Robert Hall is the CEO of Refined Hospitality Concepts, a hospitality group and catering company centered in Farmer’s Branch, Texas that serves the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area. He has decades of experience in the hospitality industry, from pizza shops to wineries. Robert uses his vast experience to foster a culture of excellence across all of his restaurants.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- How Refined Hospitality Concepts came to be
- The history of Bourbon and Banter
- Other brands and concepts: Sfereco, Primo’s MX, Overeasy, Waterproof, and Scout
- What is the future of Refined Hospitality Concepts?
- What Robert found most appealing about the industry
In this episode…
In this episode of the SpotOn Series, Chad Franzen speaks with Robert Hall, CEO of Refined Hospitality Concepts, about the atmosphere and inspiration for each of his restaurants. Robert strives to create a culture of excellence across all of his restaurants, from Bourbon and Banner’s speakeasy design to the fun Euro-Western atmosphere of Sfereco. His experience in the industry has propelled Refined Hospitality Concepts through the challenges of the pandemic, and the company continues to grow, introduce new concepts, and open new locations.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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Chad Franzen 0:20
Chad Franzen here co host for the show where we feature top restaurant tours, investors and business leaders. This is part of our SpotOn series. SpotOn has the best in class payment platform for retail and they have a flagship solution called SpotOn Restaurant, where they combine marketing software and payments all in one. They’ve sorted everyone from larger chains like Dairy Queen and Subway to small mom and pop restaurants. To learn more, go to spoton.com This episode is brought to you by Rise25. We help b2b businesses to get ROI clients referrals and strategic partnerships through done for you podcast. If you have a b2b business and want to build great relationships with clients, referral partners and thought leaders in your space, there’s no better way to do it than through podcasts and content marketing. To learn more, go to Rise25media.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hospitality pioneer Robert Hall began his career in the wine industry and has grown to become the CEO of one of the fastest growing restaurant and hospitality companies in the country. With nearly a dozen brands in his portfolio, and unique additional growth and manage Dining Services. Robert Hall brings his decades of experience in fine dining to create memorable customer experiences and a culture of excellence, a culture of excellence. Robert, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?
Robert Hall 1:30
Thank you so much for having me. Great to be here with you.
Chad Franzen 1:33
Hey, so tell me about Tell me a little bit more about Refined Hospitality Concepts? And how did it and how it came about?
Robert Hall 1:40
Absolutely. So several years ago, I met a gentleman through our catering endeavors. Here in the Dallas market. We have a lot of various types of functions that we do with our catering business, one of which is on the high end of the spectrum, in home, political fundraisers, things of that nature. A lot of political events, a lot of real estate events. And so I’d met this gentleman, Mehrdad Mohideen, who’s the CEO and President of Centurion, American Development, who had a lot of assets and projects around the DFW area and beyond. He’s got projects elsewhere in the country as well. But in a nutshell, his one of his most well known holdings here in Dallas is the Statler Hotel, the historic and iconic stellar Hotel in downtown Dallas that he brought through a whole reading process revamp process, with the in conjunction with the city of Dallas and, and several others. So I’d met him and learned about what they were what they had done, they got the hotel open had several brands or concepts that had performed well and some that they were looking to just have as a limited time only, and maybe do something different every couple of years. And in a nutshell, through the process of meeting and getting to know that gentleman, I eventually struck a such a great rapport with him and at such a great respect for him and what he does. I just kept taking on more and more projects until eventually, you know, he asked me and I’m very grateful to, to bring my businesses and his businesses all under one tent, and focus on you know, executing hospitality for a very wide range. And then and diverse demographics, depending on the sites or the development or the hotel or the restaurant opportunity that he may not be focused on at the time with him and his affiliated group. So for me, it was fascinating because it was a way to diversify across you know, fine dining text Max, you know, casual Italian upscale. And so, you know, about four years ago now, we made that decision, and we had a great start. And I’m sure you know where the story goes from here as we enter and traverse our way into the COVID impacts to our to the hospitality industry, which, you know, I chuckle almost as a nervous reaction probably because of all that we’ve all gone through as an industry and some of us have fared better than others. And I’m very grateful that we were big enough in the market that was a little bit easier to traverse the waters being in Texas than a lot of my colleagues and friends I came up with in this industry, but part of the story of Refined Hospitality Concepts came up came about through that relationship. And we’ve rapidly expanded into many different areas of food service and in restaurant touring, for example, to other food service for Southwest Airlines headquarters. T Mobile headquarters. We do Gamestop and we have some fun corporate accounts and some more announcements, big ones coming this spring. But you know, our love is steeped in the traditional brick and mortar restaurant touring and that’s where the passion comes from. And I grew up in my family’s Italian restaurant. Back in the Midwest and where I kind of got the bug before, like your wonderful reduction alluded to my grandfather gave me the opportunity to move to California and learn the wine business. And I was making that decision in the winter of 95 which that particular winter was a cold one where I’m from and about three days in a row of at below wind chill, I decided that I’d meet new friends and California sounded great. So I went and spent some wonderful time in the winemaking industry and, and which just enhanced my love for hospitality and got to see a different side of the business from a distribution perspective. And through the years it’s definitely woven its way into the fabric of refined hospitality, certainly one of my passions, being you know, wine and wine and spirits, certainly so,
Chad Franzen 5:45
So tell me about your beginnings kind of in the industry, you went to work for your, your, your grandfather, and kind of take me through that and how that how that looked.
Robert Hall 5:55
Sure. So it’s, it came about really, when I was a young man, I’d say my family history, but you know, unfortunately, we lost my daughter at a young age. And the natural thing was to it was my father’s son. So it was Robert Jr. I’m Robert Hall, the third most of my career in life. Everyone just called my grandfather, my dad was still in a lot of the winery publications. They’ve referred to Robert L Sr, as my father, but he’s actually my grandfather. So when we lost my dad, the natural thing to do was, you know, once a, you know, sir, driving my mom nuts, you know, was to go hang out with my grandfather, and he was always at work. So if you want to spend time with my grandfather, he lived on a lake, he lived on a golf course. He didn’t fish, she didn’t go golfing very often. He was at the restaurants. He was at his businesses. And he was one of those old school gentlemen who just lived to work and loves hospitality I, I joke, but it’s a true story I tell to my staff, sometimes I get the opportunity to speak to our staff and a new opening. You know, my grandfather used to wear an apron on Friday and Saturday nights, and he would go and help the servers and waiters, you know, bus the tables and interact with the guests and, and he would keep the little dollars and so forth that the tables would give them and we always thought it was so funny. You know, because people didn’t realize this he owned the restaurant, he owned the strip center the restaurant was then the on the fall on the section of land that the strip mall was on so he never He never shied away from $1 He never shied away from being that hard word grassroots type individual and that’s where I attribute my work ethic to kind of that real shoulder to shoulder hands on being involved in the business and being in hospitality at the at the table level which admittedly is gets harder and harder as we add more and more units but I do press upon my leaders that old school approach to you’re never you’re never bigger than the dish you know the dishwasher or the service assistants and we’re fine hospitality carries that you know hard work old school approach and its DNA everyday even as we get more corporate and add more lofty title positions to our to our offices are a true heart and core isn’t that simple desire to be hospitable and be at that table with the guests every way we can?
Chad Franzen 8:17
Yeah, as far as I can tell you have concepts. All of them have locations right around in Dallas or right around Dallas. But why don’t I just kind of walk you why don’t I just kind of throw the names out there. And you can kind of expand upon maybe the history of the concept and a little bit more about it. What about Bourbon and Banter?
Robert Hall 8:37
So Bourbon and Banner was one of the great concepts that I was fortunate enough to inherit when I took over the Statler Hotel. It had been concepted by a different group, who had it for the first couple of years the Statler and now I’ve had we’ve had it for about three years. And it’s just been a wonderful addition to our portfolio and to the certainly the hotel, but it’s a speakeasy style craft cocktail bar. It’s got its own little subculture in our company, the folks who work there tend to be extremely knowledgeable and passionate about, you know, small batch bourbons and that whole, you know, culture of whiskey and bourbon and scotch and great gins and they, I mean, it’s so much fun to engage in that unit when I get when I get the opportunity. My love for wine and my education and spirits and wine is constantly challenged. I’m happy to admit by going down into bourbon and banner and spending 20 minutes with those young people who are just so to use upon thirsty for knowledge on a daily basis and try and very often succeed at stomping me on the on the history or, or the background of a great cocktail. Whether it be you know, you know from New Orleans or you know, points west. So bourbon America’s just an awesome Some small, intimate, dark you know fun access you gotta go in through a phone booth and know the know the secret code which is not secret it’s 1914 star if you ever down there, which is our address for the Statler Hotel 1914 commerce, but that’s bourbon and banner just basically like it sounds and there’s some great little light bites that you can get there and by light bites, you’re in Texas, so steak freezes a light bite in Texas. You can start coterie boards and fun little snacks and you can also get more hardware selections as well but it’s predominantly what it sounds like a good great little speakeasy cocktail bar.
Chad Franzen 10:37
What about Overeasy?
Robert Hall 10:40
Overeasy is our we actually are I’m about 200 yards south of our second Overeasy location where I’m where I’m sitting right now and our our newest Scout location on the riverwalk out here in Flower Mound. The next Overeasy is not on the riverwalk itself, but it’s in a restaurant location, a couple 100 yards from here over by the hospital and the original location was at the Statler Hotel. And since the day we opened literally, it has just been wonderful diner Cafe darling with a little bit more wine and spirits offerings than I would say your typical breakfast lunch Hans usually has. We did We did go a little bit extensive on the offerings there just because we had the opportunity with bourbon in Bandra downstairs and waterproof which concept I’m sure you’ll be listing coming up but we had all this great opportunity there with LBW offerings at the Statler with all the concepts we were doing so we just thought let’s make a great breakfast and lunch kind of elevated diner style model but let’s add some great drinks to it. So great cocktails and and it’s just it’s been an absolute gem for us honestly for the last several years so we have a lot of goals to expand that brand in the DFW market and beyond cautiously because it is a very special location to us we believe the flour my location will have a lot of the similar opportunity that one has had to create a real following and and so we’re excited about it but it’s a great breakfast and lunch spot we are talking about adding a dinner service component kind of in that spirit of the diner. You know great burger chicken fried steak. Things of that nature. Great southwest salad. So look forward to maybe seeing a pm activation of Overeasy later on this year. But for right now it’s our breakfast and lunch darling.
Chad Franzen 12:38
Sounds good. How about Primos MX Kitchen,
Robert Hall 12:42
Primos does a you know it was an icon here and in Dallas and it goes back to 1986 You know the story is really fun that the folks who started the original Primos whether they intended it or not the one on McKinney Avenue which we now have the original location back we’ve been operating the original Primos location on McKinney Avenue in Uptown Dallas for over the last couple of years. You know heading towards three years. And so we had a big a big legacy to to try and align ourselves with once upon a time late 80s early 90s All of the chef’s who’s who in Dallas, you name them they hung out at Primos there were bottles of tequila on the table and it just became this industry place to hang out and meet your girlfriend boyfriend of the maybe your wife or husband or or night companion weekend companion was a real it was a real hotspot right so people have memories of that era. But they also there’s this whole section of people who have enjoyed the Primos brand from just that great Tex Mex staple in town going back you know 30 years plus so we wanted to find a new expression of free most to be reflective of you know the DFW culture of today which is a lot more diverse you know, we added for example, we added you know, impossible meats and we added some healthier selections. We do a fun little substitution on your standard Tex Mex combo you know usually get rice and beans or substitute that will let you substitute to a super salad and give up your rice and beans or a mini Margarita so we let you make those healthy switch outs. But we’ll also let you add a little you know, many margaritas we kept the fun and playfulness of the brand. But we contemporize the menu to offer some more selections that you know our guests are looking for today but don’t get me wrong. You can definitely go get a chimichanga cheese enchiladas and we’ll bury you in Citroens and queso and all the wonderful things that people associate with Tex Mex comfort food brands expanding fast. I just had lunch with a group before this in our Flower Mound location which is our newest location. We’re going to open Mercer crossing next which is 35 e 635 in Dallas, the original location is open today as the Statler Hotel location as well as the Flower Mound. So exciting exciting growth for that brand, a Dallas favorites that we’ve done a nice summation. Fortunately, a good job bridging yesteryear to today and so we’re gonna keep evolving that brand as we go over the next couple of years.
Chad Franzen 15:26
All right, very nice. You have a concept called Scout. Yeah, can you tell me about that?
Robert Hall 15:32
So Scout, I’m sitting in the new Scout right now. Here in Flower Mound. The original location is at the Statler Hotel. That unit has a bowling alley and a vintage bowling alley to blend with that mid century, modern expression that is the Statler from there it was built, we had an historical obligation there to align the facilities with that style period. So you’ll find that the scout at the Statler has bowling alleys and has a little bit more of that 50s 60s look to it. But it does have all of the fun adult gaming, whether it’s you know, you know, Walking Dead, you know, video games, or you know, your gold tees and photo booths. And it’s also got ping pong and foosball and lots of fun things for people to do. It’s used very frequently as an event venue as well. So we have a lot of people who do rent the space out for everything from, you know, birthday parties to corporate team building events, and all those kinds of things. So that’s a chef inspired Sports Bar gastropub type menu so you’ll see little hints of Tex Mex and see little hints of barbecue, you’ll see that steak staple but it’s just a great bit of Americana, celebrating you know, adventure sports, the outdoors, you know, in a fun and lively atmosphere little reminiscent of you know, the sports bar craze of the 90s You know, I had the opportunity of at one time being involved in the the Champs Americana ride, and some days it reminds me a little bit of that yesteryear forever when sports bars really, really took off by adding an elevated culinary component. So scout is kind of a lot of things for our guests to do to entertain themselves. It’s also got a great menu where it can be a standalone destination for lunch or dinner or late night food. And we have great beer, local, local and international selections. Awesome cocktail menu and just a fun, fun place to be.
Chad Franzen 17:41
What about Sfereco?
Robert Hall 17:43
Sfereco is a fun, fun little twist on words, you know, polarizing name in the beginning with the marketing folks, but you know, we wanted to do a meatball shop even more so than the pizzeria. I grew up in we had an Italian restaurant and banquet center family, Italian restaurant business and through marriage. And so I had gotten sucked in very early on for at a very early age before I can remember loving Italian food and American Italian food. In particular. I had a wonderful career in New York City and unbeaten in some amazing fine dining Italian restaurants around the world that own fine dining restaurant. Sfereco’s is not that. Sfereco is meant to be tons of fun with the scratch kitchen. It’s a sphere company, right? And so it was it was almost a joke, but the chef knows it’s make spheres that make meatballs so we make meatballs out of you know plant based, you know, me we make it out of seafood meat we make it out of ground beef. So anything spherical was the idea you know, or you could have a crab, Burton barbecue meatball, regular Italian beef cake meatball, a chicken and pesto meatball. So that was really the genesis of the idea. When I lived in New York, I used to love to go to the meatball shop which is a successful chain of meatball shops in New York. Opened by some some folks I had a pleasure meeting a few times. And anyway when the pandemic hit of course everyone’s ordering pizza. The brand was brand new and so our pizza business didn’t one of these fortunately, and the meatballs became secondary to the narrative. However, as far as the P mix goes it’s pretty close but pizza is still the winner. And by the way lasagna and some of our passes are we say third but not by much. The team the product makes is pretty tight at the top. But pizza is definitely wondering the pandemic but it was meant to be a playful meatball spaghetti western when you go when you walk inside you’ll see the movie poster boards with the lights around them and a lot of red and green and fun colors but you’ll have Western cowboy figures with Italian riding on them because if you remember the A Sergio Leone spaghetti western era which I was a favorite of mine growing up, and we just thought it was a fun play to bring How do you make Texas or the West synonymous with Italian and it’s been done before by some groups are close to it and some concepts but for us, we went all in with the whole you know cowboys with Italian writing you know from yesteryear is kind of our decor model and also gave us a reason to have a bunch of whiskey and a bunch of tequila at the bar because growing up and leaving my family’s places or friends places or places I like to frequent. We didn’t let’s face it, a lot of them beer and wine selections were you know, you get that, you know, Jaga Kiani and the wicker basket or you could get some franzia or you could get maybe a Coors lights, but they didn’t have a ton of offerings whereas Fiocco you can get you know, you can get high end tequila small batch bourbons you can get frozen drinks. So it’s got a really great bar offering as soon as well as as being a great little meatball and pizzeria
Chad Franzen 20:58
And of all the meatballs are what’s your favorite
Robert Hall 21:01
You know, my favorite is very simply as the Italian beef cake is the traditional I love our meatballs it’s I love our sauce. It was an absolute process with the chef’s were to get us all to agree on the beef meatballs and so it was going to be you know the name and lights if as it were and having the right ratio of of ground beef with the right ratio of breading to give it that that softness without cheapening the boat that’s that man we’ve been in. We’ve been in fights over that. I won’t say it’s 2022 HR consider it but let me tell you the chef’s and I have had some heated heated discussions about that meatball through the years and right now and over the last couple of years we’ve really hit a great stride of consistency at the locations where it’s in my opinion unfortunately our guests just a great balance of a great tender meat beef meatball with all the great flavor that can hold up to that that red sauce and and stand alone I often eat them without any pasta or anything too often. asked my wife certainly
Chad Franzen 22:09
The the next one of your concepts Waterproof, that looks incredible. Can you tell me about that?
Robert Hall 22:13
That is a very fun star of the show. Certainly from a financial model perspective, you know, I have a large background and love and as I mentioned in fine dining and concepts are very steeped in the culinary traditional Waterproof doesn’t have a kitchen, it’s on the 19th floor of the hotel. It’s got a pool of beautiful bar inside beautiful cabanas and fire features and different areas to lounge and enjoy the you know the audits the rooftop of the Statler being downtown Dallas. We its food comes from combined menu but it’s predominantly the Sfereco menu. So what’s fun about Waterproof is you can order a great pizza or Caesar salad or shrimp scampi or something like that and enjoy it up to 19 floors up looking at the beautiful skyline of Dallas but where we really become Waterproof is in our bottle service or champagne or cocktail kids. Or excuse me our cocktail program, which if you try to go to Waterproof on a Friday or Saturday nights, when it’s going to be decent weather out. It becomes a very very popular place and a very difficult place to to get into sometimes certainly without reservations and can make the lobby at the Statler quite lively on Friday and Saturday nights for folks trying to get up to the 19th floor. So it’s definitely been a gem in our portfolio. It’s a lot of fun, beautiful views, great cocktails, great bottle service and a really fun, really fun concept. We don’t have any Waterproofs branded Waterproofs ahead of us and are in a couple of our new hotel projects we do have concepts that are going to be celebratory of of their pools and so forth, but I think Waterproof is gonna wind up being a one of a kind and if you’re in Dallas ever and and planning to go near around the Statler Hotel or hopefully stay with us, definitely make a reservation and get it on your list. It’s a it’s a lot of
Chad Franzen 24:13
Did I did I leave anything out?
Robert Hall 24:17
You know, we’ve got a plethora of concepts that were that we’re announcing shortly. i You might have seen the Gas Monkey, Mr. Richard Rollins and we’re doing a couple of the new Gas Monkey grill concepts Bar and Grill concepts. We have one in Lewisville opening and one in Mercer crossing. We also have a cocktail den called parliament that is very famous in Dallas and the owners of that have agreed to partner with RHC and so we’re opening one here in Flower Mound and one in Westlake. So those are some exciting projects coming up and then we also have two new steakhouse projects coming up. One is in in the Brazilian steakhouse tradition. That’s called Braza. And that will find its way to, you know, some of our developments on the northern side of DFW. And then our first foray in REC into old fine dining, I’m having proud to announce is going into the old abacus building, which is an uptown at 4511. McKenney, their chef Rathmines old iconic fine dining restaurant from when he was an Iron Chef and I my first job when I got down here from Manhattan, I was fortunate enough to work with Chef Kent and, and his partner, Bill Hyde at the time. And we had a great run after the restaurant already been open, you know, 15 years at that point. It was open for 20 years in total, I believe. But we’re going back into that space, a lot of expectations and the concept is called Monty’s modern char house. And one of my oldest friends and very accomplished chef, Chef Jason Tillman, who worked for David Burke and Daniel balloon. Morimoto, and several other wonderful institutions was helming that project. So we’re in the middle of construction right now. But we pride ourselves on reusing masters beef, which is a very famous old New York beef purveyor that sells to Peter lugares, for example, and we’re doing a concept of steeped in the tradition of great technique and the classics, but with modern expressions and everything. So look forward to seeing a lot more about our Montes modern Charthouse in the months to come as well, that’s gonna be a fun new addition to portfolio,
Chad Franzen 26:26
Your your concepts kind of you kind of run the gamut on everything. And not only is a different food, but it’s kind of you know, you have there’s a pool in one spot, bowling alley in one spot, you got you kind of have separate, separate different cultures in each place. What is the what’s kind of the key to success in terms of making sure all those things kind of stay on point where you’d like them?
Robert Hall 26:49
Well, what a question and I’ll give you, I’ll give you the most succinct answer, I can, but that’s when I could talk about all day, because that has been a lot of trial and error through the years and finding the right plan. But I think, I think anyone in our industry, and most industries would say that number one is people, you have to find leaders that are not only competent in whatever sector, you know, whether it’s fine dining, or fast casual, or even just catering or a cafe, a corporate Cafe environment, you have to find someone who’s you know, not only experienced and competent in those environments, but also passionate, right, and that’s a word that gets thrown a lot around a lot. But for me, I can quantify it because I, if I come and I, you know, your first 90 days is easy, but six months, nine months and a year and a half later, what I pride myself in RSC is we still get excited about things and our top leaders, the guys and gals who run this organization, when they’re still excited, you know, a year and a half into a brand 234 years into into a project, almost as if they were that first year, that’s what really sets us apart, continuing to drive that narrative of creativity and excitement about that genre. And if you don’t love what you do, you can’t do that. So if you’re, if you’re if you’re a sports guy, sports bar person, you’re probably not gonna go to the linen tablecloth restaurant and have the greatest time. So we’re cognizant of that trying to match our leaders with the concepts that we think they’ll thrive in. And to make them successful, I have some more, you know, boring CFO answers for you. But one of the things I believe, I believe, and I’m the CEO or CFO is wonderful guy named John TwinTech. But we believe in using a governing software. So I do have a governing software compete that keeps us all on an app keeps us all very cognizant of, you know, to the minute what our sales are, what our labor is. And when I first hired people, I tell them, you’re gonna think that this is a policing tool for for me to you. But what you’re really going to find is, it’s a policing tool from you to me, because it’s a way that they can communicate and share things that are going on in their unit, whether it’s a Broken Hand sink or, or just issues with staffing or, you know, pool cues that need attention, it’s a way of opening the communication real time across multi unit because as you know, once you go to this level of multi unit, you just can’t be everywhere. And a lot of times, you can get stuck and it’s been a part of my corporate career, you find yourself, you’re only going to the places that need help, right and so you’re never really checking in with those who are on track and then you create a gap. So we use a lot of technology to talk to each other to share ideas with each other to hold each other accountable, to share wins and also to let each other know about you know, potential pitfalls and how we’ve arranged for something so I would say that people in technology are our two of the big folks that are exceeding set us apart and really trying to you know, provide a great hospitality while executing a successful business model.
Chad Franzen 29:44
I have one more question for you, but first how can people find out more about older concept respond refine hospitality concepts?
Robert Hall 29:52
Yeah, so absolutely refinedhospitalityconcepts.com or you can definitely go to the Statler Hotel pages or any of our you know Have our social handles. Now Primo’s, of course, we just Google Primo’s. Primo’s MX Kitchen has its websites, Sfereco has its websites as well, you can go to each brand. But if you want to just see overarching things about our company or upcoming projects, you can certainly find those on the refined hospitality concepts website.
Chad Franzen 30:19
I’m sorry, I have two more. Two more questions for you. How is COVID? affected? You guys are impacted the way you do operations?
Robert Hall 30:26
The short answer is it’s changed everything about the business other than what can’t change, right. So you still need that core belief that you’re, you’re here for your guests, you’re here for providing experience, you’re here to be hospitable. And that COVID can never change. What it did for me, we were just talking about it. I had a luncheon next door with some of our bankers, and they wanted to very just catch up and ask some of these questions about what’s changed since the last time we saw you guys, how do you navigate these waters? How Why are you still here? Why do you still want to do this crazy business? And the answer is this, we learned so much during COVID. I don’t like to focus on the negative side, you know, there’s all kinds of terrible things that everyone’s covered enough. But what I want to say positively, it gave me the discipline to go after, you know, our third party delivery model, our takeout technology to really and the other thing is, you know, sales cures all that’s an old thing and most businesses but certainly the hospitality business. Well, the reverse of that gave us the opportunity to really look at each item line item on that p&l And go wait a minute, you know, what, what are we really paying for? That? That that that napkin or what are we really, what are we really paying for janitorial overarching? Or how are we how are we really model you know, good times, can can cover up a lot of fat too. And we didn’t have a ton, but it just gave us a way to systemize our approach to be more granular and have more intervals. I mean, literally, it used to be weekly right now we’re daily and in some units hourly, depending on his trajectory. And so COVID definitely helped us sharpen our pencil, look at new ways to add revenue, certainly brought us into the ghost kitchen model, and then got us into this thought process of wow, we never really thought before, what do we do with this, all of this capacity on days where maybe we’re not using it to its full potential. That could be you know, adding some ghost kitchen menus, it could be trying to amp up our UberEATS, DoorDash, GrubHub Postmates model, or a plethora of things. And then it was also the biggest positive out of it was teaching our younger generation of managers and I don’t even mean age wise, I just mean, you know, shorter 10 or newer to the business managers how to go look for top line revenue, because that is the name of the game, right. And if you can get back onto pre pandemic sales trajectory, again, which we’re all you know, very eagerly heading towards hopefully keeping that you know, DNA in your company of having your whole management team still constantly looking creatively for ways to capture top line revenue, I think was the biggest positive that COVID broad because when when times were high, and we’re all at a fatted calf and we were just managing volume holding on to the reins as it were to some degrees. You weren’t always looking for that opportunity and sometimes opportunities were passing you by that you just hadn’t realized before we connected with and I’ll close with this on this question. We reconnected with so many of our neighbors who self Admittedly, I wasn’t calling that car dealership I wasn’t, you know, dropping brownies off at that, you know, you know, college annex building downtown for you and tea, you know, things that we just taken the business for granted, right. And it gave us a reminder that you got to stay engaged, you got to get out and meet your neighbors, you got to stay with your tentacles out in many different areas whether it be online or through traditional snail mail. So I would say COVID made us take a look again and how we can really stay focused on building other revenue streams and and continue to try and stay healthy and keep a good bottom line even in the most difficult times.
Chad Franzen 34:07
Final question for you. When you first started out working you know working for your grandfather in the wine industry and then break getting into the kind of restaurants and hospitality What did you find most appealing about that industry? At the time and is that still what you find most appealing about the industry?
Robert Hall 34:24
You know, what I fell in love with honestly and I I talked about it often is it was almost intangible. It was kind of an olfactory thing and I can describe it as this kind of like a rainy day in the spring where it hit me I didn’t know was hitting me at the time but I remember it was a rainy day in the spring and I walked in the back door of the restaurant after school. I think it was in the sixth grade. I know it was in the sixth grade and there was something about the smell of the stock mat the you know what was cooking on the grill mat the the hot chocolate the hot chocolate that was being made was just kind of that whole sensory sights, sounds and smells. And then that expanded to the cooperativeness of the staff and the camaraderie and at that time was very pre pre pre shift was very jovial. And those times got very serious, especially the days my grandfather was there, which is every day, but just that whole intoxicating sights, smells and sounds, and I still love that about the industry. I still love pressing problems with my guests. I still love walking back into the kitchen and, and smelling the and hearing the sizzle. And it’s I know it sounds so simple, but it really for me, it does sound much more than that. Just having a love for food and love for the process. I still have a great love for the people who do it even though the business has changed so much in the past few years. In some ways. It’s heartbreaking that we’re having a harder time attracting people back to hospitality again, just because I think it’s such a core human experience to love food, love, laughter, love, camaraderie and enjoy the sights and smells associated. They’re in it’s a sensory, opera or circus, whatever, depending on the day, and, and I just I’m it’s not what I do. It’s who I am, and I couldn’t change it if I wanted to.
Chad Franzen 36:08
Hey, Robert, it’s been great to talk to you. Thanks so much for sharing all your stories and information and best wishes in the future. Thank you so much for your time, as well. soloing, everybody.
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