The Daily Prep Exclusive
Q: You have so much going on today with your restaurants, books, and TV shows. As busy as you are, how do you manage your time to keep all your enterprises and brands running day to day?
A: You’re right, there’s a lot going on and I’m lucky to be able to say that. But let me tell you, coming from the restaurant business, this is the kind of busy that we all want to have. And just like in a restaurant, it’s all about having a great team in place to make it all happen. When I work hard, my team works hard and all of our partners work hard toward the same goal or goals, we have a winning recipe.
Q: You have quietly shown up in many communities to help feed people during natural disasters or a time of need… What inspires you to do this?
A: You know, I’d say it’s more of an instinct than anything else. I don’t really sit around and weigh out the pros and cons of where/when/what, etc. I’ve just always been drawn to those who need a little help and be able to provide a fresh, hot meal to folks in a time of need is a great honor. If I’ve got the resources to give people a little boost, I’m all about it.
Q: As you see it, what are the biggest challenges the restaurant industry is facing right now?
A: We all know that the restaurant business is a tough one and right now is no different. It’s still a great business and one that I couldn’t be more proud to have come from, but we do all need to be honest and look at the challenges. Razor-thin profit margins, ever-evolving consumer preferences, changes in technology, government regulation, all things that affect our ability to maintain healthy businesses. Most restaurateurs will tell you about how tough it is to find good employees in this full employment environment and couple that with wage minimums, labor is a killer. But restaurant people are as creative and dynamic as anyone out there so we continue to fight on and discover ways to make it all happen. I’m a restaurant guy. I’m a grinder. And I have faith that those who really want it can stay the course and make it happen. Sure, with rising rents, you may want to skip the downtown dream restaurant and focus on a suburban market. You might forgo white tablecloths and get into the fast casual sector. Maybe you run a truck instead a of brick and mortar. Whatever it is, my advice to restaurateurs is to arm yourself with information, use it to your advantage and build a business plan that’s based on the current environment, not some old school, outdated model that worked 20 years ago. If you have a solid plan and a well-executed product, you have the recipe and opportunity for success.
Q: Your concepts are omni-present in the Hollywood Burbank Airport – an appropriate presence given your recent induction onto the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Now we are hearing about a new Guy Fieri concept, The Chick Guy. Tell us about that.
A: Oh yeah, we love the Hollywood Burbank Airport. With our partners there, we started with the idea of a Guy’s Burger Joint to give travelers the option of a hot, fresh meal in Terminal A. People loved it right out of the gate. That particular airport has a lot of business commuters so we then moved onto Guy’s Sammich Joint where guests could grab a cold sandwich or a salad, something a little bit more manageable and less likely to drip onto your tie. Next came the Highball Lounge, next to the Burger Joint…who doesn’t want a cold beer or even a little Pappy Van Winkle with their burger? And then the most recent concept there in Terminal B is a scaled down version of my Vegas Kitchen+Bar, Guy’s Burbank Kitchen+Bar Express. And, while it says ‘Express’ in the name, let me tell you, it’s full scale and you’ve got everything from simple breakfast items, my signature Trash Can Nachos, killer wings and of course, a full bar.
And yes, Chicken Guy! is a new concept that I’m really stoked on. We’re doing chicken tenders and sandwiches right — fresh, never frozen, hand-breaded with a choice of 22 house-made sauces ranging from Bourbon Brown Sugar BBQ to Nashville Hot to Peri Peri to Curry. We’ve been open just over a year at Disney Springs in Orlando and just opened at the Aventura Mall in Miami. We’re rolling at FedEx Field, home of the Redskins, as well as Levi’s Stadium where the 49ers play. We’ve got another 20 or so in the pipeline opening this year and I’m really excited about the future of this brand.
The bird is the word!