Brian Fox 95: From Ads to Autonomy

By Gary Frank

The higher Brian Fox climbed the ladder of corporate success, the less satisfied he was with his career and the more he desired to do something on his own.

“I got tired of all the meetings and red tape,” says Fox, a marketing major who formerly worked for Nextel in San Francisco. When Nextel and Sprint started discussing a merger, Fox saw an opportunity to make a change.

He secured a severance package, wrote a business plan, and moved to Annapolis, Maryland, because he and his wife, Kate (Robson) Fox ’95, had friends and relatives in the Washington, D.C., area. He approached his wife’s brother-in-law, Brendan Keegan, who had been a chef in several upscale restaurants in the Northeast, about going into business together.

To get his feet wet in the restaurant business Fox worked in a local restaurant for a year. Eventually, he became the director of operations at a local seafood restaurant for a few years, all the while looking for an opportunity to open a place with Keegan. That opportunity came in 2005 when Fox and Keegan opened 208 Talbot in St. Michaels, Maryland. Things have gone well enough that the two are opening a second restaurant in Easton, Maryland, in 2010. Eventually, the two would like to operate three or four restaurants.

Managing the restaurant requires Fox to assume a wide variety of duties, from human resources to advertising to marketing to sales to interacting with customers. It’s an environment that affords him plenty of opportunities for creativity, he says.

“When I had an idea at Nextel I’d have to work it through the corporate bureaucracy. Here, if it fails, it fails, but if it works you get that sense of success right away,” says Fox. “Being my own boss is fantastic.”