Written By: Alan Whitt

All Q-Juan Taylor wanted was a nice pair of shoes. Who would have thought that desire would ultimately result in a partnership in one of Nashville’s trendiest new restaurants?

The restaurant is Sinema, located in the refurbished Melrose Theater building along 8th Avenue in Nashville’s Berry Hill neighborhood. The history is apparent as you step on the property … with the theater’s marquee still standing. Walk through the restaurant’s doors and feel the nostalgia.

“The staircase is the original staircase from 1942, so is the glass ceiling, the brick, the restrooms as well,” Taylor says. “I think we did a good job of maintaining the integrity of the building.

“When we first walked in obviously we knew what we wanted to do from a vision and philosophy perspective. Once we figured out we were going to actually move forward building out the space, we asked ourselves how much of the original building can we maintain, can we keep.”

The restaurant is owned and operated by Taylor, Colin and Brenda Reed, brothers Ed and Sam Reed and Austin Ray. They’ve also partnered to open The Hook – a casual seafood and chicken restaurant with another 8th Avenue address. And more eateries are on the drawing board as Nashville continues to grow as a foodie destination.

Taylor’s road to Sinema began as a busboy 22 years ago at a French restaurant in Memphis’ Overton Square at age 14. His quest for success has taken him to fine dining establishments in Beverly Hills, Washington D.C. and Las Vegas.

“Coming where I came from we had to work,” Taylor says. “I wanted extra money so that I could get the nice pair of shoes to wear to school. My mom was like, I’m not buying all this stuff for you. So I got a job and started working in restaurants.”

He realized early that restaurants were his future. He worked his way through high school, then college at the University of Tennessee, before heading to the West coast after graduation. His big break came in 2006 while working at a French hotel – Sofitel in Beverly Hills.

“That’s when I started finding my niche, finding the things that I’m good at,” he says. “It just led to more opportunities and here I am today.”

A major component to Taylor’s success is an open ear and a willingness to learn. He’s worked at some of this country’s finest restaurants … and learned from the best.

“For me, my success is built around the people I’ve been around, and listening and absorbing information as much as possible,” Taylor says. “Once you learn to surround yourself with like-minded people … the next step is what I can learn from these people. I’ve had some great mentors in my life, and a lot of good people who pushed me in those moment where I wasn’t sure whether I would ever open my own restaurant.

Taylor’s philosophy works whether you’re in the restaurant business, the music industry and just about any other profession that requires passion to succeed. You have to be around the right people … folks with a positive vibe.

“I learned from an early age that if you’re around drug dealers you’re going to end up being a drug dealer, or you’re going to end up being in jail … or end up being shot .. or in a bad situation,” Taylor says. “For me, my success is built around the people I’ve been around, and listening and absorbing information as much as possible.”