Talking Shop: Two North Fork business veterans discuss the keys to success in new podcast

Back in late 2018, Cody Homan was eating a lot of his meals at Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck, and, over time, got to know its owner, Carolyn Iannone. 

“I noticed they always had fish on their menu,” said Mr. Homan, manager of Braun’s Seafood Co. in Cutchogue, a longtime family-owned business. “I decided to offer wholesale fish to Carolyn and our friendship grew from there.”  

Last year, Mr. Homan and Ms. Iannone launched their “For the Love of Business” podcast focused on the ins and outs of running a business on the North Fork. 

Braun’s opened in 1928 and is one of Long Island’s largest fish distributors. The Homan family has owned the business since 1961, and Mr. Homan is set to take over when his father, Ken, retires. 

Wanting to pursue a career in food and travel journalism, Ms. Iannone took a managerial position at Love Lane Kitchen in 2009 to learn more about the industry. When the opportunity arose for her to take ownership, she purchased the restaurant and has run it  ever since.

The idea for a business podcast was in both their minds for years, but they didn’t know where to start. Last summer, they decided to collaborate on developing “For the Love of Business,” which explores the ins and outs of doing businesses on the North Fork.  

Times Review recently sat down with the podcasting pair to discuss their decision to start the new project, how life has changed on the North Fork and the post-pandemic recovery.

Times Review: The North Fork’s popularity has exploded in the past several years, shifting from a hidden gem of Long Island to welcoming nearly as many out-of-towners as the South Fork. How are you capitalizing on local trends to build success for your businesses?

Iannone: The North Fork is a safe haven for a lot of folks. There can be a little bit of contention around the influx of full-time residents since COVID. With so many people, the things we love about the North Fork can be threatened, but the new people I’ve met are really nice and it’s obvious they’re invested in the area.

Homan: I’ve been using our social media to our advantage to attract tourists and new residents. I want to tell our story as authentically as possible. We use our Instagram to educate people on wholesale and the fish market. Authenticity will outlast all your competition. And that’s what I’ve tried to instill in Braun’s. We try to not worry what everyone else is doing, we run our own race.

TR: Although COVID-19 is still around, we’ve hopefully got through the worst of it. Have either of you experienced any sort of post-pandemic clarity?

Homan: We were both severely affected by the shutdown, Carolyn as a restaurant owner and I sold to restaurants. For Braun’s, we focused on the retail side of the business, specifically the fish market. Coming out of COVID, we realized that we had a good, solid team. People having the option to work remotely also worked in our favor because so many made the North Fork their permanent home during this time. The North Fork is here to stay.

Iannone: There was a lot of clarity once the chaos and the dust settled. There was a moment where I really thought this was it, I didn’t know if we were going to be able to come back. But thankfully my team was there to lean on. I realized I could cut myself a bit of slack. We learned to stagger things better, it’s not as delicate as I once thought it was. The pandemic made me realize my restaurant isn’t a house of cards. There’s always a silver lining.

TR: The two of you decided to take on the role of podcasters this past year. You also decided to challenge yourselves a bit, announcing “For the Love of Business” in the middle of your busiest weekend. What led the two of you to decide to start a North Fork business podcast?

Homan: I had kicked around the idea for a podcast for quite some time. I bought the equipment but never really had the time to start. At one point, I casually mentioned it to Carolyn and her eyes lit up.

Iannone: Once we really started chatting about it, the more excited we got. I suggested we do one together, to keep each other motivated and held accountable.

Homan: No one else was really doing a podcast about North Fork businesses at the time. I wanted to be one of the first. We really wanted to highlight the businesses and the people that make the North Fork special, and Carolyn had a similar idea too.

Iannone: It was very difficult to start in the summer. Not only because we were so busy, but so were all of the people we wanted to interview. It got pushed off until October. However, we were reaching out to people and scheduling the interviews weeks ahead. There’s so much that goes into a small business and there’s so many differences in what people do and at the same time, there’s so many similarities. That’s what inspired the podcast. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, we all have these shared experiences on the North Fork.

TR: What has been the best thing about starting this podcast?

Iannone: Every discussion we have in our podcast is around owning and operating an independent business — the struggles and the successes of the people that make up the North Fork. We are fascinated to hear their stories. We have found a lot of camaraderie as well. So many times Cody and I have been reminded as business owners that we’re not alone, we can do this. That’s been the underlying theme of the episodes we’ve put out so far. Highlighting their stories has been one of my favorite things.

TR: Could you take me through the creation of an episode?

Iannone: When we first got together last summer to start brainstorming about the podcast, Cody and I found that we had a lot of overlapping people on our lists of potential interviewees. That made things a lot easier. When we decide on a guest, we have a general list of questions that we send them prior to taping that gets their creative juices flowing, like “what has been the most challenging thing about owning your business, what has been the most rewarding, what are you most proud of?” We try to make it not too scripted or rigid. When we film we chat, keeping the conversation around business. Depending on who it is and how well we know them, we’ll have something really specific about their strengths that we want to discuss. For example, I have the greatest conversations with Lucy from Sang Lee Farms about pricing and strategizing value and making sure our customers are spending their hard earned money wisely. It made for a great and interesting conversation because I already knew that about her.

Homan: And then after we record, Carolyn will edit the episode. She taught herself completely how to edit the podcast through Youtube tutorials, which is pretty amazing.

TR: What do the two of you have planned for this year?

Homan: We’ve decided that we aren’t going to drive ourselves crazy trying to record and edit during the summer when we’re both busy. We are planning to have seasons for the podcast, giving ourselves a break when our businesses pick up.

Iannone: And I think this brings us back to what I mentioned before about the silver lining of the pandemic. Because this is something that we are just doing for fun, we don’t want to hold ourselves to crazy high standards. We’ve been making it up as we go and we aren’t afraid to cut each other some slack. The whole point is to have honest conversation with the amazing people behind the businesses here. We want to be a way for these people to share their stories and celebrate all their hard work.

For the Love of Business can be found on Spotify. New episodes are released on two Fridays each month.