Benny Doro‘s success in the music industry and as a venture capitalist has taken him around the globe. Whether a six-month stay in the Philippines launching internet banking or touring Japan with his rock and roll band, at the heart of each trip was the food, the people and the culture. “You just couldn’t help but see that it was all one!,” says Benny.
Raised in Vancouver, Benny spent a lot of time at his Dad’s nightclub in Chinatown, Frank’s Cabaret. By the time he was eight, Benny was playing drums at the club and by 14 his guitar playing put him on the map. It was here, at Frank’s Cabaret on East Hastings, that his young palate was treated to a blend of traditional Italian cuisine from his Dad’s venue and the delicious Chinese food they enjoyed from neighbouring restaurants after the club closed at 3am.
“I remember being in Chinatown late at night with my Dad and the mass of neon signs hit me right away! And, there was a buzz on the street, lots of people, lots of talking – English, Chinese, other languages – this was the place to be in 1974.”
As a musician/singer with his rock and roll band, Benny traveled “everywhere on the planet that had electricity,” giving more than 2000 performances between 1994 -2001. Preferring to see the world through the eyes of the locals as opposed to a tourist, he sought out restaurants with no English on the menu and street food carts.
Benny has been a pioneer in the technology world since 1995 when he formed NextLevel Productions Inc., a multi-media advertising and marketing company. As CEO, he managed multiple clients including negotiating content deals with A-list artists such as KISS, Van Halen, Madonna, U2 and Britney Spears.
In 2002, Benny became a partner in Marketview Financial Groups Inc., a private investment firm based on Wall Street. He helps new businesses get established with seed money, and once operational and generating revenue, takes them public on NASDAQ. To date, more than 20 companies have traded on the stock exchange, from stem cell research to record companies.
Benny’s business travel around the world, allows him to experience diverse food and culture along the way. It was after an extended stay in Makati, Philippines, that he became keenly aware of people’s excuses about their food habits. Comments such as “it’s too expensive to cook” or “it will take too long to make” inspired him to create a website complete with recipes, step-by-step photos and videos to show people that good food was within their reach and budget. His award-winning website, Chef Benny Doro, is followed by more than 200,000 subscribers who treasure his recipes and insight on food culture.
Serving as a Board of Director for Most Valuable Kids in New York, Benny has helped inner city kids experience sporting and cultural events as rewards for good behaviour. “We’ve put about 80,000 kids in seats the last couple of years, everything from watching the New York Islanders to the Philharmonic. It is good for the kids and helps them become positive members of the community.”
On the restaurant scene, Benny has been instrumental in assisting New York-based eateries with their business plans, has opened food trucks and owns a restaurant in Burnaby, BC.
The spark for the Seventeen88 project came about when Cherry Yuet approached Benny about a vacant building her family owned in Chinatown, and asked if he had any ideas. Having returned to Vancouver to see the crumbling of a once bustling and vibrant community, Benny was quick to suggest: “There needs to be an injection of a neighbourhood spot back into Chinatown, a place where the older set can come and have tea and good food, and a place where all ages can enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner, take out and nightlife.”
Benny immediately saw an opportunity to contribute to the revitalization of Chinatown by offering a unique establishment, one that serves the community culturally and socially by honouring traditional Chinese culture and food while integrating modern trends.
As an international businessman and performer, a citizen of the world, Benny looks forward to bringing fresh energy, exceptional food and a memorable dining experience to Vancouver’s Chinatown, making Mahjong Social a world-class destination for both locals and visitors.