When Colleen Doran, a lawyer and entrepreneur, and Jordan Smith, a classically-trained chef turned restaurateur, met back in 1997, they were working together at D’Amico and Sons. It took a year for them to get together, but with an immediate connection they describe as “like soulmates who hadn’t known the other existed until that moment,” we sat down with Black Sheep  founders and spouses Colleen and Jordan to hear the secret sauce that keeps their relationship cooking. Hear what they had to say below!

WAS IT AN IMMEDIATE CONNECTION OR A LONG CON?

Colleen: We continue to debate about who made the first move – we both say it was the other. Jordan for sure gave me the first present; it was a bottle opener out of his collection. I lost it some months later and have always regretted that loss.

Jordan: Easy. Immediate connection, I liked her before I ever spoke with her. I was trapped, happily, in her web.

WHAT DREW YOU TO EACH OTHER?

Colleen: His love and devotion to food, wine, and everything gourmand. It was glorious to eat, drink and laugh with him, it still is. I gained 35 pounds in the first year that we were together, and I still have it. He still makes fun of me because I used to say that my favorite food was a hamburger and that I was perfectly happy if that was all I ever ate. I told him I regularly “forgot” to eat and that food meant practically nothing to me. I also hadn’t really been exposed to wine. I didn’t drink much, but when I did it was Miller Lite (ugh).

Jordan: Her passion! I had never met anyone like her; she’s all fire! I was and am a moth to the flame. 

FIRST DATE?

Colleen: Our first date was at Tulips restaurant in St. Paul. It’s not there anymore, but it was in a great little neighborhood and afterwards we walked and talked for hours. We even stopped at a park and he pushed me on a swing and just listened to me tell him about who I thought I was at the ripe old age of 32.

WHAT MAKES THE PARTNERSHIP WORK? BOTH IN BUSINESS AND IN LIFE?

Jordan: In business, Colleen is the idea person and has the vision to see any project come to life in her imagination. Being a lawyer doesn’t hurt either, especially for a hard-headed cook like me. As my partner in life, it is almost too much to discuss the impact she has had. She coached me through the building of our blended family, the great accomplishment of my adult life. She actually thinks I’m a great dad! She has encouraged me to find my human side, to be generous and loving. Taught me that it is safe to let people inside of my guard. She has opened up the spiritual side of me and I am so grateful. Oh yeah, and she also loves to travel the world with me!

Colleen: Jordan is a great work partner because he works so hard. He has never met a project he can’t do – cooking, building planter boxes, fixing refrigeration units, or managing our business. He can do anything. Jordan is a great partner in life because he loves fierce and deep. He will do absolutely anything for the ones he loves. He is also the most fun person I have ever met. We have worked, traveled, loved, graduated all of our blended family from high school and college, opened a bunch of businesses, closed some, moved a bunch of times, and still manage to laugh every single day. I don’t always get his jokes, but I appreciate that he keeps telling them to me. He loves to make me laugh and he always comes home with a smile on his face and a willingness to wake up and do it all again tomorrow. He was and is the perfect partner for me.

AND – WHAT MAKES FOR A GREAT FIRST DATE SPOT?

Jordan: It needs to be fun, not too formal, with enough action to cover the odd silence, but not too loud to allow for conversation. The place should encourage the sharing of food, drinks, conversation and a little of each other’s space! 🙂 The menu needs to be safe, but not boring. *gestures around him at Black Sheep Coal- Fired Pizza*

WHAT MAKES BLACK SHEEP SUCH A GREAT DATE SPOT?

Jordan: I think people like Black Sheep for first dates because it is easy. Everyone can find a pizza topping they like and everyone knows how to order a pizza. Part of our concept is to be a sharing environment, so two people could get a pizza, salad and half carafe of wine to share. We still order that for ourselves on a regular basis.

ONE LAST ONE – YOU LIVE ABOVE THE RESTAURANT?

Colleen: People always ask us if it is hard to live upstairs from our restaurant, but actually the opposite is true, it is the best thing ever. We love the feeling of community that exists living above a place that means so much to us. We love going down there and visiting with everyone, both employees and customers alike. It gives us an opportunity to connect with people that work there on such an easy level. On a practical level, it is also nice to have any bar or kitchen item you might need two floors below you!

What’s next for the couple? Find out over a house salad, a half carafe of red and the #1 at one of our three locations (or our MSP outpost).