As Dave Magrogan has learned, spending the first eight years of his professional career as a chiropractor proved to be excellent preparation for his move into the restaurant business.
Magrogan, 45, owner of Harvest Seasonal Grill and Wine Bar in Delray Beach, developed a passion for a healthy lifestyle that he’s transitioned into a “farm to table” approach to serving meals to a like-minded clientele.
“I work out every day; I don’t use drugs and medications and surgeries and things, so I’ve always kept my chiropractic philosophy of natural health and living alive,” he said. “Harvest is sort of coming full circle: It allows me to express myself in the restaurant business with my health and physical beliefs I’ve gained through chiropractic.
“People think it’s funny that you spend 71/2 years going to school to become a chiropractor, and now I own restaurants, but all of that chiropractic foundation certainly helped create the foundation for Harvest, and the healthy lifestyle that Harvest is wrapped around.”
Magrogan, who said he has opened “22 or 23” restaurants in all and still runs six in the Northeast, came to Delray just two years ago but has quickly come to love the lifestyle.
“It’s radically different from the Northeast,” he said. “At 8 in the morning I can be on my boat in the Intracoastal, and by 11 o’clock I can be at my restaurant getting ready for lunch. I enjoy it a lot; it’s a good place to grow a business, and the business environment is pretty positive.”
People often misjudge him, he said.
“When you are the CEO of a company with 600-plus employees, people often can think you are tough, cold or calculating,” he said. “To the contrary, I am a very fun-loving, loyal and caring person. I love to see people become successful in our company or on their own outside of our company. I believe firmly that helping others always comes back in a positive way and I look for opportunities to help others around me grow.”
One of his favorite charities, one with which he has worked closely, is the Palm Beach County Food Bank and its Empty Bowls event.
“I believe that every person should have access to an adequate meal, “ he said.
Magrogan says his fiancée, Melissa, and his children never fail to put a smile on his face.
“Melissa and I love to travel, visit restaurants and go to concerts together,” he said. “We always have fun wherever we find ourselves. My kids are my inspiration. Watching them grow and evolve into caring and intelligent adults is the greatest feeling in the world.”
— Brian Biggane
Q: Where did you grow up and go to school? How do you think that has influenced you?
A: I grew up in Brookhaven, Pa., with a single mother who moved around a lot. My mom worked long hours to make ends meet and always told us we too had to work hard to get somewhere in the world. I graduated from West Chester University in Pennsylvania with a pre-med degree, and received my doctorate in chiropractic from Life University in Atlanta.
Q: What professions have you worked in? What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
A: I did work in restaurants early on in my career, while I was in high school and college. However, once I completed my chiropractic education, I built two of the largest and most successful family practices in Pennsylvania, treating over 800 patients a week. During this time, I explored its connection with holistic nutrition and eventually left to pursue my passion for the restaurant industry.
During this time I developed about six different restaurant concepts, got involved with real estate development, wrote my book Do It Rhino Style and started public speaking on business and goal-setting internationally. I am most proud of my “rhino-style” approach to business that eschews complaining in favor of optimism and facing problems head-on. Today I am laser-focused on the success and quality of our Harvest brand. The Harvest concept is the professional accomplishment I am most proud of.
Q: What advice do you have for a young person seeking a career today?
A: I began my professional career as a chiropractor and when it got to a point where I started watching the clock and feeling trapped in an office, I didn’t have the passion for it anymore. Follow your dreams, no matter how out of reach they seem. Passion will create persistence, which will help you persevere during the difficult times in growing your career.
Q: How did you choose to make your home in Delray Beach?
A: The Delray Beach community has been so welcoming and inviting to both Harvest and Local Greens that it only made sense. Plus, it’s absolutely beautiful! There is a palpable energy in Delray, a positive vibe that inspires creativity and growth.
Q: What is your favorite part about living in Delray Beach?
A: I wake up every morning and walk on the beach; it’s truly an amazing place. The energy in South Florida and in Delray is contagious. The amount of time you can spend outdoors running, walking or boating makes it a fantastic lifestyle.
Q: What book are you reading now?
A: The Start-Up J Curve, by Howard Love. It is an excellent book for the entrepreneur or business owner.
Q: What music do you listen to when you need inspiration? When you want to relax?
A: I have always been a huge fan of the Grateful Dead. The new Dead and Company tour with John Mayer in the band has been fantastic.
Q: Do you have a favorite quote that inspires your decisions?
A: One of my favorites: “Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them. They make the impossible happen.” — Dr. Robert Jarvik
Q: Have you had mentors in your life? Individuals who have inspired your life decisions?
A: My mother taught me the value of a dollar and helped shape me into the motivated person I am today. I also have a very dear friend in Philadelphia, Bernie Spain, who built several successful businesses during his career. He has been a trusted adviser and mentor during the past 15 years.
Q: If your life story were made into a movie, who would play you?
A: I’m not sure of the exact answer, but the movie The Founder, about Ray Kroc, starring Michael Keaton, reminds me a lot of the difficulties one faces as an entrepreneur in any business. I tell every entrepreneur they need to watch that movie.