I get up about 7:30. If I have time, I try to get a workout in. I have a little gym in my house so I try to do some cardio. I usually get torn away to go downstairs to my office and answer e-mails. I get about 100 every day. I always have a lot of projects going on, so e-mail topics run the entire gamut: anything from new restaurant prospects to lease negotiations to architectural issues to menu issues.
Because I founded the company, I am interested in every aspect of how the food goes on the plate. Obviously, I have people that specialize in most areas but I have my hand in everything.
I usually throw on jeans and a sweatshirt for work. That's my usual business attire. I recently moved to a home office in Newport Beach. We turned my office at corporate into a conference room. I try to get to the corporate office twice a week. Most of my work is on the computer and the phone, though, so it isn't necessary that I be there everyday.
After spending time on e-mail and the phone in my home office, I might move onto my music.
Every day I create a play list of songs to be used at all Yard House restaurants. I have a library of about 5,000 songs that I pull from. I come up with a list that plays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, a list that plays till 6 for happy hour, a dinner set, and a late night set.
Altogether the lists need to be 15-and-a-half hours long every day. I change the order around and I create moods in the restaurants on different nights with music. You could come in and it may be classic rock, '80s, or blues playing. It's my job to pair the songs together like wine and food so they have some relation to one another. It's deeper than just music; it's playing songs together that gives additional dimension to the restaurant.
During the course of the day, I'm a multi-tasker. I've got the music going on and I'm raising capital for the company. We currently have over 100 investors in the Yard House. Every quarter I have to write a letter for those investors tying together all of the financial data on the company for them. I do all my own typing and letter correspondence. I can type over 120 words per minute.
I get a sales report every day, so I check to see how every store is doing compared to one another and compared to the market. I probably spend one hour on the industry as a whole keeping my ear to the ground and listening for new trends. Every few weeks I create a kind of report card on Yard House.
I also try to position it for acquisitions. I'm always looking for interested parties who want to merge with us. Business is strategic, like a chess game.
I try to break for lunch and go out; if not, I stay at home and eat. I work until 5 or 6. I do try to make it to all of the restaurants in the area at least once a month.
I just walk in as a guest and see what it's like from a customer perspective. I sit at the bar, order a drink, and see how people look when they walk in the door and how they respond to our service. I visit the Irvine location most frequently.
On a weeknight after work, I usually go to other local restaurants with friends to see what is going on there. Again, it's keeping my ear to the industry.
It's hard for me to walk into a restaurant and just enjoy myself because I try to analyze everything they do in terms of food preparation, staff, service, menus, and lighting; I'm keeping us current.
I go to bed between midnight and one. "
As told to Sarah Filus
Founder and Owner
Yard House Restaurant Chain
Long Beach, Pasadena
Favorite Dishes on the Menu: Wings, Chilean Sea Bass and Korean Ribs
First Restaurant: Kailua in Denver, named after his hometown in Hawaii; owned about 10 restaurants before Yard House
Weekend Getaway: "I go to my house in the desert on Lake Havasu. I have a 38-foot fountain there."
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