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Mel Johnson Professional Employer Consultant and Contributor on the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston) recently interviewed Co-Owner, Lance Fegan of Liberty Kitchen. Lance who previously owned The Glass Wall (no longer affiliated with him) is currently partners with BRC, Liberty Kitchens’ & Oyster Bar, Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette and Petite Sweets.

What was the first location you open?

BRC! That’s going on 4 years now. We opened that in April 2010 with 3 other partners Lee, Carl, and Will. Next was Liberty Kitchen which started the same year but took about a year and a half to open. Then Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette which is the location on San Felipe. That didn’t take much time because the restaurant used to be a Mexican restaurant. Petite Sweets, which is our dessert shop that we sale retail but wholesale our cakes and pies to each restaurants. We will have a restaurant opening soon in Garden Oaks then one in Austin.

How do you stay competitive with new restaurants opening around your locations?

When we talk to our managers and employees we talk about a high standard of service because that will negate new restaurants but at the same time you have to be defensive in this type of environment. Even though a new restaurant may fail, another will take its place so you have to fight that off. Also, even though we sometimes share the same customer, our customer doesn’t want a $1 beer they want a good crafted beer. Now they may not want a $50 steak but they want a great $20 steak.

What do you contribute to the success and longevity?

We are always growing as a company and we have a strong corporate background. We will never stop growing as a company. Our website changes and we are always looking for new ways to extend our brand. Another point is looking for newer ways to hire our staff which is very difficult in the restaurant industry. From what I’ve seen and heard,  we do really well at paying our employees because we believe in retention.

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

I think it’s when we find those employees that just “get it” and you think O! this guy is going to be so freaking  awesome in 5 years we’re going to have a hard time keeping him. What I remember now is what my boss told me many many years ago when I worked at the Houstonian was “stop doing it yourself, and train people to do your job”

What’s next for the Liberty brand

We have some ideas in the works. The Liberty brand is hot so there’s talk of spin-offs and other things that are in the works.

For more information visit http://www.libertykitchenoysterbar.com/

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