Tavern Hospitality Group Origins
This company takes a unique approach to being unique.
Tim Hudon started cooking in restaurants as soon as he was allowed to. Today, he’s VP of Food and Beverage for Tavern Hospitality Group, one of the Denver area’s most prestigious F&B empires. With six concepts and 14 locations, Hudon says: “No two are alike.”
Food + drink + events is a winning formula for THG’s expansion. Also, specially designed neighborhood locations create appeal for a wide range of customers, from young singles to families. Another important part of the company’s strategy is separate but synergistic operations. For example, Tavern Downtown is adjacent to THG’s Cowboy Lounge, a drinks-only country-rock venue. The Soiled Dove Underground sits below Tavern Lowry – another instance where a bar/music focus and food focus complement one another, with benefits for customers and for this family-owned company. What else makes Tavern Hospitality Group one of a kind?
Readers will want to check out your full range of concepts online, but touch on the newest, Otra Vez Cantina.
TH: “Otra Vez” means “again” or “another time” in Spanish. We felt that could be interpreted as “another round.” It opened in March 2017, and is a high-energy Mexican bar/restaurant, with a street-side patio and private banquet area. It also features the Mezcal Lounge on the second level overlooking the main floor. Our culinary team put a lot of time and effort into designing a menu that infused traditional dishes with our own personal twists; Street Tacos sell like crazy. We also created an extensive and unique tequila-heavy beverage program. And we brought in a designer from Austin to create a fun atmosphere with cool design elements, including custom murals by local artists.
The primary owner, Frank Schultz, believes appealing décor and business longevity go together. How so?
TH: Frank’s motto is “Go big or go home.” He believes in investing in design. Incorporating high-end architectural and design features results in a stronger ROI. We aren’t like a lot of restaurants that are hot one day and stay open for only a few years. We’re in it for the long run, so quality is paramount. It makes an impression on people when they walk in the door, which hopefully translates into loyal guests.
An extensive banquet menu, self-styled “eclectic appetizers”: Tell us a little more.
TH: We’ve really become known for our banquets, and we take pride in the fact that people don’t expect us to put on the show we do. Very diverse groups have their events with us, from baby showers to family celebrations all the way to very large corporate events. Banquet menus closely reflect our regular menus but also provide many niche items specially designed for large gatherings. Tavern appetizers are diverse, ranging from classic beef sliders and buffalo cauliflower to Asian lettuce wraps and pork wings. The variety appeals to our guests.
THG advertises assistance with “all your event service needs,” even audio/video. Does that help win customers?
TH: Private events bring in a lot of revenue, so they’re very important to us. And since we know food amounts in advance, food waste is reduced, compared to a la carte service. Bonus! We want guests to have great experiences with their events, because our hope is that they’ll book repeat business and refer us to friends. Part of creating that positive experience is having Event Managers throughout the planning process who can help with all event needs and take pressure off the clients.
What marketing efforts have worked especially well?
TH: We’ve found that to be successful and get our messages in front of the most people, we need to utilize multiple outlets. Social media is one of the most successful ways to market for a restaurant/bar. It’s free and has a wide reach. You just have to be on top of it and very active on multiple platforms or you might as well not do it at all. Being constantly engaged and responsive to posts, questions and comments is hard to do, but vital. We also have plenty of in-house opportunities including websites, ad screens, table tents, fliers, eblasts, etc.
Specialty items: You trust Shamrock Foods to “have it.”
TH: We use many small batch items that are not readily available. Roy Van Hilten, our Sales Representative, and Shamrock Foods are very reactive to finding the specialty products we need and stocking items just for us. And I really appreciate that they have a specialty meat company (Gold Canyon Meat Co.) in the family. Quality is high, product availability is vast and pricing is competitive. It makes it easy to not need a specialty vendor for meat.
Thinking of Roy makes you smile?
TH: Roy is the best Sales Rep I’ve ever met. Oftentimes he resolves issues before I even know they happened. He’s the epitome of “customer first.”
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