If there's anything that keeps restaurant executive Jimmy Mayberrie up at night, it's enthusiasm — not worry — over the cluster of eateries he runs with three business partners.
“I'm a super competitive person, and this excites me,” Mayberrie says. “I can't wait to get out of bed and see our numbers from the night before.”
The numbers of late at the company, which consists of a Greek restaurant in South Tampa and five Beef 'O' Brady's statewide, are certainly worth getting out of bed for. The six restaurants, which span from Deltona on the east coast to Charlotte County, combined for $5 million to $10 million in sales in 2011. Executives project sales to increase at least 5% in 2012. The company doesn't disclose specific revenue figures.
The sports- and family-themed Beef 'O' Brady's restaurants, several of which are quick turnarounds of faltering enterprises, are run under the Bayshore Co., a Tampa-based corporate entity. Mayberrie runs sales and marketing, while other tasks are split among his three business partners: Cliff Longshore oversees operations; Rob Wolfenden handles new store development; and Chris Lewis heads leasing and real estate. The total employee count for all five restaurants is around 200.
“We are building and growing,” Longshore says. “We are looking at other concepts.”
One of those concepts, past Beef's, is You Say When Yogurt Shoppes, where the foursome has an ownership stake in 27 stores on the Gulf Coast and central Florida. More significantly, the company is at the forefront of a revival at Tampa-based Beef's, which has 210 locations in 22 states.
For instance, Bayshore was the first in the Beef's chain to redesign and renovate restaurants with hardwood floors, and one of the first to offer a full liquor bar. The Adamo Drive location in Tampa, moreover, is the first one in the chain connected to a hotel. The chain named the Bayshore partners its developers of the year in 2011.
“They have a strong business mindset and acumen,” says Beef's Chief Development Officer James Walker, who adds that the Bayshore partners are great at mentoring new franchisees. “They are very good at using numbers to make decisions.”
Tampa entrepreneur Jim Mellody, in shooting for a neighborhood pub, opened the first Beef's in 1985 in Brandon. By the mid-2000s the chain had grown to 200-plus stores and around $200 million in annual sales. Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, a Beverly Hills, Calif.,-based private equity firm, invested $24.5 million in Beef's in 2007, and is now a majority owner. Restaurant industry veteran Chris Elliott, previously an executive with Cinnabon and Church's Chicken, is now CEO of the company, under Levine Leichtman.
At Bayshore, meanwhile, the partners say the success stems almost entirely from a devotion to a simple system that works and sticking to it. “The core of our success is to serve cold food cold and hot food hot,” says Longshore. “We are also very persistent with the staff that everyone who comes through the front door is greeted.”
On food service, Mayberrie adds that timing, down to the minute, is tightly watched. That goes to the company's commitment to operating a homey, family-friendly place, not just a sports bar. Says Mayberrie: “We push the bar on getting the food out of the kitchen faster.”
Of course, Longshore recognizes that to have a plan and to execute it daily can be two vastly different tasks — challenges that confront many entrepreneurs. At Bayshore, one solution is a heavy emphasis on training. “You have to train the staff how to run the restaurant when you are not there,” Longshore says. “That's the No. 1 piece to the puzzle.”
The Bayshore has slotted several pieces in place over the last five years. Those include:
• Tampa Beef's: This location, once owned by former Beef's president Nick Vojnovic, is in the Best Western Brandon Hotel and Conference Center. Sales at the restaurant, which Bayshore took over in 2008, average 25% more than the standard Beef's, says Longshore;
• Gainesville Beef's: The second Beef's attached to a hotel, Bayshore launched this store in 2009 at the Holiday Inn on University Avenue, near Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The location has since set chain-wide records for one-day sales on days when the Gators have a home game;
• Deltona Beach Beef's: The partnership bought a closed Beef's location here in 2010 and quickly rebuilt it. The store now regularly hits $1.2 million a year in sales, says Longshore, which he adds is “well over the Beef's average unit volume.”
• Englewood Beef's: This location, south of Sarasota County, is one of three recent turnaround projects. Bayshore bought this Beef's in 2011 and closed it for a three-week renovation that cost at least $150,000. “It was old and outdated,” says Longshore. “We went in and gutted the place and did a full remodel and makeover.” The conversion, including 40 new 50-inch plasma TVs, worked: Year-over-year sales are up 86%, the largest percentage growth in the chain.
• Sarasota Beef's: This renovation, of what was formerly a Shaner's Pizzeria, in a Clark Road strip mall, could be the most extensive Bayshore has done to date. “When we came into it we thought we had a turnkey restaurant,” Longshore says. “Turns out we had to do a whole new restaurant.”
Features at the new restaurant ranged from a newer and bigger game room for families to taps for 20 beers. The project cost around $250,000. The location reopened in March, and sales, says Longshore, have since exceeded $30,000 a week.
What it takes
A chunk of Bayshore's turnaround mojo comes from Longshore.
A 12-year hospitality industry veteran, Longshore, 30, spent more time at bars while in college than classrooms — but for good reason.
Longshore, starting with his freshman year at Georgia Southern University, in Statesboro, Ga., made extra money in restaurants. He tended bar and cleared tables. He was 18, and it was fun.
Then one day the owners of the Flip Flops Bar & Grill approached Longshore with a management proposition to run the place. “They came to me and asked if I was ready to be a general manager,” says Longshore. “They told me I was the only one who knows this stuff inside and out.”
Longshore took them up on the offer, back in 2000. Longshore later ran several other restaurants, including some in and around Atlanta. He co-founded Bayshore after meeting the other partners through mutual friends and business associates.
Mayberrie says the four partners each bring a different skill to Bayshore, which is why it works so well. The Bayshore corporate office has three other employees, past the four partners. “We are a very small company, but we work like a large company,” Mayberrie says. “We have a whatever-it-takes attitude. We have a win-at-all-costs attitude.”
A 2-year-old program to reinvigorate hundreds of Beef 'O' Brady's nationwide — Beef's 2.0 — is in full effect on the Gulf Coast.
The Bayshore Co., a Tampa-based hospitality firm, has rebuilt two locations in the region over the past year, one in Sarasota and another in Englewood. A father-son Beef's ownership duo in Manatee County, meanwhile, reopened their location, in west Bradenton, in late August.
“We really believe in the concept of family and sports,” says Pat Goneau, who runs the Bradenton Beef's, on Cortez Road, with his son Kyle Goneau. “The brand in Florida is really good. People know Beef's.”
The Goneaus, who moved to the region from Indianapolis, ran a Beef's on Manatee Avenue for a decade. But that location closed last year, when their landlord, Benderson Development, turned it and some other stores into a Fresh Market.
Benderson paid for a large portion of the Beef's build-out at the new Cortez Road location, says Goneau, though he and his son still spent $120,000 on the new store. Like some of the other Beef's 2.0 locations, the Bradenton store has hardwood floors, natural light and more TVs.
Goneau says sales at the Manatee Avenue location began to come back last year after a recession dip. Sales are up slightly in the new location, he adds. “I don't think we'll ever be back to where we were five years ago,” says Goneau. “But hopefully we will get a little bit back soon.”