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In today’s episode of Hospitality Hangout, Schatzy, “The Restaurant Guy,” and Jimmy Frischling, “The Finance Guy,” are joined by George McKerrow, CEO of Ted’s Montana Grill.

George pioneered the casual dining segment with LongHorn Steakhouse, which he founded in 1981 and eventually took public. He later partnered with Ted Turner to bring bison meat mainstream at Ted’s Montana Grill. Now CEO of Ted’s, George reflects on lessons learned over his long career launching concepts and delighting guests.

Key Takeaways:

  • Introducing George McKerrow, CEO at Ted’s Montana Grill, talking about opening the first ever LongHorn Steakhouse in 1981 and founding Ted’s in January 2002.
  • George reminisces about his journey from starting as a gas station attendant at 16 to becoming a key figure in the restaurant industry, including the pivotal deal he made with Ted Turner.
  • Nation’s Restaurant News credited George with birthing the entire casual dining segment and transforming LongHorn Steakhouse into a renowned establishment known for its honky-tonk atmosphere, quality cuisine, and genuine hospitality.
  • Schatzy and George discuss bartending, career progression in the food industry, and the three crucial lessons George has learned in hospitality leadership: financial management, hiring exceptional talent, and navigating restaurant unpredictability.
  • George highlights the democratization of the restaurant industry and the career opportunities it offers.
  • Emphasizing the importance of providing compelling reasons for people to dine out, George discusses the rise of experiential restaurants and smaller dining spaces.
  • Leveraging technology in labor management is essential in meeting the evolving needs and expectations of guests, emphasizing the importance of meeting guests where they’re at.
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