The recipe for success of the richest restaurateur of the world
It takes only 10 minutes from the beginning of the meeting, as Tilman Fertitta, having dealt with the first cup of coffee – one of many in the morning, decides, as usual, to bring the situation under control. I take out the tape recorder, and Fertitta immediately shifts him closer to me, to be able to stop recording at any time – which he does several times during the conversation. Noticing that on the other floor there are problems with light, Fertitta orders the passing employee to sort it out. The 55-year-old businessman has a low voice and a Texan accent. To the question about the first steps in business, he answers with reproach: “For me, this is already an upside down page. I hate to stir the past. ” Okay, back to this question later. “I always turn as I want,” the businessman laughs.
Most of the time Landry’s sole owner spends expanding the hotel and restaurant business. First of all, he is interested in problem objects – outdated or unprofitable hotels, restaurants, casinos and embankments, which can be bought at bargain prices, often – on sales of collateral.
Fertitta puts them in order. Dismisses top managers, closes unprofitable points, updates institutions. All assets are managed from Landry headquarters in Houston. “When we buy something, we cut off the head,” says Fertitta. – We leave the performers who need it – I really hate that word! – the leader. We ourselves are very good leaders. Immediately we begin to invest in employees, develop them. Everyone wants to be led. Except me. I want to be leading. ”
We drink coffee at the 24-hour school, named after Fertitta’s two eldest sons, Michael Patrick’s Brasserie. The restaurant is located in the Golden Nugget Hotel in Atlantic City – one of the recent acquisitions, in which he intends to breathe new life. Fertitta plans to watch the whole weekend with her 50-meter yacht at the opening ceremony of the renovated hotel, which will be attended by a whole army of stars, starting with Whoopi Goldberg. A deal in the spirit of Fertitta: in February 2011, he bought a casino and a hotel on the embankment from the bankrupt Trump Entertainment Resorts for $ 38 million. In 1985, Trump himself bought objects $ 282 million more expensive than Fertitt.
The real estate market in Atlantic City is going through hard times. But do not bet on the fact that Fertitta will lose: he, like no one else, can pull dollars out of the pockets of the rest. Fertitta is the richest restaurateur in the world and a great pro at making deals. Landry is a real machine that has crushed five public companies and countless smaller players. Fertitta’s largest deal is the purchase of all Landry shares in free float for $ 1.4 billion in October 2010. Moreover, its debt reached $ 700 million. Today, Fertitta is at the head of the company with revenues exceeding $ 2.5 billion a year. It owns 421 restaurants (all, with the exception of 10, operate under its own signboard) and 56 brands, the lion’s share of which is aimed at tourists.
As it turns out, you can earn money on mediocre food. According to Forbes, Fertitta’s fortune, which also owns Rolls ‑ Royce and Bentley dealerships, grows as its business expands and is at least $ 1.5 billion. “It acts as a direct investment fund, but invests its own money,” describes the strategy Fertitty CEO of investment bank Jefferies Rich Handler. In 2007, he helped a billionaire refinance Landry’s debt and became his close friend. “Tilman bought out Landry because the public markets would not allow him to invest in real estate as he saw fit,” Handler says. “He learned how to generate exceptional cash flows, which he constantly invests in the reconstruction and expansion of his real estate.” In January, Fertitta completed its first hostile takeover by purchasing McCormick & Schmick, a network of more than 90 restaurants, for $ 131.6 million. Loss-making establishments were soon closed. “I have never done anything like this before. He wanted to try, ”Fertitta laughs. “It turned out it didn’t hurt at all.” To me. They, yes, it was painful.
For cocky manners it is difficult to discern hospitality, but it is in the blood of Fertitt. His grandfather ran the legendary Balinese Room in Texas. In the 1940s, stars such as Frank Sinatra, the Marx brothers and Bob Hope performed there. My father owned a fish restaurant in which Tilman cleaned shrimp after school.
The future of Fertitta was largely predetermined by his youth on the Atlantic coast. As a teenager, Tilman often worked as a lifeguard at the Galveston hotel and saw how the sea attracts people. Today, he owns the Pleasure Pier amusement park, located on the very spot where Galveston once stood. Nearly half of Fertitta’s real estate objects are located in cities along the coast, 80% of them are right by the water. 196 restaurants specialize in seafood, such as Fish Tales or Oceanaire.