Creating a restaurant concept is like directing a movie, says Jody Pennette, CEO of Cb5 Restaurant Group.
"I'll write the script.
The chef is the star," he
"Even if we write the menu, he
still performs it."
The company has created more than 55 concepts.
Each is completed in about 90 days by a team of industry experts.
is held up by construction delays, but the company tries to "hit the ground running," Pennette
The company brings training trailers onsite so staff can be trained independently of construction.
"It's kind of like a boot camp for waiters and traveling kitchens," Pennette
is unique because it's "not one person's vision.
The name comes from a children's book featuring five Chinese Brothers, each with a different talent.
"Together, they were invincible," Pennette
"I'm not a chef but I understand restaurant dynamics.
needed people who understood the different components of creating a successful concept, such as wine, design and the perspective of a chef.
"Together, all these elements and good pedigrees are tough to beat."
amazed the company has been able to attract such a strong team.
"Based on travel requirements and time away from home, it's tough to even maintain a gold fish working for us," he
"We spend about 300 days on the road a year."
But the company is able to "attract hardcore restaurant people," because it offers them a rare opportunity to feel they've finished their job, he
"It's a moving target when you build a restaurant," Pennette
"Otherwise, it's like handing a Lamborghini over to a guy who works on Chevys," Pennette
"Even though both are cars, performance is much more important in a more precious venue.
"At the same time, we try to eliminate volatility by eliminating the dependence upon one individual," he
says there is no one "big thing" that makes a restaurant a success.
"It's about balancing menu, aesthetic [and] architecture with the waiter script, the lighting, etc., and tying all these messages together to form a specific point of view or attitude.
This creates a strong personality and is easily telegraphed to the marketplace."
This approach works well in the hotel industry, Pennette
works with hotels to reinvent their restaurants and is dedicated to this niche.
"Hotels are not used to making money in restaurants," he