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Alli JarrettAlli Jarrett is the President and CEO of Harold’s, a Houston-based restaurant that embodies southern hospitality. Her extensive leadership and business development experience come from several different sectors including media, sports, and sales. Alli is passionate about giving back to communities and serves on different volunteer boards including the Texas Restaurant Association.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Alli Jarrett shares her process of creating a business from concept to reality
  • How to embrace change to benefit your business
  • Alli’s tips on finding ways to give back to communities
  • The pandemic’s impact on the Small Business Administration
  • Alli talks about successfully scaling businesses and planning ahead

In this episode…

In this episode of the SpotOn Series, Chad Franzen is joined by Alli Jarrett, President and CEO of Harold’s. They discuss the importance of positively impacting communities through your business and finding your formula for success through experimentation. Alli goes on to explain the key elements for long-term business concepts, how to make a difference with quality products, and overcoming the challenges the pandemic created for the hospitality industry.

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:04  

Welcome to the Top Business Leaders Show, powered by Rise 25 Media, we featured top founders, executives and business leaders from all over the world

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 saved everyone from larger chains like Dairy Queen and subway to small mom and pop restaurants. To learn more, go to spot This episode is brought to you by Rise 25 We help B2B businesses to get ROI clients referrals and strategic partnerships through done for you podcasts. 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 or email us at Alli Jarrett is President and CEO of low tide seafood and Harold’s Restaurant and Bar and Terrace both in Houston, Texas. She went to the University of South Carolina on a golf scholarship is an alum of Goldman of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small businesses program serves on volunteer boards, including the Texas Restaurant Association, Texas Golf Hall of Fame and spirit Golf Association. She’s a senior warden at her church and loves to scuba dive. Hey, Alli, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?

Alli Jarrett  1:34  

I’m well thanks so much, Chad for having me.

Chad Franzen  1:37  

Sure. Hey, so tell me a little bit. To start off. Tell me a little bit about your story. As I mentioned, you play golf at South Carolina. Where did you go from there?

Alli Jarrett  1:46  

I did. I grew up in a little town called Kingstree South Carolina in the in the rural part of the state. And I guess was lucky enough I hurt my knee playing basketball and turned to golf and and ended up getting a golf scholarship at the University of South Carolina and grew up in a family owned wholesale business that that I really enjoyed. My granddaddy started out the trunk of his car and we were in business 52 years and and then I had an opportunity to work in golf. And so I took a job with the United States Golf Association. And that’s what brought me to Houston actually chose to live here in Houston, by the way, I think is one of the most underrated cities in America. So that’s how I ended up in Houston.

Chad Franzen  2:30  

What is it about Houston that you like?

Alli Jarrett  2:33  

Well, it is it’s the most multicultural city and in the United States, when I was determining where to live, I could have lived in one of 10 or 12 big cities that had an airport because I’ve traveled a lot when I worked for the USGA running national championships, and managing a number of states. And what I like so much about Houston is the people are nice. Number one, it’s hot, and I like a warm climate. I’m not a windshield scraper. And in really those are it was easy to get home to South Carolina, you can fly home in two hours and I could be home and you know pretty quickly. So,

Chad Franzen  3:11  

okay, sounds good. So you said you you grew up in kind of a family owned business. What attracted you to the restaurant industry that

Alli Jarrett  3:19 

yeah, so Well, Harold started out it wasn’t really supposed to be solely a restaurant. You know, like you do and creating businesses. Sometimes things don’t work out. And so Herald’s are renovating this building that’s over 100 years old now. And the original concept was to have a neighborhood market and retail store on the first floor, called the Heights Heneral Store at Harold’s, and then our main route our method restaurant is up on the second level, which still is here today with a rooftop terrace and the name Harold comes from its heralds in the Heights, he was a Harold was a Clothier for 62 years dress three presidents so this was a historic place in the neighborhood. And what brought me to doing this multi concept really was how I grew up. We grew up eating around the table with with our family, serving others, and then certainly I had a retail component background with all the stuff that didn’t work unfortunately. And so my love of bringing people together around food and drink and it was what attracted me to had to do the multi concept.

Chad Franzen  4:27  

How tell me about the restaurant itself. What could a customer expect when he or she goes there?

Alli Jarrett  4:33  

Yeah, so I call us we’re, we’re snappy casual. So we do business we say we know our farmers we don’t call ourselves farm to table because you know, we know who the eggman is we know who our higher produce supplier is with Atkinson farm so you can come here and expect handcrafted food. That is that is used with ingredients that are as fresh and local as possible. You can’t get everything that way. But we do our best. And so you know, you can expect good you know, good southern cooking and with some, some wonderful cocktails to go along with that and that there are a lot of fun and a relaxed place where you can have a good time with your friends and family dining out and but in in a pretty simple environment in general,

Chad Franzen  5:24  

how did you kind of develop that concept?

Alli Jarrett  5:28  

Well, it’s just hospitality and what I have is what I know. So I knew nothing you know about restaurant per se, except for my time with the USGA and managing and helping managing manage different things around championships and food and beverage and certainly just the love for cooking. But the putting putting together a team of people that have like-minded philosophies on on service and on hospitality is critical and how I view everything because we have to have hospitality. That’s how I was born and raised and it’s just a part of the threads of who I am and of serving others and so we try to do our best doing that with with food and beverages and making feel comfortable and no one our guests by name.

Chad Franzen  6:18  

How did the name Harold’s come about?

Alli Jarrett  6:21  

Yeah, so that was from the clothing store. So Harold and Wiesenthal and his brother Milton and their father. It was called Harold’s in the Heights for 62 years and he was a custom tailor. In fact, we have a lot of his pictures on the walls he dressed three presidents in their inaugural suits have a super fun picture of him putting a coat on Earl Campbell, the NFL football player he had a love for golf like me in and so we have a lot of fun fun photos of of the golfers and professional golfers that he dressed throughout the years. So that’s how it came about. And we kept that name and I always I lived in the Heights I’ve lived in Heights when I moved to Houston I’ve lived in this neighborhood for for over 20 years now and in the Heights just reminds me of home so we’re on a place called 19th street and it’s kind of a historic shopping district area and it’s kind of like Main Street where I grew up except it doesn’t have a courthouse on it and so I feel like it’s you know a small town and a big city and and really love that and so in keeping with the neighborhood and honoring what’s happened before here we kept the name and some original signs and and so we could keep keep calling Harold Harold’s

Chad Franzen  7:42  

what were the How long ago did you open Harold’s

Alli Jarrett  7:45  

we opened up November the eighth 2013 And it took a solid year to renovate this place to do what we did and adding a you know a second a rooftop terrace there was always a second floor but but we had to create a terrace and so I learned a lot about construction and in remodeling that that I didn’t have knowledge in and that amazes me today some of the things that are in my brain from that experience.

Chad Franzen  8:14  

What were some of the after you got all that done and you open to the restaurant what were the early days like?

Alli Jarrett  8:20  

Well, the early days you know we’re we had the retail store down downstairs and a pizza oven, the pizza oven still downstairs and and then the main restaurant was upstairs and it really upstairs hasn’t really changed we have a fun dining room, although on the walls of our dining room is it’s wood from an 1800s Cotton barn from South Carolina. Interestingly enough, our tables are made out of that same wood from a local artists that are have a better finished and this really cool substance. And then we have a rooftop terrace. We also have a private dining room with our main kitchen up upstairs. And then you know so the early days for Harold’s upstairs are really pretty much the same downstairs is what has changed. Now we have a super cool long shotgun bar. That is called our tap room. The reason it was called the tap room not because we have all this beer on tap. We do have beer on tap or craft beer. But also we have wine on tap. And we also have cocktails on tap. So that was that was why it was called that. And so so we’ve continued to pivot along and along and try to find the right formula.

Chad Franzen  9:35  

Would you say your operations have changed at all or did it start out running smoothly and continue?

Alli Jarrett  9:42  

Oh no, we’ve we’ve had to change a lot. We’ve We’ve definitely my dad has a saying you got to gauge change and rearrange and we have done that. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this guy in Houston named mattress Mac his name Jim and bail but he owns a furniture store and I think half the time Our staff feels like they work at Gallery Furniture because we’re always moving something around.

Chad Franzen  10:05  

Yeah. What are you most proud of? What’s it what’s kind of the your proudest moments and what was a big contributor to you getting there?

Alli Jarrett  10:12  

I’m proud, I probably don’t think about that enough, I guess. But I think mostly that creating an environment for for our staff and guests to be able to be able to come here and eat and dine with with good honest food and, and be who they are for us to be a fabric of this neighborhood and the community, and everything that we do in the community, because we offer a lot of different support, which was one of the things that I wanted to do, and getting back to my roots of a family business, like I grew up in. And so I think, you know, I’m most we’ve made it eight and a half years. So Chad, that’s a big deal right now. And, and so we we keep pushing, and certainly appreciate all of the support that I received from from family and friends and, and in our real dedicated staff members that we have here at at Herald

Chad Franzen  11:11  

part of that eight and a half years included a pandemic, how did how did COVID kind of impact or change or affect you guys that would herald?

Alli Jarrett  11:19  

Yeah, COVID. You know, I said to somebody recently, Chad, we, you know, we’re used to hurricanes and, and a lot of water and things like that. And with that, you know, that the waters going to recede. And with COVID, it’s, you know, it’s not been like that, it’s kind of been one thing after another. At one point, I think I felt like I could have worked for the SBA, I was attending so many seminars, but what it did do was, it brought us closer together, in general, and when we, when we quickly, you know, implemented doing business a different way, when you’re forced to shut down and we started our, you know, delivery service, my dining room manager and our, you know, out delivering, and one thing that we learned from the notes that we were getting from our guests that were writing us notes and saying, Please tell everybody, hello, was, is that if we weren’t here, that we would be missed. And that was very humbling and gratifying at the same time to know that, that our guests really did that they really do care about us, and we care about them. And so, you know, we still push through the issues that are causing havoc to all small businesses. No one throughout the pandemic has been left on touch, either emotionally, physically, or financially, someone has had something happen in some regard. And so you know, we try to stay above the line and and do the best we can do every single day and use our resources wisely and change things that we’ve done with technology, and try to try to try to try to work more efficiently and more effectively. And at the same time know that we’re not robots and that we are that we are here and human beings to, to serve our guests and to please our guests and also be the guest of one another.

Chad Franzen  13:15  

You’re also the President, as I mentioned in your intro of a seafood restaurant called low tide. Tell me about that.

Alli Jarrett  13:21  

Yeah, so low tide is a is a brand that we started off in a in a food hall and, and it the it was it was downtown. And unfortunately, most things downtown and most downtown’s throughout the United States of America did not do very well during the pandemic so we temporarily closed that and had been looking for a spot for quite some time and we have a spot now we’ve actually are we’re just getting ready to announce that we’ve not even announced it yet. So but but we are going to be taken low tide to reopening it. And super excited about that. But that brand really comes from how I grew up crabbing and creaking and fishing. In Pawleys Island South Carolina where where you you caught what you ate and so we are offering affordable not only seafood but we’ll have to have chicken and burgers as well but affordable seafood and and that where it’s it’s good and fresh and but doesn’t break the bank where you can bring your family every week to eat if you want to and not have to pay you know quite as high price like you would here at Harold’s for a piece of that that fresh flounder or fresh golf fish whatever it might be. So looking to really you know dive into the neighborhoods that we’re going to be in with low tide and excited about getting that back you know back up and running because it was a bummer to be temporarily closed and just looking forward to creating more jobs and making people happy again there with with food and beverages

Chad Franzen  14:58  

did low tide come about out For Harold’s or before after Harold,

Alli Jarrett  15:02  

it came after Harold. Yes, I did it it kind of come about just you know the the opportunity to be I’d wanted to do a different a second concept and in trying to grow and you know I mentioned I went through the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small businesses program and right when I got out of that actually is when Hurricane Harvey hit and so you know, you’re you’re coming out really hard with your growth plan and everything that you’re trying to do and and Harvey was a bit of a setback and all that then we had we had an opportunity to be a part of a food hall downtown and was just super excited about it and still still love fan Hall and, and won’t I know they’re getting back up and they’re back up and running with with their with different vendors in there. And so it wasn’t it was a neat chance to try to test the brand before we started growing the brand. And so you know, we are where we are and and look forward to, to keeping that ball in the air and moving it forward.

Chad Franzen  16:08  

Okay, sounds good. How can people find out more information about everything you’ve got going on?

Alli Jarrett  16:13  

Well, I’m at Harold’s, our website is Harold And we’re located in the heart of the Heights on 19th. Street. Low tad we’re in the middle of of changing changing some of that and our website is going to be called Low tide kitchen and bar. And our our our reopened location is going to be in in spring branch which is just about I don’t know if five, seven or eight miles just west of here where we are at at Harold’s and so we’re also on you know, social media, you can can follow us there. And we certainly appreciate that on all the different social media channels.

Chad Franzen  16:53  

Okay, sounds great. Last question for you. When you go to Herald’s, what would you say is kind of your go to item

Alli Jarrett  17:01  

here at Harold’s? I have um, I’m partial to our shrimp and grits. We use fresh Gulf shrimp that is wrapped in bacon. And our grits come from the grist mill and Waco, Texas. They’re stone ground grits and they’re given a lot of love. And we have a really good sauce that goes on it. It’s made just with a little bit of what’s your shower, similar to a New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp sauce that’s on it. And so that’s my go to dish here. I absolutely love it. It’s actually a gluten free dish too. You don’t think of things like that being that way. But it is. And but yeah, just it’s a it’s a very comforting dish for me of how I grew up. But I think it’s a little better than than what we had growing up.

Chad Franzen  17:50  

Hey, it sounds great. Sounds great. Thank you so much for your time today. Oh, it’s great. It’s been great to talk to you.

Alli Jarrett  17:56  

Yeah, well, sure. Do. Appreciate it. Chad. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to be on your show.

Chad Franzen  18:01  

Thank you so long, everybody.

Outro  18:02  

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