The Over-the-Top Strategy That Is Creating Lifelong Customers for This Restaurant Group Patrick Barrett and Tim Whitlock of Mastro's Restaurants discuss elevated dining experiences, the importance of responding to customer feedback, and share their advice for hospitality hopefuls.

By Shawn P. Walchef

Key Takeaways

  • At Mastro’s Restaurants, hospitality means going “over the top”. Over the top with food. Over the top with presentation. Over the top with service.
  • Restaurant owners need to make time to gather customer feedback, respond to it and learn from it.
  • Young entrepreneurs should constantly be seeking new information on their industry.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

To give customers the ultimate hospitality experience, you have to go over the top. That's according to Patrick Barrett and Tim Whitlock of Mastro's Restaurants.

Visiting Mastro's Restaurants is not just a culinary adventure. Dining at Mastro's Steakhouse, their Ocean Club, or any other location means you will be treated to, yes, great steaks, seafood and drinks. But it also means you will be treated like a VIP.

Mastro's believes in creating "Guests for Life" — people who are so loyal to the Mastro's brand that they will be patrons forever. The company does this by fostering a positive and supportive environment for everyone.

Employees are not just hired, but trained, rewarded, and developed. Staff are continuously improving and growing within the company, building a thriving community.

The reason the Mastro's brand continues to be held in such high regard is because of their consistency. When guests dine there, they know they will receive a top-quality experience from the minute they step inside.

Along with their famous two-foot-tall Seafood Tower, Mastro's is also known for exceptional aged USDA Prime steaks and craft cocktails presented with dramatic flair (and a cloud of dry ice).

The service is also a star.

"We'd like to know what your favorite drink is. We like to know how you like it, and we will make sure that it's served that way. We want to make sure that your experience is over the top," says Tim Whitlock of Landry's, Inc. which owns Mastro's along with many other notable restaurant brands like Morton's The Steakhouse, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., and Joe's Crab Shack.

"You might have spent $500, but you're going to go, 'Wow, that was amazing.'"

Creating an upscale atmosphere with amazing service means listening to the wants and needs of guests at all times. That means being open to hearing criticism and feedback, no matter how pointed or harsh.

"Hopefully we have some form of getting their true contact, getting them on the phone, figuring out how we dropped the ball and the opportunity to make it right," explains Mastro's Restaurants Regional Vice President Patrick Barrett to Shawn Walchef of Cali BBQ Media.

"Then we invite them back in and hopefully show them the great experience that we're known for."

During his time moving up the ranks of the hospitality industry, Patrick Barrett said patience and education were two important skills he had to learn.

"There's always new wines, there's always new food. We have an Australian Wagyu on our menu now. That's $160 for a 16-ounce cut," he said. "There's always new things out there that I'm always learning about."

That's the best advice he can share for anyone wanting to improve their hospitality, remember you don't know everything — no matter how many years you have in the profession.

"If you think you know it all, it's not going to work for you."

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Shawn P. Walchef

Founder of Cali BBQ Media

“Be the show, not the commercial.”

Cali BBQ Media Founder Shawn Walchef helps brands and leaders leverage the new Business Creator Economy with strategic Smartphone Storytelling and Digital Hospitality.

His Cali BBQ restaurant company has generated more than $35 million since opening in 2008. They operate numerous locations in San Diego and beyond.

Shawn’s weekly video series Restaurant Influencers (published by Entrepreneur Media and produced by Cali BBQ Media) has been seen by over 25 million people.

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