Pasta By Hudson After Shark Tank: We Caught Up With The Founder

When Brandon Fay burst into the shark tank, he exuded effortless confidence with a spirited and high-energy pitch that he broadcast to the five sharks across from him: "I make a lot of dough — pasta dough, baby." Fay was there to talk about Pasta by Hudson, his fast-casual dining concept in the Columbus Circle transit hall, where he offered fresh pasta with your choice of homemade sauces and assorted toppings served in Chinese takeout containers. Fay's pitch was for $150,000 in exchange for 10% equity in his business to allow him to expand the pasta bar outside of its 390-square-foot location in the transit hall. 

"Shark Tank" viewers may remember that Fay's Pasta by Hudson episode aired on March 27th, 2020, the day that New York City officially went into lockdown at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Tasting Table recently sat down with Brandon Fay at his new restaurant, The Perry Club in the West Village, where he shared that his episode is one of the most viewed "Shark Tank" episodes of all time because so many folks were stuck at home. Fay left the show with a deal from Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner for 30% of his company, 20% and 10%, respectively. Though Fay's episode aired in March 2020, it was filmed months earlier, in September 2019, well before the world shut down. How has Pasta by Hudson fared after "Shark Tank," and how has Brandon Fay transformed his business in the years since the tapping?

Brandon Fay serr happens behind the scenes on Shark Tank

Shark Tank episodes are roughly 42 minutes long and feature pitches from several different entrepreneurs that are edited down to an average of about 11 minutes each. So, how long are the contestants actually pitching to the sharks? Brandon Fay was in the shark tank for almost three and a half hours, but he says the first 30 minutes of the pitch were heavily dominated by the sharks chowing down on his fresh pasta dishes. For the presentation, Fay cooked almost the entirety of his menu at Pasta by Hudson five times over, including fresh bucatini, Mezzi rigatoni, and pappardelle with hand-crushed Pomodoro sauce, a la vodka, pesto, and alfredo. He also served his most popular side dishes: cheesy meatballs, garlic bread, and mushrooms.

Viewers saw the sharks with their mouths full of fresh pasta while they questioned Fay about the history of his business and his plans for the restaurant's future. A moment during the presentation that didn't make the final cut of "Shark Tank" had Fay in a fit of nerves. Out of nowhere, Mark Cuban held up one of the Chinese take-out containers that were filled with pasta and turned it upside down as if to dump the contents out. To Fay's joy and relief, there was nothing left. Cuban had eaten the entire portion. It's no wonder that Cuban soon offered Fay a deal for a stake in Pasta by Hudson, but he wasn't the only interested shark. 

What it feels like to be offered a deal on Shark Tank

After watching "Shark Tank" episodes for so many hours, Brandon Fay decided that his main goal on the show was not to get a deal but to make sure he and his brand looked good, no matter what happened. You can feel that confidence and assuredness during Fay's presentation. He never loses his cool, even when two sharks stand up to celebrate a deal before he's even agreed to it.

Viewers may remember Barbara Corcoran making the first offer for a 50% stake exclusively for the online distribution of Fay's cheesy meatballs, which she called "the best meatballs I've ever had." Had Fay known that the world would shutter in six short months, he may have taken Corcoran's offer. But before he could fully digest her proposal, Mark Cuban came in swinging, wanting 20% of Pasta by Hudson. Lori Greiner quickly suggested she and Cuban go in on a deal together, and soon, they agreed on how to split their shares. Then they both stood up to hug Fay before he said yes. "When you hear it, you're like, oh my god, it's actually happening." After Mark Cuban said, "I'll make you a deal," Fay's emotions completely took over. "I didn't even have a chance to think — everyone is throwing things at you, and you don't want to lose the deal." The rest is history.

Brandon Fay's journey to appearing on Shark Tank

Prior to the pandemic, Insider reported that 35,000 to 40,000 entrepreneurs apply to appear on "Shark Tank" yearly. March of 2019 was when Brandon Fay applied to "Shark Tank," exactly one year before his eventual episode would air. Fay told us he started the process by sending emails, then graduated to making phone calls to try to convince the producers he was a good fit. He soon learned that there are three components of "Shark Tank": the entrepreneurs, the producers, and the sharks. According to Fay, each group has "parallel values" that go toward "working together to create this great, beautiful show." There are the sharks, out for making investments, the entrepreneurs who are there to live the American dream, and the producers looking to create great television to give hope and inspiration."

In July 2019, Fay received the call that would change his life. The producers told him there was a possibility he might appear on the show, he just had to send a few more materials to help them really sink their teeth into what makes Pasta by Hudson special. Fay couldn't send them his fresh pasta to taste, so he had to convince them with words, photographs, and videos. Shortly afterward, Fay learned his chances were increasing. He would be flown out to Los Angeles for three days, "but you never know if you'll be on the show until you're on the show."

The elaborate preparation Brandon Fay did for his pitch on Shark Tank

Before appearing on "Shark Tank," Brandon Fay watched every single previous episode. As part of his preparation, he wrote down the top 100 questions that frequently appeared and also wrote down the answers entrepreneurs gave in response, whether or not they were offered a deal. He wanted to understand why certain deals were made, and others weren't.

When it was almost time to fly to California for the tapping, Fay spoke with a mentor who expressed concern that three days wouldn't give Fay enough time to properly prep for the show. Taking this guidance to heart, Fay decided to adjust his flight and put himself up in a hotel for two weeks so that he could search for the freshest ingredients in Los Angeles and procure a pasta machine. Luckily, a local pasta machine company lent Fay a machine that was in use at a nearby restaurant. He then rented a test kitchen where he cooked for two weeks straight, perfecting his recipes and sharing his food with other tenants in the building. 

Just before filming, Fay learned that he would be cooking in a food truck on the production lot. He arrived early that morning and spent the day cooking "fast and furiously" until he received a fifteen-minute warning that it was time to enter the shark tank. Fay finished the last dishes in front of the sharks and presented them with his full, freshly prepared menu.

The inspiration for Pasta by Hudson that you didn't see on Shark Tank

For Brandon Fay, one of the most important aspects of Pasta by Hudson is the name. Fay shared its origin story during his "Shark Tank" presentation, but that portion never made it on air. Fay first encountered the concept of a fast-casual fresh pasta bar in Venice, Italy, where he was visiting with his wife and then six-month-old daughter, Hudson. Even as a baby, Hudson never ate baby food, so she would sample portions of what the adults around her ate. During one fateful trip, the family visited Venice and stumbled upon a hole-in-the-wall pasta shop that was no more than 15 feet by 15 feet with a line of customers all the way down the canal.

They waited for an hour and a half to try the fresh pasta, which was served in Chinese take-out containers. What immediately struck Fay was how deeply his daughter enjoyed the pasta and how much he appreciated the simplicity of it — pasta made with fresh ingredients, with any sauce of your choosing. "You don't need all the bells and whistles. You don't need to overcomplicate food." After that trip, Fay decided to leave his 20-year-long career at a celebrated Italian restaurant to embark on his own pasta adventure. To honor the trip that changed everything, Fay named his restaurant Pasta by Hudson so he would always remember the moment he saw his daughter digging into the fresh pasta.

The pandemic changed Pasta by Hudson's trajectory

The last time Pasta by Hudson's original Columbus Circle location was open was March 27th, 2020, the same day that Brandon Fay's "Shark Tank" episode aired. When New York City began sheltering in place, Fay had around $7,500 of inventory in the restaurant's refrigerator. As the son of two NYC bridge and tunnel officers, Fay felt compelled to give back in the way he knew best — through food. With the help of friends, Fay began cooking up meals and delivering them across the city to fire departments, hospitals, and precincts. He made fresh pasta and cheesy meatballs for those helping to keep the city safe.

After Lori Greiner learned about how Fay was serving the community, she began appearing on Facetime during hospital meal drop-offs so she could thank healthcare workers and spread a little cheer. Soon, word spread about Pasta by Hudson being one of the only kitchens in the city operating, and Fay began fielding messages on social media for requests to deliver meals to patients in the emergency room and workers who hadn't gone home in weeks. The restaurant's original location never reopened,, but in November 2020, Fay opened a Pasta by Hudson outpost in Chelsea with the same fast-casual concept. In November 2021, he opened a sit-down restaurant, The Perry Club, in the West Village with all his fresh pasta dishes and an expanded menu with salads, large plates, and various specialty pizzas.

Brandon Fay has advice for future Shark Tank hopefuls

The first thing Brandon Fay recommends for aspiring entrepreneurs hoping to appear on "Shark Tank" is to follow the show on Instagram. He believes that social media is the best way to stay apprised of application deadlines. If you miss out on your target season, even if you're selected during the next round, your episode won't air for another two years — a long time for you and your business to wait. Once you get the magic call, Fay encourages business owners to thoroughly prepare themselves. "Like anything in business, know your business. Be confident. Mark Cuban says this a lot: 'The sharks don't bet on the horse; they bet on the jockey.' It's all about the jockey, not the horse."

Fay stresses that there is "no such thing as overnight success. There are only peaks and valleys every single day." He likens the challenges of operating a business to that old exercise expression, telling Tasting Table that "it's not a sprint; it's a marathon." In practice, running gives Fay other avenues of advice. "I've run nine marathons," he says, "and I always start out very slow because I want to maintain stamina. That's what you have to think about when you're an entrepreneur. Start off slow so that you don't burn out early." Among other essential lessons, Fay shared just how important a story is to drive your business forward.

What's next for Brandon Fay and Pasta by Hudson

"When I build restaurants, I'm not building them to fulfill what I like, I'm building the restaurant for everyone else. It's their home at the end of the day, I'm just working there." Brandon Fay's community spirit can be felt as soon as you arrive at his restaurants. The Perry Club in the West Village is currently obscured by scaffolding but bursting with colorful floral decorations. During our interview, three different local diners passed by and shouted warm greetings to Fay, exuding the kind of familial energy that has become all too rare in New York City.

Now that Fay has two successful restaurants up and running, he has his sights set on a third location, but first, he's working to manufacture his pasta sauces for the mass market. The vision is to bring Pasta by Hudson sauces to specialty markets throughout the city and to some select restaurants. While there aren't currently concrete plans to bring Fay's cheesy meatballs online, he still hopes to achieve that one day. 

In the meantime, Fay enjoys watching his young daughter, Hudson join the family business by serving cookies to customers and inquiring about how they're enjoying their meals. Fay is tremendously grateful for how "Shark Tank" has helped him grow his business, and he remains incredibly humble. "I hope that I'm delivering something to the community, I hope I'm delivering something that really resonates."