Matt Baumgartner

October 16, 2009 at 12:29 am (Uncategorized)

It’s safe to say that Bombers Burrito Bar owner Matt Baumgartner, 35, is unconventional at best. The success of his Times Union blog, and both of his most well known capital region restaurants (Bombers and Wolffs Biergarten) have been achieved almost entirely by chance. His success story is a rare one, attributed almost entirely to lady luck and some great business instincts.

Baumgartner's speaking engagement at UAlbany's AJRL 390 class

Baumgartner spent his college years at Union College as an economics major, which he does not cite as his reason for his business success.  Instead, Baumgartner speaks about his unconventional business methods, making his success seem effortless.

For instance, back in 1997 Baumgartner’s luck won him $20,000 at Verona, New York’s Turning Stone Casino. Baumgartner had a royal flush in the casino’s “let it ride” poker game allowing him to rake in $15,000 after taxes.

His job working for GE at that same time was unfulfilling. “It didn’t feel like that was what my life was suppose to be about” Baumgartner says “I was completely miserable.” So through inspiration from his favorite restaurant in Boston, Massachusetts, Big Burrito, he decided to take his gambling winnings, and the money he had saved up (approximately $10,000) and open Bombers Burrito Bar in Albany, New York.

Baumgartner

Bombers can be seen as the place where Baumgartner got his first start at blogging with the “Burrito Blog”. The “Burrito blog” featured things about the restaurant, customers, and staff. It is the true blog with which Baumgartner got his feet wet, and began to “feed the monster” as he often refers to blogging as. The blog has been taken over now by Baumgartner’s friend Pete Corcoran, a photographer by trade.

From the “Burrito Blog” and his overall presence in the community, the Times Union approached Baumgartner to write an unpaid blog. Again, chance was involved, as Baumgartner was not recruited due to his stellar writing skills. “If you read something I wrote, the grammar is horrible.” Baumgartner says. However, Baumgartner has a particular voice and personality, which accompany his blog and make it unmistakably his.

Baumgartner’s Times Union blog pushed the limits and broached topics, which, for someone who is a business owner, was taking a big chance. Baumgartner’s says his reasoning for his risky topics is that: “If I had a pretentious, high-end restaurant, I probably wouldn’t touch those subjects.” Judging by some of his topics, his restaurants are guaranteed to not be pretentious.

Baumgartner’s critics were not always in favor of the topics he chose to blog about, but in the end his risky behavior worked out for him and his business. Since being linked with the Times Union his businesses have gained recognition from his successful blog. “There were a lot of people who didn’t know who I was,” Baumgartner says.

However, being linked so heavily to a blog is a risky move as well. It’s effects being something Baumgartner was not initially aware of. “I think the blog has made me considerably less outgoing” Baumgartner says, “I don’t really love the attention.”

Even with all his success with the Times Union blog, Baumgartner and the newspaper have parted ways. “Friday Puppy” is the new self-directed blog, which Baumgartner has just launched.  The name “Friday Puppy” came to him by chance, through his feature on his Times Union blog of puppies every Friday as a way to avoid doing major blogging work Thursday night.

His new blog brings exciting possibilities. With no restrictions from anyone, like the Times Union, he can branch out and truly push the limits of his readers. “I couldn’t put pictures of people I was angry at on the blog [at the Times Union]” Baumgartner jokingly says, “I feel relieved that it’s my own site because I can go by my own rules.”

So far Baumgartner has done a good job making his voice and opinion prominent on “Friday Puppy.” He continues to push the envelope and take chances with the topics he chooses to discuss, but it’s like he said: “who’s gonna tell me I can’t?”

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