From the East Coast to Vegas to San Francisco, Boulder may be the most recent stop on Jill Emich’s journey, but thus far it has been the most fulfilling.
Born and raised in a large Italian family in Cresskill, a small town in New Jersey right outside of New York City, 41-year-old Emich has always dreamed of being an entrepreneur.
After obtaining her degree in hotel and restaurant management at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Emich headed to San Francisco for culinary school before finally relocating to Boulder where she would reunite with her sisters to live out their dream of being “conscious creators” in the restaurant world.
Jill Emich is the middle sister in a set of triplets who have owned and run restaurants together for 17 years. Coming from a strong line of women—both their mother and grandmother were entrepreneurs—the Emich sisters run one of the only women-owned breweries in the U.S.
In opening Shine Restaurant & Gathering Place, Emich hoped to create a setting where the community could gather to indulge in local, organic food while enjoying a multitude of events including live music, fundraisers and yoga workshops.
“I wanted a place where people could share their gifts and passions and literally shine from their heart,” Emich said.
At Shine, Emich has incorporated the sisters’ feminine roots in the naming of their house-made beers with yogi terms including Down Dog Red, Ahimsa Gluten Free Ale and the Kali Porter.
Emich and her sisters Jennifer and Jessica have owned restaurants together since they were 24 years old. Each sister runs a different part of the business, so while they are able to connect to each other on a lot of things, it helps that they still have their own creative reign over different parts of the restaurant. Being in business with your sisters sounds like it might be tricky work, but in the end Emich says it has been an amazing experience.
“There’s an unconditional love there but we also call each other out on our shit, so it’s all about authenticity and support and pushing each other to be the best we can be,” Emich said.
Wild, curly hair flowing freely behind her as she runs around the restaurant, Emich has always been the most rambunctious of the family. While both of her sisters are married, Emich is single and loves to connect with people by attending social events all over town.
Her high energy and crazy ambition have made her the brainchild and mouthpiece for the sisters’ many business ventures. Her deft ability to get the others on board for these adventures is a testament to her effervescent and welcoming personality.
When it comes to her employees, there is no shortage of admiration for Emich around the restaurant.
Shine bartender Paul Kimbiris, who has been working at the restaurant since its opening, says that Emich is definitely the most social of the sisters, which helps bring in a crowd that knows her. He believes this confidence stems from her previous endeavors with her sisters and has definitely translated into their success with Shine.
“At Trilogy (Wine Bar) she was handling the high-profile bands that would come through, you know the guys like Ray LaMontagne, so I think Jill is more used to being the face of the franchise here in Boulder,” Kimbiris said.
There is no other way to describe Emich besides “fun, happy, vivacious and outgoing,” said chef Dennis Masterson of Shine. “She’s a woman of the people.”
Even host Ross Johnson who just started working at Shine can already feel the contagious energy that radiates from Emich.
“She’s really charismatic and loving and you can tell she definitely cares about her business a lot,” Johnson said. “She’s a great boss.”
Emich says that opening and running businesses has proved incredibly challenging, but in the end, the hardest challenges are the most rewarding.
“Owning restaurants takes being good at troubleshooting and not getting stressed when things don’t go as planned,” Emich said. “It’s taught me balance…and has honestly made me a better person in every area of my life.”
Not only is owning a restaurant rewarding to Emich, but she is also invested in encouraging the people of the community to embrace what they are passionate about.
“What I love about this community is that they truly care about health and what they put in their bodies,” Emich said. “(Boulder) is an inspiring place to live…It feels powerful and every day I tap in to what an amazing place this is.”
From New Jersey to Colorado, growing up and working with her sisters in both personal and professional settings has helped shape Emich and her sisters’ lives.
“It has been more than we could have imagined,” Emich said.
Audio for this clip can be found transcribed below.
Jill: My sisters and I owned a place for 10 years called Trilogy and then we sold it and within the three years before we opened up this place, anytime we were walking around town people would be like “We miss you guys! You have to come back, you have to come back.” And it was really the community that kept asking for it and asking for us to come back. At first my sisters’ and I thought we’d never do it again and we’d go our separate ways and do all these different things, separately…but then to me it was just this over and over people telling me that we need to do it again and I’m like “I have to start listening to it” and so I started building this business plan and in the meantime we went through a lot of personal stuff. My sister went through breast cancer and my other sister had a baby and so there was just a lot of personal stuff going on that actually brought us much closer together. I didn’t think we could get closer, but we got even closer. I was like, this is all about healing, this is about community, this is about transformation and it’s something we need to do together and so that was kind of it for me.
Lauren: That’s amazing! So why did you guys close Trilogy?
Jill: We sold it to another woman. It was kind of perfect that it was another woman-owned business and the reason why we sold it was…We opened it when we were 24 and you know, doing something for almost 10 years and evolving the way we were evolving…the party place was awesome, the restaurant was built on local, organic food but the music venue was so wild and I think that after nine to 10 years, we were kind of ready for something new.
Lauren: You burn out a little bit.
Jill: We were totally burnt out. I’ve got to be honest. And we set it up differently. There, we were there all the time, we kind of signed a really bad lease because we were 24 and sometimes the only way to learn is by making mistakes. So we were pretty much working for the landlord, again no fault of his, it just worked out that way. So we were there all the time and we were open until 2 a.m. and I would be getting home at 4 a.m. every night and I was like done, you know?
Lauren: Oh my god! So, do you have one memory or event that you would consider the best since you opened Shine? Does anything in particular stand out?
Jill: I can’t say the best because it all depends on what it is. I’ve been a part of some amazing yoga classes back there or I’ve been back there when it’s been a business launch party and you see these people on stage that are doing exactly what this place is about: sharing their gifts and shining from their heart and showing their passions. Every time I go back there in the gathering place and I see that happening it just reinforces the reason why I did this. Same with the food! When I see people that eat our food and they really get it and feel the nutritional value and how it makes them feel and understand that you are what you eat, it reinforces why I do what I do here.
Lauren: That’s wonderful, thank you so much!