5 questions with businessman, former UofL star Junior Bridgeman

Published: Mar. 24, 2016 at 8:03 PM EDT|Updated: May. 8, 2016 at 9:41 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - With the NCAA Tournament in town at the KFC Yum! Center, many basketball fans will likely spend some time at Fourth Street Live!

There's a new Italian restaurant at the entertainment complex called Birracibo that's partly owned by one of UofL's biggest former basketball stars – Ulysses "Junior" Bridgeman.

Bridgeman played for the Cards from 1972-1975, then went on to play 12 years in the NBA, mostly with the Milwaukee Bucks. Lucky for Louisville, he returned here and invested in franchises such as Wendy's, and does wonderful things for the community.

Bridgeman has been extremely successful and knows a lot about food. "Birra" in Italian means beer and "cibo" means meal. The restaurant serves artisanal pizzas, wine and craft beer.

Here are my five questions with Junior Bridgeman:

1) You have been involved in a variety of restaurant concepts. What attracted you to Birracibo?
In conversations with Blake Cordish, we wanted to do something different from other restaurants, and we looked at a variety of different themes. When we put together the layout for an Italian restaurant, and something that wasn't at Fourth Street Live! or their other properties that came up with the ideas, that eventually ended up as Birracibo.

2) You own more than 400 Wendy's and 125 Chili's restaurants, as well as other retail franchises. Who do you rely on for help along the way? 
Being in this industry for 30 years, you get to know a lot of really smart restaurant people, so everybody is pretty good at sharing ideas, thoughts and advice.

3) Is there a quote you live by?
There are a number of things I rely on but "as you travel along in life, if you don't help someone along the way, then you're living is in vain."

4) With all of your business you have no doubt conducted many interviews along the way. What do you look for before hiring an employee?
We hire for attitude because we can teach and help with the aptitude, but if a person is not enthusiastic or excited, or if they don't believe the enthusiasm,
it's not going to be something that manifests once they get the job.

5) Did you take a trip to Italy before opening Birracibo?
No, however I have been to Italy but we did not go specifically for the restaurant. The chefs we rely on had a pretty good idea of the directions they wanted
to go in from an Italian food standpoint.

For more about Birracibo, which just opened this month, click here.

Previous installments
+ March 18: Author Emily Bingham
March 11: PurseKeyper co-rounder Dana Robinson
March 4: Chef, restaurateur John Varanese
Feb. 26: Wicked Sheets Founder Alli Truttmann
Feb. 19: Lilly's Chef Kathy Cary
Feb. 12: Speed Museum Director Ghislain d'Humieres
Feb. 5: Miss Kentucky USA Kyle Hornback

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