What does it take to lead successful brands like Red Robin, Torchy’s Tacos, California Pizza Kitchen, and Texas Roadhouse? G.J. Hart, current CEO of Red Robin, breaks it down for us, stressing the importance of remaining true to the essence of the brand while testing changes to keep it attractive to customers. G.J.’s insights are a treasure trove for anyone involved in the restaurant business so tune in and hear about his extensive experience and knowledge.
What is the most important aspect of guest experience nowadays?
“This is more holistic in view. The way I describe it is that in order to do an incredible job for someone in a restaurant today is that every single team member treats the guest that walks in the door, from the time they hit that door or even before they hit the door, like they’re coming into your home and you give that experience. If you take the mindset of if you were bringing someone or inviting someone to dinner at your home, what would you do? How would you plan for it? What would you think about? What would you wear? How do you address all the things that you do when you do something in your own home? To me, the ultimate guest experience is to be able to create that environment.“
What are some successful tactics to improve the guest experience?
“We’ve been working on our hospitality model and we’ve spent a tremendous amount of time going back to sort of the classic hospitality in the world that I come from. We were using a hybrid team approach at Red Robin and I think that sounds great when everything is working and everybody’s there. But going back to having a server have less tables and can give more attention to those tables is going to work.”
Who deserves an Ovation in the restaurant industry?
1. Hillstone Restaurant Group
“They’ve been around forever and I admire them. They do incredible work, they’re super consistent and they know what they do really well. They’re on it and I don’t know that I’ve ever been to one of their restaurants and it’s been disappointing.”
2. Texas Roadhouse
“Granted, I was there for a long period of time and was a part of growing that brand, but they do an incredible job of really making every guest feel important and they do that by maintaining three table sections and they do it really really well. “