What brought you to Tallahassee and got you to stay here?
We moved here in 2007 so I could join The Zimmerman Agency. I had seven great years there and then opened Madison Social in August, 2013. There was never an intent to leave Tallahassee as we loved raising our kids here. I still remember walking my kids to school at Kate Sullivan when they were younger and that is something I would have rarely done in Orlando (where we are from).
How has Tallahassee grown over the years?
I tend to look at our industry when asked this. When we started in in 2013, Trip Advisor had roughly 300-350 restaurants. Pre COVID there were over 600 with what now appears to be 500-550. There was no Bannerman Crossings, less options in midtown/downtown, and CollegeTown was just getting started along with a revamped Tennessee street. There are just so many options for a consumer to choose from and that is a good thing.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen so far?
Well, got to go with COVID. Never in my life have I experienced something that shook every business discipline to the core such as COVID. Accounting, legal, human resources, marketing, and operations were all throttled at one time and to be honest it was a bit overwhelming.
How do you balance managing for the table and being chair at Flagler?
I love teaching. I always loved it since I was a teaching assistant at FSU. My program is at night so that is helpful with the timing aspect and then we have a great For The Table team that is day to day in the trenches so it is a pretty good marriage between the two.
What’s next for you?
The focus right now is recovering from COVID. Total revenue for the portfolio from March 2020 to June 2020 was down over 50% YOY so we need to keep fighting to build back those revenues. Some of that is just going to take time as people get more comfortable, regulations change, etc. We are excited about Charlie Park— our rooftop venue at the Marriott AC in Cascades— opening up in Q1 2021 but, again, that is a little more immediate.
How are you getting through these trying times?
The only way I know how— marketing and innovation. Personally one thing that helped me was to delete Twitter off my phone, check social media a little less, and head off to Montana all of July. Montana is my happy place so being able to spend so much time out west really helped reconnect with myself, wife, and kids. I still worked each day, but I did so with a pretty awesome view.
What’s your capital city pedicab connection?
I always say Mike is the hardest working guy I have ever seen. A true hustler. Also, I take a pedicab every home game back to my car. I especially like the party cabs with the music.