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The Hustle

Name: Romina & Greg Mikurak (Thirsty First)

Posted By Kendel Burke

It seems like happy hour never ends at Thirsty First, where food and drink specials are on the menu every day of the week. Husband and wife duo Greg and Romina Mikurak conceptualized a prohibition-themed bar and restaurant only two years ago, and Thirsty First has been growing ever since. Drawing from their experience in the service industry, Greg and Romina crafted a menu with original food items and cocktails to appeal to downtown’s bar scene. Humbly standing at the end of 1st Avenue North, Thirsty First poses as a dimly lit speakeasy and beckons guests to grab a bite to eat and enjoy a drink (or a few). Even though Thirsty First recalls an era from nearly a century ago, Greg and Romina work to keep their concept new and exciting, planning events for major holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and St. Pete Pride, and offering live music every Friday and Saturday nights.

Years in Tampa Bay


Hustle (job)

Business owners

What do you do?  

Run the business. Payroll, Schedule, Orders, Operation Manager Duties.

Why do you do it?

We both started in the industry at a very young age. We met in L.A. in 2012, working at the same bar. From there, we worked ourselves up in every position possible until there was nothing left but to try out our own business. That’s when we decided to come live in Florida.

What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)

We always had the vision to one day own our own business. We had menus, different concepts and ideas all ready. We just didn’t know when and how we would do it. One day, we took a shot, moved to Florida, and with a lot of hard work we finally did it. We opened our business with $250 left in our bank accounts not knowing what was next, but when you want something so bad, you will always find the way to make it happen – and succeed.

What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?

We would say there’s a few misconceptions when it comes to being a business owner. Many people and friends mostly think that we are extremely lucky to be able to make our own schedule and work the hours we want, but in reality, at least the very first year, we found ourselves working from 11 a.m. until 4 a.m. seven days a week. Another misconception is that people mostly think we take a big salary, when in reality all profits goes back into the business. To make your business grow and successful, you need to keep investing in it. Finally, another misconception is when people tell us that at least we are our own bosses and we don’t need to answer to anyone … but everyone serves someone. Instead of the boss, we must satisfy suppliers, vendors and especially customers, which is not an easy task to do.

What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?

The most challenging part of our hustle was to try to have a healthy balance between personal life, our health and running the business. Being under stress, not eating right and the lack of sleep can take a toll on you. But as new business owners, we wanted to do the best we could. Learning from that experience, we finally found a healthy balance between our lives and the business, especially our with our health. Without health, you can’t run a business.

What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?

Like the old saying “Happy wife, happy marriage,” well in this industry we like to say “Happy employees, happy business.” We learned a lot from previous jobs and working with other business owners; some were unfortunately not very honest, and took advantage of their own employees. And the only thing we both agree on is to always take care of our employees. Treat them correctly, pay them accordingly, work with them, help them grow, support them. If your employees are happy to work for you, they will take care of your business as one of their own.

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