” I said it was 250K, he said ok your project is financed. Few months later we were shooting in Hollywood, FL and “The Valley of Tears” movie came alive. We sold it to Sony and to about 20 territories in the World. This project opened the door for me…I was no longer the guy who wanted to make films, I was the guy who actually made a film. I was involved with every single aspect of it. That project led me to Tom Conigliaro. Him and I made several films together including “Loving the Bad Man” starring Cree Kelly and Stephen Baldwin. That movie given the fact it’s a faith based film is my most watched and followed film thus far. Very inspirational and helped to heal a lot of victims of violence. Right after that I shot “Aftermath” in New Orleans, I was hired 3 days before principal photography. I worked with Scott Winig who was my Cinematographer, what a great man and a true artist. Aftermath had Andre Royo, Monica Keena, C.J.Thomason and Edward Furlong. It was a very challenging shoot but I have learned so much, it was an amazing experience. The movie made it in Theaters and got great reviews. It’s a character driven sci-fi/horror which got into the hands of Mane Entertainment who was planning to do a similar character driven project called “Penance Lane”. That movie came next which was done with amazing talents in the industry such as John Schneider, Daniel Roebuck, Scout-Taylor Compton and Tyler Mane. While I was doing these films I need to mention that I kept managing restaurants, kind of working on both career simultaneously. There were many challenges all along but I focused on the solution and tried to stay positive with one single thing in mind…this is what I wanted to do and anything that hit me just tested my talent, my passion or my inner self to overcome these obstacles. You can never stop, you just keep going until your hear the voice in your head saying “this is what I want to do”.
While I was heavily involved with the film industry I had an ongoing interest in hospitality and I was fortunate to manage a Sushi place for over 10 years and then I decided to choose a different path within the industry and I was hired to work as a manager at the Boca Raton Resort Waldorf Astoria where I was overlooking over 1000 rooms’ in room dining services. Working for a corporation and learning on this exclusive level is an eye opening in many ways. I’ve learned so much and was able to adapt many ideas when the opportunity to take over the place I managed for so many years came along. I implemented concepts and strategies that I believe elevated our services that we wanted to provide to our customers at Kinoko.
I am extremely proud and grateful that I had the opportunity to open my own restaurant which again is a collective effort with my partners and the entire team at Kinoko. If you have it in you, it is wise to wear as many hats as possible and keep pushing yourself because you never know which one will work out down the road.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would definitely take them for dinner to our restaurant Kinoko Sushi Bar and Asian Cuisine, then South Beach just for fun. Wynwood Walls for sure and the Guitar Hotel at Seminole Hard Rock. Vizcaya Museum and Garden would be another destination to Miami Design District. Little Havana and Miami Zoo just to name a few. Sightseeing Sunset Cruise would also be part of my itinerary.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Film: I was surrounded by very talented people throughout my career in film and they all inspired me with their dedication and passion to the art of filmmaking. Tom Conigliaro was one of the producers I worked the most and he always believed in me, he’s a very fine person and an outstanding partner to work with. I would also like to mention Giovanni Igneri who’s my long time writing partner. Him and I completed and sold many screenplays, He is a true artist with a lot to offer.
Restaurant: I worked with hundreds of industry individuals and every single one of them deserve to be mentioned because you always learn from them. However my girlfriend Szilvia Gucsi is the one who encouraged me when I had to make a decision whether I pursue to take over the restaurant I used to manage or not. Her and I then reached out to our partners Peter Polyak (Outstanding Fine Art Painter and Luxury Real Estate Production Director) and his wife Fanni Sarkozy (well known Jazz artist). Four of us then opened Kinoko Sushi Bar and Asian Cuisine.
Family: I certainly would like to mention my children. Their love and support inspire me every single day.
C.J. Thomason, Stephen Baldwin