Paul Watson: A BC Entrepreneur
PW’s Hometown Bistro. It’s the place locals do lunch during workdays in Bluefield. It’s the hot spot for high school and college kids with the munchies on weekends. It’s one of the busiest, most popular sub shops in town, owned by entrepreneur and Bluefield College alumnus Paul Watson.
November 20, 2012
Bluefield College alumnus Paul Watson, owner of PW's Bistro and entrepreneur extraordinaire.
“I always wanted to own my own business,” said Watson about the dream he’s now living as owner and operator of PW’s Bistro. He realized that, he said, growing up in Gaithersburg, Maryland, long before moving to Bluefield.
Toward that end, he started working at Arby’s restaurant in 2000 and then Wendy’s in 2001. Later, after moving to Bluefield, he worked for Ryan’s Steakhouse, where he even trained new employees. While working at Ryan’s, the owners of Bluefield’s Quiznos sub shop approached Watson and offered him a managerial position.
“I met the owners of the new Quiznos while working at Ryan’s,” said Watson. “After getting to know them for a couple of months, we discussed the management opportunity that existed at their store, and I became the manager of Quiznos.”
A year later, the owners decided to sell, and Watson saw this as his opportunity to fulfill a dream.
“I was already managing the restaurant,” he said about the decision to buy Quiznos. “I knew the ins and outs. It was a natural progression.”
But, he admits, he still needed additional training to ensure success. That’s when he enrolled in Bluefield College’s inSPIRE adult degree completion program.
“I very much enjoyed being in class where theory and actual work experience blended together,” said Watson about his career-oriented studies at Bluefield College. “Also, the flexibility with classes and assignments allowed me the opportunity to have a career outside the classroom.”
After earning his bachelor’s degree in organizational management and development from BC in 2005, Watson went on to acquire a master’s degree in business administration.
“Bluefield College put me in the correct frame of mind,” Watson said about the tools he needed to fulfill his dream of becoming a successful business owner. “The instructors at BC were very committed to every student’s success, and with the general courses in business and real life learning environment, it only helped fuel my need and passion to own my own business.”
Watson dropped the Quiznos franchise and opened the independent PW’s in 2010, which has since become one of the most popular eateries in Bluefield with its hometown ambiance, community outreach, and tasty toasty subs.
“I lead by example,” said Watson, who’s often found bussing tables, prepping food or completing other basic tasks at PW’s. “I’m no better than any one of my employees, and I treat them more as colleagues, rather than subordinates.”
Working alongside his wife and partner, Kimberly Irvine, Watson said he also believes in empowering employees by “letting them do their job” and by challenging them to learn as much about the business as possible in the event they, too, want to someday own their own restaurant.
“To run a successful business, you must dedicate time and a lot of it to making your vision come true,” said Watson, who added that he hopes to someday own and operate multiple locations of PW’s. “Don’t go into business with the thought that you will be laying on the beach having drinks brought to you. Know how you are doing compared to your goals and how other businesses are doing around you. And, get to know your neighbors, because they could end up being a lifeline for you in the future.”
Wanting to help even more entrepreneurs like Paul, Bluefield College recently developed a new major specifically for e-business and entrepreneurship. As part of the school’s inSPIRE online degree completion program, the e-business andentrepreneur (EBE) program is designed for working adults whose goals are tooperate or maintain a new or existing business.
“We are extremely excited about this academically-challenging and practical curriculum,” said Cathy Payne, director of inSPIRE online admissions. “It’s perfect for working adults who desire to complete a bachelor’s degree from a well-respected, accredited, Christ-centered college and who have dreamed ofstarting a business of their own.”
Through courses entirely online in entrepreneurship, mission and strategy development, business communication, Internet marketing, finance, quality control, technology, ethics, and other e-business practices, students in the program are equipped to become business leaders in today’s electronic world. Grounded soundly in the liberal arts, the EBE major also includes emphasis on writing, speaking and research skills.
Adults with prior college credit who are interested in training in e-business and entrepreneurship are encouraged to visit the Bluefield College web site at www.bluefield.edu/inspire, or to contact the BC Admissions Office by e-mail at or by phone at 800-872-0176. Classes for the new EBE are enrolling now.