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Page 151 of 205

Fifteen years prior, Guillermo Zapata, opened SUR's doors all by himself. "I was 22 at the time when I decided to move to Los Angeles. I was acting in TV shows in Buenos Aires and I had gotten a visa as a tourist for a two week vacation. But when the two weeks was up, I didn't want to leave. I had no green card. No money. But I completely fell in love with L.A." It was at that point that he called his family and friends and told them he wasn't returning home. Eight years passed until he was able to see them again. "I put my ambition for acting aside and got my first job as a dishwasher at Café Luna on Melrose. That's when I started to learn all about the restaurant business. And in 1998, I had the opportunity to open SUR." Guillermo opened SUR with a dream. In 1998, he started out with 10 tables –today, it's a whopping 10,000 square foot space. And then, another amazing thing happened. He met his beautiful wife Nathalie, who happened to be visiting from France. "We met and fell in love immediately. I believe God put her in my way. She gave me such confidence and support and all of a sudden our two brains, two hearts, two everything just connected." Guillermo credits Nathalie for much of SUR's long-lasting success, adding that she still actively manages all of the accounting and HR responsibilities. The pair were working as a well-oiled machine when they met Ken Todd and Lisa Vanderpump. Not long after, the four were celebrating co-ownership of the restaurant. "Ken and Lisa came from England with a lot of knowledge. We did a lot of research on them and they had plenty of experience owning their own bars and restaurants. When the four of us met, the chemistry was very powerful – 13 years ago. And then we all came up with the idea of Vanderpump Rules together." By this point, Lisa had risen to fame by starring in The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, so she brought the idea of the television series to Bravo. Guillermo believed that she would be perfect as the image of the show. And he's happy to continue his support from the sidelines. For those familiar with Vanderpump Rules, they know that the show's main characters – Stassi, Jax, Kristen...—continue to hook viewers by airing their dirty laundry and all their drama on and off-duty from SUR. "My biggest concern, from the beginning, was about the drama associated with the employees, but Bravo did a great job. This is real life. In all restaurants or in any kind of job you have, you're going to experience ups and downs. When I'm there, there is a different image. My concern is that everyone is still keeping up with their jobs even though there are cameras around." Because of the show's success, many of SUR's servers and bartender's careers have taken off, but the bonds between them and Zapata remain stronger than ever. Those well-known faces "still visit and make appearances all the time. They are like family and they really are such good people," says Guillermo. As SUR continues to grow each and every day, Guillermo and Nathalie are busy raising their children and operating behind-the-scenes of SUR to ensure that things continue to run smoothly — just as they have done since day one. The ideals of hard work, family, and determination have resulted in continued success for their business. To Guillermo, success is attained by helping yourself. "You have to be positive, especially people that come from other countries. You have to help yourself achieve your goals. There are no excuses – you live in America. There are endless opportunities just waiting for you if you work hard." This year, achieving more goals is exactly what he plans to do. Returning to his acting and producing roots, he is currently producing, creating new projects, and working on getting into acting more. "I want to be able show people that all of this that I've been working on, I will make a reality. You will be seeing many more characters of Guillermo Zapata to come." ML For more information on SUR, visit

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