In 1988, Sharon Watkins closed her Austin ad agency and purchased a defunct little dive, Chez Fred. Her vision was to combine the delectable delights of an old-world bakery with the convivial cuisine of an American-style bistro.
She kept the old restaurant’s sign, bought a vowel and a ‘Z’, and in 1989 the newly-christened Chez Zee opened its doors. Their whimsical restaurant has been charming Austin locals and winning awards ever since.
Favorite success quote or mantra:
"All they can do is say no."
In this episode with Sharon Watkins, we discuss:
- Why it is so valuable to know that the worst thing that will happen if you ask somebody for information or help, is that they could say, "No."
- What Sharon had going on before Chez Zee.
- Just saying "Yes" and figuring the rest out later.
- Know where you are in the restaurant lifecycle and responding appropriately. Know, that at any point in the life cycle of a restaurant, if you rest on your laurels it is game over.
- Why it is so important to not lose focus of the little things in your business.
- Being devoted to the numbers in your business. Track them. Know them. Do 13 accounting periods a year. Do an inventory once a week.
- Being conservative in your estimates.
- Energy, resilience and courage being best qualities to have in this industry.
- Tackling potential altercations from a place of curiosity. Come from a place of just trying to figure out why. Be polite. Get the answers. Do something with the new data.
- How Chez Zee continues to break sales records after 30 years of being open for business; just say yes; do what no one else is doing.
- How to build loyalty and stay relevant.
- The importance of an inspiring and physically sound vision.
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- Which "it factor" habit, trait, or characteristic you believe most contributes to your success?
- What is your biggest weakness?
- What's one question you ask or thing you look for during an interview?
- Do they smile?
- How much energy do they have?
- What's a current challenge? How are you dealing with it?
- Don' t focuses on getting new people focus on keeping the people you have.
- Share one code of conduct or behavior you teach your team.
- Act out of integrity all the time.
- What is one uncommon standard of service you teach your staff?
- What's one book we must read to become a better person or restaurant owner?
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- What's the one thing you feel restaurateurs don't know well enough or do often enough?
- Pay attention to the numbers.
- What's one piece of technology you've adopted within your four walls restaurant and how has it influence operations?
- If you got the news that you'd be leaving this world tomorrow and all memories of you, your work, and your restaurants would be lost with your departure with the exception of 3 pieces of wisdom you could leave behind for the good of humanity, what would they be?
- Be brave.
- B e strong.
- Be kind.
Thanks for listening!
Thanks so much for joining today! Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!
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Huge thanks to Sharon Watkins for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!
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