Restaurant success can come from many paths, and for Tilman Fertitta , that path has lead to riches.
Tilman is the CEO, Chairman and sole owner of the Landry's Inc, an American hospitality company that owns the likes of the Golden Nugget hotel chain, Rainforest Café, Morton’s Steakhouse, and BC’s own The Boathouse.
He is the world’s richest restaurant owner, at an estimated $5.6 billion USD (Forbes, 2022) and has achieved the American dream; he’s a self made billionaire.
TIlman got his start in the hospitality industry, peeling shrimp at his father’s restaurant, but you could say business is in his blood.
Tilman's cousins co-own Stations Casinos and are the former owners of the UFC; his grandfather ran a legendary nightclub; and his father owned and operated a seafood restaurant in his hometown of Galveston.
Fast forward and Tilman now owns over 600 properties in 36 states, and over 50 brands.
At 23, he took out a loan and opened a 160 room hotel, which he sold to buy a majority stake in Landry’s; which was then used to be a single seafood restaurant. From then, he has bought failing businesses on the verge of bankruptcy, and flipped them into thriving fortunes.
So how has Tilman Fertitta been so successful in his ventures? We’ve uncovered found 3 aspects that are key to his success in becoming the worlds richest restaurant owner.
95% of perfect isn’t enough for Fertitta. He doesn’t see the perfectness of his business, rather he looks for the 5% that could be better. It’s the details that matter; 95% of everything could be perfect, but there is always 5% wrong, whether it’s the cigarette butts in a hotel parking lot, or a burnt light bulb in the lobby. The key is to look at your restaurant and focus on the 5% and make them right. When you’re in constant motion of improving your business, little details can be overlooked, but they do have an impact.
Fertitta stresses the importance of knowing the numbers of your business. Often, restaurant owners don’t know what their numbers are, and they don’t understand what their numbers are telling them.
You have to know the operations side, you have to know the sales and marketing side and you better know the numbers and financial side. If you only know one or two of those, you’re going to be unsuccessful. - Tilman Fertitta
When you know your numbers, you’ll know your business. Your numbers will tell you your sales, food cost and labor margins. If you don’t know or understand these numbers on your restaurant reports, it could be detrimental to your business. Your numbers allow you to analyze the problems of your business and see if things are profitable or not.
Fertitta is resilient, he’s been in business for over 25 years, and acknowledges he has made mistakes, but he holds his head high for one reason: he never gave up. Often, business professionals take constant signs of failure as a means of defeat. For Fertitta, even in the face of bankruptcy, he still prevailed. The key is to stay hungry and have high standards. Fertitta takes calculated risks, surrounds himself with people who know how to do things he doesn't, and focuses on the bigger picture.
The mountain of skills that he has, he has honed to excel at. In other words, the things he knows how to do, he does well. He’s meticulous, detail orientated, and efficient - all values that he puts into his businesses. Since his acquisition of Landry’s, he has purchased a multitude of restaurants, and slowly transformed Landry’s into the monster hospitality group it is today.
Launching and growing a restaurant is hard work - but running your operations doesn't have to be! To increase your chances at becoming a rich restaurant owner, be sure to choose a system that helps you streamline your operations, and saves you money money so you can scale quickly, and powerfully, like Tilman!
“In the labor numbers, we were reporting about a $300 to $400 difference than what we were getting through Push!”
-Tara Hardie, ZZA Hospitality Group, 16 locations