Chris Bily, the creator of Syracuse restaurants XO Taco and Original Grain, has been in the kitchen his entire life, but even while growing up constantly around food he had no idea that experience would one day translate into his career.
“My grandmother just loved to cook and they were always cooking all the time. My grandfather was a meat packer,” Chis says. “My mom loved to cook but was never formally trained or anything. Just a good family background with a lot of people that enjoyed cooking.”
Eventually, it was his family’s love for cooking that prompted him to get jobs that allowed him to be as close to food as possible, first a dishwasher, then a bartender, and eventually in restaurant management. In fall of 2018, he opened XO taco with a distinct vision.
“In the subconscious, I think a lot of people thought and visualized that is was like lips and lipstick and you know Xs and Os and a kiss on a love note,” Chris says of the feedback he received when asking friends what came to mind when they heard the name XO Taco.
But XO Taco isn’t his only successful restaurant. Chris has always had a love for healthy eating but could never find any healthy options in downtown Syracuse. That struggle prompted him to open Original Grain. It has been so successful, he’s opening another OG in Rochester this May.
One quick look at his Instagram will show you Chris’ love for healthy food and fitness extends beyond Original Grain. He says working out every day is an important part of managing so many different roles.
“For me a motivator a way to burn off not only steam but gain some mental clarity. And that’s mental focus and clarity that really for me lasts throughout the whole day so that my decision making is even heightened and better,” Chris explains.
While he is currently hard at work preparing for the May opening of Rochester’s OG, Chris hopes this is just the beginning.
“We can eventually moving forward after Rochester, plugin and have a really cool playbook for different cities and different towns and different people that are looking for OG,” Chris says.
In the years to come, Chris dreams of opening Original Grains in cities across the nation.