We sat down for a Q&A with Damian AhChing in honor of Pride Month. Damian is the Director of Media & Events for Local Restaurant Group- a hospitality umbrella over 6 restaurants; Local Republic, Strange Taco Bar, LR Burger, and High Voltage Wings. The restaurant group has expanded from a single location in Lawrenceville to now include concepts in Duluth, and Monroe.

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Q: How did you get started in your role?

A: "Combining my two passions, restaurants and photography, led me to events. I've worked in the hospitality industry for 20 years--I've been a commercial photographer for 15. Through restaurants, I've learned a lot about creating experiences, providing exceptional service, and building a bond with each guest. With photography, I've been privileged by unlimited access to endless styles of events. I've seen the ins and outs of weddings, trade shows, parties, award ceremonies, concerts, red carpets... you name it. It made sense for me to move into an industry where customer service combined with event knowledge was the key to success."


Q: What struggles have you faced?

A: "Obviously, the Pandemic was a major struggle but that's true for everyone. I think my biggest struggle has been learning to let people help. I've got an amazing support group of friends, family, and coworkers who are always eager to jump in and assist. It took me a long time to learn to let go and let my peeps help."


Q: What is your favorite part about your job? Hardest part?

A:"My favorite part in working with Local Restaurant Group is the "Media" portion of my role. I get to be a photographer, be creative, and grow my talent. Today everyone has a camera in their back pocket, and it's very difficult to find your place professionally in the photo industry--I've found my place with LRGRP. I use Laundry as a photo studio for personal projects. I'm honored to share my food, beverage, lifestyle, and architecture photography with a very large platform via the restaurants' social media pages and websites. I've also made many connections with publications, magazines, newspapers, etc. The hardest part of my job is clocking out. It's very difficult to not feel guilty about creating boundaries, but they're so important for a healthy personal/professional balance."


Q: What goals do you have for your current role or any future projects?

A: "Be a good person. This has and always will be my most important goal. It's as simple as that."


Q: What advice do you have for other business owners and marketers in Gwinnett who are looking to be more inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community?

A: "I spent a lot of time searching for my truth, and I found it when I realized I wasn't being honest. My advice for business owners and marketers looking to be more inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community is to be honest and sincere. Don't use Pride month as an opportunity to pretend you care about the community for the sake of marketing--actually care." 

Explore Gwinnett continues to make an effort to promote local minority-owned, LGBTQ, and women-owned businesses. To support this initiative, we are writing blogs focusing on owners and telling their stories. Click here to read more Local Love stories.