The restaurant industry is in my blood. My dad had an English pub called the Ram Pub where guests would cook their own burgers at the table. From a very young age, I started working there doing odd jobs like scraping gum off restaurant tables and cleaning beer draft lines. I learned so much from my dad and being in a restaurant during those formative years and it’s really a full circle moment that 30-plus years later I’m back in the burger business with Hopdoddy.
Since joining the Hopdoddy team in 2016, I’ve focused on building a best-in-class leadership team, maintaining our position as a pioneer in the better burger space and driving menu innovation through our Burger of the Month program, all while achieving category-leading financial results. Today, we have 35-plus locations throughout Texas, Tennessee, Colorado, Arizona, and California, with plans to open in Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana by the end of 2022.
The future for Hopdoddy looks tremendous. Most recently, I was named CEO of HiBar Hospitality, a growth-focused umbrella company owned by L Catterton. Through HiBar, we completed our first acquisition of Grub Burger Bar—a strategic move based on the synergies of both concepts. We’re converting almost all the Grub locations to Hopdoddy restaurants, and that will get our restaurant count to more than 50 and bring us into some new markets and states. I’m continuously looking for additional growth opportunities through mergers, acquisitions, and new restaurant openings.
What was your very first job?
Aside from gum-scraping duty at my dad’s restaurant while growing up, my first paid job was pumping gasoline at a boat marina in the Pacific Northwest.
What’s your favorite menu item at Hopdoddy?
That’s a tough one. While the Hopdoddy menu offers a ton of great options, lots of different proteins and really innovative burger builds, I have to say our Classic Cheeseburger is my favorite. I’m a pretty straightforward guy, and I love how we highlight the art of simplicity with high-quality ingredients.
What’s your favorite cuisine aside from Hopdoddy?
Even before moving to Texas, Mexican food has always been one of my favorite cuisines, and living in Austin, even more so. I could eat it every day.
Who inspires you as a leader?
While there are lots of great leaders in our industry and others who I admire and look to for guidance, my father is my biggest inspiration. He’s a great restaurateur, entrepreneur and the definition of a human-centric leader. He has been a true inspiration and mentor to me.
What’s the best piece of advice that other restaurant executives should hear?
Be open-minded to change but stay fanatically protective of your brand and what it means. And don’t forget this is a people-focused business. If you succeed in the people business, you’ll succeed in the restaurant business.
What are some of your interests outside of work?
I like to spend time outdoors and going fast. Whether it’s on a boat, going on a leisurely drive or flying through the air, I love the adrenaline rush. Being with my family and friends is also incredibly important to me