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Friday, Jun 21, 2024

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NONPROFIT: Former Restaurateur Finds New Direction at Better Business Bureau


SAN DIEGO COUNTY – A hospitality expert with more than 25 years in the field, Samantha Scholl has worked in restaurant operations as a general manager, managing partner and business consultant, leading teams and opening restaurants, bars and casinos in her hometown of Chicago, Las Vegas and San Diego. 

But thanks to COVID and the challenges of the pandemic, Scholl in 2021 made a bold career move to work for the Better Business Bureau Serving the Pacific Southwest where she now guides others’ business journeys. 

Samantha Scholl
Associate VP
Better Business Bureau of the Pacific Southwest

Scholl, 46, is associate VP of innovation and entrepreneur programs with the local BBB, responsible with her team for designing and facilitating small business programs and initiatives to help build ethical businesses from ideation to launch and scale. 

Before the BBB, Scholl was managing partner at a fine-dining French bistro in Bankers Hill, which like many businesses in the hospitality and service industries, struggled during the pandemic. 

The bistro lost $250,000 in business in a 72-hour period in mid-March 2020, Scholl recalled, with 35 employees laid off. Adding to the challenge, a fire burned down its patio followed by a devastating flood that destroyed 75% of the bistro. 

Loyal relationships and community support helped. But despite those efforts, Scholl said she remained desperate to talk to others going through hardships with their businesses.  

A customer who worked at the BBB mentioned a 12-week program, BBB X Empower by GoDaddy Small Business Accelerator, which offers guidance and more for those in underserved communities – and where Scholl as a woman business owner and part of the LGBTQ community fit in. 

“Not only was the Empower program a game changer for me and the business, it provided me with the tools, resources and community I needed to get through the most challenging time in my professional life,” she said. “It also exposed me to the impactful initiatives that the BBB had to offer.” 

True Passion to Give Back 

Scholl said those pandemic years shed new light on her purpose and power, with her “true passion to give back to the business community.” She started Savvy Hospitality Consulting to help restaurant owners create a path for growth.  

But shortly after starting Savvy HC, the BBB reached out with an opportunity to work there, as it was expanding its innovation and entrepreneur programming and seeking her experience and expertise.  

She now oversees the program she graduated from as well as the BBB’s 6,300-SF coworking/meeting space in Kearny Mesa where small business owners and entrepreneurs connect. 

“Talk about full circle!” Scholl said. “It was serendipitous. And coming on board the BBB was the best decision I have ever made. I still work with a few select clients, but it is more of a passion project as the BBB takes the main stage. I am dedicated to working with small mom-and-pop, family-owned restaurants located in San Diego. I provide an array of offerings… marketing, websites, operations, menu design, event planning and more.” 

Scholl has also been a board member with the San Diego Equality Business Association for just over a year and said her work with the BBB aligns perfectly with her work with the SDEBA.  

“I am so proud of the work we are doing and the direction we are moving in 2024 and beyond,” she said. “The SDEBA is committed to serving our LGBTQ business community by providing the resources and community needed to thrive. We are a beacon of unity in community.”

Better Business Bureau of the Pacific Southwest
CEO: Matthew Fehling
HEADQUARTERS: Phoenix, with campuses in San Diego, Newport Beach, and more throughout the southwest.
BUSINESS: Nonprofit
REVENUE: $17 million
WEBSITE: bbb.org
CONTACT: 858-496-2131
SOCIAL IMPACT: BBB Serving the Pacific Southwest launched the BBB4Good Trustmark last year, which elevates businesses that are incorporating a higher purpose into their mission and delivering on their social and environmental impact promises.
NOTABLE: BBB Serving the Pacific Southwest celebrated its 85th anniversary in 2023, was honored as a 2023 Best Places to Work SoCal, and 2023 Best Places to Work and 2022 CEO of the Year Winner, Matthew Fehling, by the San Diego Business Journal. 


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