The Life and Career of Lawyer Turned International-Restaurant Owner David Nachman

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The Life and Career of Lawyer Turned International-Restaurant Owner David Nachman
David Nachman (far left) with his restaurant and lounge staff
Coming from a background in business that he began building during his college years, Nachman has thriven in law for more than 15 years and has successfully started two companies-a restaurant and a bar—along the way. Now, as he prepares to launch his third venture, a food tour in France, Nachman looks forward to discovering what opportunities his business career will bring to his national law practice.

After completing his undergraduate degree at Georgetown University, having always been intrigued by law as well as business, Nachman attended Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, earning his J.D. and his master's in business. "I always tied business to what I was doing in law. Law, when it really boils down, is a business," he said.

While he was in school, Nachman helped start a t-shirt business, which ultimately helped him pay his way through school. One evening, at the campus pub, Nachman and one of his classmates came up with the idea to design "law suits"—or, rather, track suits for lawyers to wear called law suits. The team marketed the law suits to different law schools, including Case Western Reserve, the University of Chicago, and New York University. They later designed "legal briefs"—underwear for lawyers. Their legal briefs actually made it into department stores for a time, as well.

The Life and Career of Lawyer Turned International-Restaurant Owner David Nachman
David Nachman's hip French-Japanese restaurant Bistro EN in Teaneck, NJ
Toward the end of his schooling, Nachman was a resident director for the university and began working for the dean while continuing to run his business. After finishing his master's in business, Nachman went on to work as an associate at a large firm in Cleveland, and he hated it. After moving on to another firm specializing in securities law, Nachman still felt unsettled.

"Being at a large firm is an environment that you really have to be used to. If you have a lot of diverse interests, it's a very hard place to be. There's not a whole lot of thinking out of the box," he said.

While at his first two firms, Nachman had begun encouraging the partners to open branches in business immigration law, a newfound interest and passion of his. Unfortunately, he was never able to convince them.

The Life and Career of Lawyer Turned International-Restaurant Owner David Nachman
David Nachman's sushi bar/art gallery/bar Lounge ZEN in Teaneck, NJ
In 1993, Nachman was finally able to achieve his goal by opening his own firm specializing in business immigration law in New Jersey. Nachman built his private practice from the ground up until 1999, when he merged with large labor and employment firm Grotta, Glassman & Hoffman; however, their combined firm was short-lived because it eventually merged with another firm, Fox Rothschild.

When Nachman first merged his firm with Grotta, Glassman & Hoffman, he met another immigration attorney, David Sindell, who had offices in Tokyo, New York, and California. The two had a lot in common professionally and became friends. In 2001, Nachman resigned from Grotta, Glassman & Hoffman to work as a sole practitioner. Shortly after, he received a call from Sindell, who said that there was a restaurant he thought the two of them should buy in New Jersey.

The Life and Career of Lawyer Turned International-Restaurant Owner David Nachman
David Nachman's chateau in Southern France, where he plans to start a French-Japanese food tour next year
With his love for business intact and no clients on his roster, Nachman found this to be the perfect time to explore opening a restaurant. In 2004, after approximately one year of business, the team decided to revamp the Japanese restaurant they owned in New Jersey by importing a French-trained team of Japanese cooks that had worked for Sindell at a chateau in Southern France, which he was in the process of selling. They revitalized the restaurant, making it a hip Japanese-French fusion restaurant called Bistro EN. Six months later, Nachman and Sindell opened a sushi bar/art gallery/bar next door called Lounge ZEN.

Q. What do you do for fun?
A. I have three sons, and my oldest one is really into paintball, so I've been getting into that with him. My other sons are into football and basketball, so those are my hobbies.
Q. What CD is in your CD player right now?
A. James Taylor.
Q. What's the last magazine you read?
A. The United States Postal Service's Impact. I was reading it because I thought that it might be an interesting marketing idea.
Q. What is your favorite TV show?
A. Cheers.
Q. Who is your role model?
A. My father, for sure.

Currently, Nachman is in the process of beginning a French-Japanese food tour based at a chateau on a two-acre piece of property in Southern France in the Pyrenees. This venture will allow groups to enjoy week-long stays at the chateau with one of the team's chefs guiding shopping tours in the nearby marketplace to gather traditional ingredients for extravagant French meals to be prepared and served at the house. Last July, Nachman and Sindell began renovating the six-bedroom house, and the food tours should start up in approximately six months.

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