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The Next Step in Jon Schlegel's Ambitious Life Plan

Steady Goes It

In his own words, Jon Schlegel is a big people-pleaser. It is in his nature to greet, acknowledge, and interact with others when an opportunity presents itself. If he can go the extra mile to positively impact someone’s day, it is safe to assume that he will.

Perhaps best known for his Denver-based brunch empire, Snooze An A.M. Eatery, which has over 35 locations across five states, Schlegel is also a bit of a goal setter: While some of the best-laid plans in life never come to fruition, Schlegel has five-year benchmarks charted out until he is 80.

But even being the goal-oriented businessman that he is, Schlegel’s success has always largely been a result of his life perspective.

As Schlegel tells it, he has spent his life chasing after his dreams with the conviction of a person insistent on making the most of their life opportunities because he saw firsthand what it looks like to not be able to.   

“I had two dreams in my life: To open my own restaurant by 30, and to live in Italy and study wine at 40,” says Schlegel. “Snooze opened two months after my 30th birthday, and we moved to the Barolo region when I was 39. 

“We had struggles with money and health growing up, so my appreciation for the foundation of great and supportive family gave me comfort in taking risks and feeling supported.”

On the first day of Spring in 2014, almost eight years to the day after opening the first Snooze location, Schlegel and his family packed their bags and moved to Italy. For a year-and-a-half, Schlegel learned all things pertaining to vineyard management—how to import wine into the United States, what to do when a surprise hail storm destroys around 40% of his harvest, and whether his dreams would even be worth all the trouble.

Though the year-and-a-half of time living abroad tested his resolve, it served as an essential springboard for the next phase of his life.

“This has been a path for me as long as Snooze has been my path, and I’m hoping to use this as my last professional runway in life, while still getting to play in the Snooze world.”

On the cusp of Attimo Wine opening its doors in Denver—improbably, next door to the flagship Snooze, no less—Schlegel is as enthusiastic about food, beverage, and hospitality as ever.

“It’s hilarious that I call this a job. My job is going to the best place in the world, learning from the best wine makers in the world, and trying to translate their vision with my own and bring it back. I don’t think that’s work.

“That idea of making this world a little better through food and beverage, and maybe the happiest part of someone’s day is something I helped create or implement or operate, or all the above—that’s so fulfilling.

He adds, “That’s where that energy comes from. That is purpose. That is, for me, living.”

Though he might hop between his brunch spot and his vineyard, “by benedict or by grape juice,” Schlegel’s work will always revolve around doing whatever he can to brighten a customer’s day. 

“I don’t think it’s all work, obviously, until I’m 80, but this dream I’ve hard for so long. And it’s not a job, it’s a purpose. I love making people feel good. I know that I am a people-pleaser in life, and when others feel great, I know that I feel great. I feed off of that.”