How to Date Your Business Partner Without Killing Each Other
The co-owners of DC's Timber Pizza have been there, are doing that
When Timber Pizza co-owner Andrew Dana arrived at the farmer’s market that fated morning, there’s no way he could’ve known he was about to meet his future wife. In a scene straight out of Hugh Grant’s filmography, he and Daniela Moreira connected at the egg stand. “That’s what I want my wife to look like,” he told his then-business partner upon returning with only half the dozen to show for.
Moreira had just completed her courses at a prestigious culinary school and needed a job to tide her over until Shaw Bijou opened. Drawn in by the world of wood-fired crusts and, well, Dana, Moreira passed on the job with Bijou to join Timber full-time. There was a twist though, as Moreira was engaged to be married.
What followed was an ill-timed confession of love, a marriage that lasted six months and the two becoming platonic friends and roommates. It took attending a 2018 wedding in Big Sur and one too many drinks for Dana to realize he was being foolish, and now the couple are happily engaged. Today, they work together on two businesses that have both hit Bon Appétit‘s Top 50 list of best new restaurants: a self-described “Jew-ish” deli by the name of Call Your Mother and Timber Pizza, which we recently anointed one of the top DC pizza spots for date night.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we sat down to ask Dana for some tips on now to have a successful working relationship, literally.
InsideHook: So, you guys met at a farmer’s market at the egg stand, right? Who struck up conversation first and did any initial sparks fly that day?
Andrew Dana: Yup! We just bumped into each other at the stand and both ordered eggs. It was the last carton, so we had to negotiate who got the eggs. We decided to split the carton.
Tell me a bit about what happened after that initial meeting.
Dani asked if we needed any part time help at Timber Pizza and we said yes. She came to our first gig and crushed it, while looking very cute. Her kitchen skills were unmatched; I started to recruit her to be full time immediately.
How did it feel developing those feelings for one another while working as colleagues?
It was certainly exciting … until I learned Dani was married. Then it was frustrating. But it all worked out eventually. Good things come to those who wait.
Eventually timing (and mutual feelings) lined up for you two, which is amazing. How did it change your business relationship, and how has it evolved since?
I think it made the business relationship better. Now there is no more hidden tension or a giant elephant in the room (or kitchen). We fight about business decisions way less now.
Do you have any advice for romantic partners who also work together (or are thinking of going into business together)? How do you separate work from your relationship once you get home at the end of the day?
Do not measure or compare decisions or wins, just remember that you are on the same team and are trying to accomplish the same things. Sometimes it is easy to measure against each other and that can lead to some tension. We are not good at turning the work talk off. It is sort of all encompassing, but that is why I think our restaurants have gone pretty well. We also love what we do, so it is all good!
What about the opposite, for colleagues who develop feelings for one another. Is there ever a time to not pursue the relationship in your opinion?
I think you need to be really, really, REALLY sure. If it is just a “maybe” then do not do it. You have to truly believe it is a forever thing, because if it does not work out, it will leave the business in a prickly situation.
What do you think are the unique advantages of working with your romantic partner?
That you totally get each other, and know how to talk to each other. There is no tip-toeing around each other. We cut through the unimportant stuff and get straight to the heart of our issues. We also have similar interests, so it is easy and fun to decide on new projects and food items because we love the same stuff.
Any other tips for a healthy and lasting relationship?
Make sure you find time to do fun stuff together that has nothing to do with work. We love going to the gym and taking yoga classes together. We just traveled to Thailand together for 10 days and only talked about work like two times. We also both love what we do and love our businesses. Working together does not feel like work, it feels fun, so we do not need separation from work and love life. It is all good!