Wilton resident Andy Pforzheimer of Barteca Restaurants is the winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2016 award for New York, in the category of food and beverage services, and he\u2019ll be headed to Palm Springs for the national contest. Barteca is a holding company for 23 restaurants \u2014 12 Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurants and 11 bartacos. \u201cWe started in Norwalk, and we added one Barcelona every few years in Connecticut,\u201d Pforzheimer said. \u201cThen we added one in Atlanta, because Connecticut\u2019s very small, and we didn\u2019t want to go to New York City.\u201d \u201cWhen the one in Atlanta was successful, we opened bartaco in Port Chester, and that was successful, so we attracted the interest of a private equity group who invested in us, and with that money we opened in Boston and D.C. and Nashville and Tampa,\u201d he said. But the restaurateur has a \u201cweird\u201d feeling about being recognized for that success. \u201cBuilding something never feels like you're building something; it just feels like a very slow process, and usually it feels like you\u2019re not getting anywhere,\u201d Pforzheimer said. \u201cIt\u2019s a lot like climbing a mountain,\u201d he explained. \u201cIf you climb a mountain, you\u2019re just looking at your feet and a route, and sometimes you\u2019re going down when you\u2019re supposed to be going up, and it doesn\u2019t feel like you\u2019re getting anywhere, but every now and then you stop and you look over the edge and you go, \u2018Whoa, look at that.\u2019\u201d \u201cThis award felt like that,\u201d Pforzheimer said. \u201cIt\u2019s not I like I did anything new or different, but it is nice to every now and then have that stop-and-think moment.\u201d The funny thing is that Ernst & Young didn\u2019t give Pforzheimer a list of criteria to explain why he was awarded, but the 25-year resident and former Wilton Board of Finance member thinks it has something to do with his activities outside Barteca. \u201cI think honestly one of the main reasons is that I\u2019ve been trying to be less actively involved in the company and doing more teaching and other things,\u201d he said. \u201cI teach entrepreneurship at the Institute for Culinary Education in New York, and I\u2019m involved in putting together a faculty for a restaurant startup business school program at the Culinary Institute of America.\u201d But perhaps Pforzheimer was recognized for his business philosophy, which in a few words is, the customer\u2019s always right. \u201cWe like a sense of urgency, as opposed to talking about getting things done. If a customer isn't happy in the restaurant, you drop everything on your plate and you go over and fix it, and don\u2019t leave that table until they\u2019re happy,\u201d Pforzheimer said. \u201cKeeping that sense of urgency alive as you get bigger is hard, so it\u2019s part of my job to keep that front and center, but it\u2019s a pretty short to-do list,\u201d \u00a0Pforzheimer said. \u201cIt\u2019s know the difference between right and wrong, and if something\u2019s wrong, fix it.\u201d As Pforzheimer\u2019s business grows, he plans to transition out of the role of chief executive officer and take the chairman\u2019s seat on the board of directors, but for right now, he has the most important responsibility of them all: finding and securing profitable locations. \u201cLocation is the decision you can\u2019t change,\u201d Pforzheimer said. \u201cYou can change everything else. You can fire a chef; you can get rid of a menu item; you can change your bartop from wood to marble, but you can\u2019t change your location.\u201d This, Pforzheimer explained, is easier said than done. \u201cYou need enough density that the place will do business, so that\u2019s the large market, and then within the large market you need the cool building on the cool street corner in the part of town where your customers live, and that can take years,\u201d he said. Barteca Restaurants is looking to expand into several large markets that Pforzheimer believes could be profitable horizons. \u201cI\u2019m looking at a place in Austin; I really like Austin. We\u2019re looking at a couple places in Houston. We\u2019ve been looking in Winter Park in Florida for a while. We just signed a lease and we\u2019re starting construction in Philadelphia; that\u2019s new for us. We\u2019re looking in Denver and Boulder, so those are all new markets,\u201d Pforzheimer said. Pforzheimer received the New York award at a black tie event in the Marriott Marquis Ballroom June 22. He left The Bulletin with the following simple but unexpected advice for budding restaurateurs. \u201cPeople ask me what the most important thing they should learn when they want to open a restaurant is, and I tell them to take accounting classes, and they never want to hear that; it\u2019s funny,\u201d he said.