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Jon Bonnell (Bonnell's Restaurant Group)

Jon Bonnell

Bonnell’s Restaurant Group

Jon Bonnell visits the guys at FORTitude this week and they talk all about food. Jon talks about how he developed his love for cooking and how that led him to eventually opening his own restaurant. He’s had a wild journey and this episode will leave you excited for your next meal.


Born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, Chef Jon Bonnell grew up hunting, fishing and cooking with his parents and family. After graduating from Vanderbilt University in 1994, Jon taught science and math for two years before pursuing his love for cooking and enrolling in the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont.


During his tenure at NECI, Jon completed a six-month culinary internship at Mr. B’s Bistro in the historic New Orleans French Quarter. In 1997, Jon graduated from NECI and returned to Fort Worth where he honed his cooking skills at local, upscale restaurants.

Audio Only

Episode Transcription: 

Yes. Okay. Okay, ready? Yep Welcome back fortitude. I am JW Wilson, my co host Brinton Payne to my right. BP this week has been very newsworthy. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of a guy named Gary Patterson. I believe we had him on the show one time did we? Oh, yes, indeed. We have audio that we can put out there again, for folks who are reporting on this. Oh, nice. Nice. Yeah.
You got to take track. Yeah, it’s close to that. You know, not even it’s just
a predecessor of a trek. Nice. What do you wait, Gary Patterson has been unceremoniously relieved of duties over TCU. A lot of people or unhappy a lot of people, not a lot of people. Some people are positively for that move. I happen to be close to the guy and I played for him. I’m disappointed in that news. But what matters are not the powers that be let him go. So teach us now in a in a head coach search and kind of like Star Search, right? You can say Star Search. Yeah, in fact, he’s in there. The names as we sit today are kellen moore from the Cowboys, Chris Peterson from Washington, Billy Napier for law tech, Sonny dykes, our friend over at SMU, and some guy named Deion Sanders at Jacksonville State
low reverend.
Anyway, that’s happening. The guy’s you know, he’s known to show up at work, do some things, but whatever the case may be, he’s out at TCU. So we have a huge bit of respect for Gary 23 years over there. Took the school from relative obscurity to a national brand. He deserves a lot of people’s thanks. I think people are grateful for what he did. But it seemed like a new new chapter in tissues life.
So yeah, yeah, we got to know him. Well, like it was it was really good for somebody who’s kind of the non athlete, as you often point out, for me to get to know and kind of listen to him. And he does talk about kind of his legacy and what he really wanted. So tune into that for sure.
Speaking of legacies, did you hear that voice speaking in the mic a second ago?
I did. And I do think that that is like Amina, what is the word? Not cuisine legacy? What would you call it? Culinary? Yes. Legacy? Yeah.
I’m here all day. Yeah,
yeah. Thank you very much, John.
Anyway, the guy sitting across the table from us, we would call your legacy, John is the greatness of John Bonnell. Thank you very much for joining us today, John. Thanks
for having me. I appreciate it. We you are you’re a lifelong fourth guy. You’ve traveled a little bit but you’re born and raised in fourth Correct? Yes, sir. Fourth generation where did you attend school?
Well, I went to Vanderbilt University grad went to Country Day here went to Arlington Heights actually graduated from a boarding school up in the northeast and then Vanderbilt and then I was a teacher for a couple years I taught middle school and high school math and science for about two and a half years and then went to culinary school. That’s the normal track right you get your your bachelor’s degree and then you go look for an Associate’s program somewhere right
yeah. So was the middle school teaching the what said she had to the culinary school I’ve heard that about teaching.
Now I really I really enjoy the teaching and coaching stuff with the kids I I couldn’t handle being right out of college. No wingman and like three months off in the summer I didn’t I didn’t have enough going on. So yeah,
what do you do in those summers? Did you stay up there in the northeast and just hang out or would you go
now I was teaching here in Dallas actually. Oh, okay. But didn’t didn’t have a lot a wingman around. Yeah, you used to school and then college you get you just got people everywhere and stuff to do and suddenly I was forced into adulthood. You know, it’s a Yeah, graduation is like a punishment. Yeah, they’re kicking you out of heaven when you leave college and I just wasn’t ready for that career at the time. So I went to the New England Culinary Institute, up in Vermont, spent some time in New Orleans kind of shift around until I felt like I knew enough and started started restaurant.
Does it work that way? Like almost like a residency kind of thing where you go to school and then you you kind of sit in at these restaurants?
You know, that’s a very that’s a great question. A lot of times it does work that way. If you decide you want to open a restaurant and that’s your that’s your gig. culinary schools like an accelerator experience is required school is kind of a bonus but some of the best chefs in the country like Thomas Keller French Laundry, never went to culinary school experience you have to have so if you just think you’re gonna go to school and a graduation ceremony, they hand you the keys to your new Bistro. That’s not how it works. Yeah.
Did you choose the East back that case because you had gone to boarding school like you’d like it or it’s because of the culinary I
chose. I chose the specific culinary program itself. I don’t do that well with that kind of cold
Well, you’re in any CI, its acronym Nike, Nike. You did a six month internship with the place on the screen. It’s a little restaurant called Mr. B’s Correct, right?
That’s six Brennan’s family down in the French Quarter in New Orleans. Tell
us about that experience because we all all of us in New Orleans have favor. We’ve all been to this place. It’s a fantastic place. How did you come to do this? And what was it
like, Please amazing. So in culinary school, they said in your first year, you’re going to be here six months, you’re gonna learn a whole lot of basics, we’ll get you started. And then you need to go off and put 700 hours into a kitchen. And if your chef signs off on your logbook, and that you’ve you know, got your experience, then you come back for your second year and they teach you a lot more advanced stuff. A lot of people didn’t even come back for their second year, they just go out and start working and stick around. But they had a file, a file cabinet just filled with restaurants from all over the country a few international and said, find a place send in your your job application and set up your own externship. And I started looking I said, you know, New Orleans to me, every time I’ve been I can’t, I can’t stop thinking about the food. This scene is so different. They have stuff on their menus down there commonly that everybody else didn’t even know how to pronounce. Yeah, I think the food’s amazing. There’s so many great restaurants just concentrated. So I just grabbed that file and started flipping through and said New Orleans. Here we go and ended up on this one because the Brennan’s are absolutely the best family I’ve ever seen at high volume, fine dining, and that is very difficult to combine
how many seats in that place? Or meals?
Not sure about the total seats? I will say like on New Year’s Day, one of our busiest days. I think we served 11 to 1200 people. Oh yeah. It was New Year’s in New Orleans and the end the the sugar bowls there. I mean, everything was going on at once. Yeah, from lunch to dinner. It was as fast and furious as you could go. I was on lunch shift that day, and just started my batch of crab cakes was 40 pounds of crab meat. Start start picking it through for shells chop up the peppers in there. By the time I start filling orders. Before I knew it, there’s a guy tapping me on the shoulder is like hey, I’m the dinner guy. I’m here to relieve you. I’m like great. You got 46 tickets up here. Good luck.
Oh my gosh. So what time do you start that prep 530 Or six in the morning
fair to say your your restaurant tour now your restaurant cuisine is influenced a lot by your time and Mr. B’s.
Absolutely some of those flavors just never never leave the the whole Creole idea a really intense blend of flavors. It’s not about just adding heat to something I mean, cayenne pepper is used a lot but it’s not just you know make it hot and you got Cajun Creole really means a blend of lots of different cuisines lots of flavors and complexity that that sticks with you for life. Does it
bring this sweet into like is there air and with that heat is it there’s different kinds of heat right that are like upfront heat but then there’s some that are you’re eating it and then you it’s like this isn’t hot and then you’re like wow, there is some heat on there. And
that’s the kind of stuff we always talk about with with balance and a dash I mean, is there something hot Is there something sweet? Is there something acidic? Is there something salty and when something’s out of balance you notice it and that’s that’s half of what we do a chef says alright, I made something What does it need? What’s what’s out of balance here?
So how much is learned in school of that and how much is in the externship?
Man that’s that’s a tough one. externship really is it’s it’s kind of like part of school, but you’re you’re on your own to go and do it. And the same chef who was there when I when I was at Mr. B’s in 1997. And 98 is still the executive chef. She is amazing. They are timeless. When you walk in you still it still feels the same, it still looks the same. It’s got that that classic look that only places like New Orleans can do. Did you think about not going back? No, I wanted to go back second year, the classes are way more advanced. And like I was saying it really is experienced as required. You got to work kitchens, and you got to just be in the grind and have tickets flying and learn how to create dishes, you know, in a limited timeframe. But culinary school is the greatest accelerator of that. So the school that I went to ran like nine different restaurants and you work every spot in every one of those kitchens from a fine dining restaurant to a bar and grill to a bakery, a pastry shop. We ran Vermont college cafeteria service of so many different aspects of the food service industry and you are in the weeds. Absolutely grinding it out every day for two years and incredible experience.
One of the things you flew by a second ago when you were a teacher I know that was a small piece of your life but you taught math and science Correct?
That’s right mostly biology a little a little iPad introductory fiscal
did you did just real quickly but why did you why did that period in your life is that not what you figured you’re meant to do? You knew that something better was in store for you.
I love doing it. But I couldn’t handle the lifestyle at the time just being the single guy just me and the dog and I just I wasn’t ready for it and the number of vacations the amount of time off which I would kill for now. Right? Yeah, yeah, married and kids but I just wasn’t ready to be in that pattern of life, I guess at at age 2425.
How many years married to Melinda? No. 20 years. 20 years. Congratulations. Thank you. So after you finished school, you you came back Fort Worth? Yep. 2001 I believe this place happened.
That’s right. We opened bond ELLs 20 years ago, October 12. That was right after September 11. Very nice.
Like, what was there before? I’m trying to think so that
building was a Pizza Hut Express just a pickup only and half of it was a State Farm office with cubicles. And Tom Price was in there. He’s married to Betsy price. Yes.
So the restaurant business gets open. Are you terrified? Are you ready for this? What’s it like to open the doors the first day all
the above? It’s everything possible. It’s a massive financial risk. I mean, you’re down to that last, okay. We need some working capital, you know, at last bit of money just to get the doors open. I got people paid. I got product in the house. We got a massive wine cellar. And you open the doors and hope people show up and buy most of it. Yeah. And you don’t have that much control over it. We always say the restaurant business. You are never promised one single customer. I mean, they can make a reservation and they can no show it. Absolutely. Tomorrow, the whole thing could go away. What was the first day like? The first day was a Friday night it was mostly friends and family. We didn’t want to overload the place. I think we had about 80 people on the reservation list. And we had a massive lightning storm. The power went out twice.
Like you were there before all of that development took place, right? I mean, absolutely free Lowe’s and all those other restaurants that went in and pre southwest Parkway lurches in
droves was there it was before the Chisholm Trail. And that’s been huge for us. But they did all that kind of construction. While we were there, they would drill like pipelines under the freeway, and there were some lunch periods that you could feel that you feel the rumble, we went through a lot of construction, a lot of times where we didn’t have as many customers based on it’d be hard to get there. Yeah, but the first year was fantastic. You’re always gonna get pressed when you open, everybody’s gonna come try a Place once for sure. And the second third year were really, really difficult.
Was wind part of your life at this point?
Yeah, I started taking some wine classes in culinary school. And up until that point, I thought I was I thought was a real beer nerd, I’d learned how to brew beer at home and was teaching all the other students how to make beer. And turns out the wine program is actually way more important to the business side of a restaurant than I ever realized. And the first few classes that we started taking in culinary school just opened my eyes to how much a part of the business could be and just kept studying and kept working on it ever since
is that a margin thing is because you can have their higher margins on like this sale, I mean, just a survival aspect of a restaurant, or is it all about the pairing and making sure, like the experience of it, it’s absolutely
both, you got to be able to make money on wine, you can’t pay somebody to drink it. But the money you can make on wine is an easier formula. It doesn’t go bad on you some of it actually gets more expensive. If you sit on it longer. It there’s not a perishability that food has, and it doesn’t take nearly as much labor to produce it. Think about that steak. There’s there’s five or six different people involved in receiving it, storing it, seizing it, cooking it trimming it, somebody could have just stolen one and eaten it. Yeah. Or if you didn’t sell all your steaks at night, you’re gonna throw one away, maybe the the cook on the grill and the bartender work out a deal. You give me a few beers, I’ll give you a couple steaks. Yeah, those are all very difficult parts of the formula. A bottle of wine sits in an old, an old bank vault, that building was a savings and loan to begin with. And when somebody orders it, you open it and you pour it and you present it properly. And the money’s there. So it’s an easy formula.
I once heard from the local cop here that did your smoker get borrowed for a short period of time from there at that location.
Right when the pandemic started, and everybody was sitting at home on Facebook doing nothing. Yeah, sure enough, somebody robs us in the middle of the night, and they stole a $10,000. smoker.
And what would the weight of that be? I was at a boat place yesterday.
That’s 350 pounds. Yeah, it’s,
it’s on a trailer. Correct.
I can show you the video of exactly who’s stolen. We want to go visit him. He’s, uh, he’s doing about 10 to 12 years. But that was for that instance, or for other stuff that was added on to some other stuff. He
dropped the hammer on that guy for a bar on the grill. Well,
I mean, you could watch the video and it was it was comical, he and his and his girlfriend, I guess it was a male and a female. And they they pulled up in the handicap spot right there at the front of the restaurant at about midnight and just sat there smoking cigarettes for 10 minutes and just looked around and felt like alright, and they walked into the back of the restaurant. And then they took a bunch of stuff they had grabbed quickly, like some igloo coolers and an axe that we use on the woodpile, and yeah, just a handful of things. And they left and 20 minutes later, they came back and sat there again, and we’re like, alright, we’re getting that smoker, and they almost dropped it. I swear, if that thing had fallen as they’re trying to pick it up and put it in the back of the truck bed. If it had fallen, it would have like, crushed her legs. They were the thing was teetering. And we’re like, oh, and sure enough, they got away with it. And when I showed the video and license plate and stuff, I mean, the Facebook crowd went nuts like I know exactly. I those guys were ripping off 711 Just a couple days ago. Go talk to that manager that managers like yeah, they live right over here and This within four days, the Fort Worth police said, Are you guys? Are you at the restaurant right now? We got a delivery for you. And they brought it back.
Yeah. So I know a police officer who went and just he knew the right guys to go to where to go. And the guy was like, Yeah, okay, I’ll tell you hang on, let me make a call. And they it was kind of like this well known heist I get. Yeah.
I mean, everybody was online at the time. And I mean, I saw like, 37,000 shares and a couple of days. I’m like, Okay, we’re all sitting at home. Let’s see if we can solve the case of the smoker. Yes. That’s a great story, apparently, that the guy who had it, eventually called the police and said, hey, yeah, that smoker thing that I was looking for, if I can tell you where it is, am I like, okay, yeah. Am I gonna be fine? Yeah, they ended up. He led them directly to it. And when I got it back, we hooked it up. It was still full of wood. It was in perfect condition. Ready to go
kidding. Excellent. Great story.
So Banyoles has done so well. One of the things that’s really neat for us is in 2000, for Your Word, you won the award of excellence from Wine Spectator. And you’re a Zagat rated, I think you’ve been consistently doing those things ever since correct. We have been very fortunate is impressive. And then 2016, obviously, much further down the road, you won the double glass Award of Excellence. So your wine prowess is is it started off at a good place, but it’s gotten progressively better.
Okay, that was a big move when Wine Spectator says okay, you’re not getting a regular award. Now. Now we’re giving you the double glass, they recognize that you put a lot more into your wine program. And I started teaching wine classes at TCU, about 1015 years ago, also, and at the Culinary School of Fort Worth occasionally. So the wine program has grown by leaps and bounds and we’ve got a pretty fun collection over there.
So that was your initial I mean, do you is that your initiative or you hire some folks who are really helpful in that department?
Now I teach all the classes are in one. Yeah.
What’s the best bottle one you’ve ever had? Wow, single
best bottle I’ve ever had. The very first cynic one on that ever had was the inaugural? No, no, the first one I had was called. Oh, gosh, I can’t believe you’re asking me this. It’ll it’ll come to me in about five minutes. And I’ll jump back on
it. What was the special occasion that required this bottle of wine? Or did you just happen?
I started looking at Robert Parker site and I said, you know, what does he ever give 100 points to because that just rarely happens. Just for the love of it. That was the name of the first one I had. And so I was like, Alright, why does this one winemaker keep getting 100 pointers every other year? And so I ordered one from a lender for Christmas and I was like here’s a wine we’ve never had it’s a cult once you got to find it in auction somewhere you know you got to be on the list. This is that special stuff that everybody knows is it called in the movie Iron Man Tony Stark has a case under his desk. No, so I was like alright, I’m gonna get one and anyway we we opened it on Christmas and I was like alright, this stuff is special and made contact with a winery and managed to get on the list so we actually carry a lot of those now but the first time I ever tasted one of those I was like alright this there is a massive difference between just a wine and this stuff that’s quite
a present for sure. Right it’s a good Christmas no doubt about it. Um so the in the restaurant real quick before moving before in your life what’s what’s the best thing you like making and what’s the worst thing you like making if you can stink in the restaurant or just in general in Bonn else
specific in the restaurant, I would say I’m an appetizer guy I like I like to have two or three dishes instead of just commit to one big plate. So our our three favorite appetizers that are never going away. The fried legs of quail, little elk tacos, and our dish we call oysters, Texas feller. It’s a play on Rockefeller but it’s a fried oyster with hollandaise sauce, little spinach and tomato underneath that’s actually on the menu at waters and bond ELLs. That’s one of the only crossovers
they’ve been there from the beginning. Yeah, 20 years. That’s fantastic. What’s
your favorite restaurant to eat at non Bunnell family
in Fort Worth Yeah, we love going over to you know our friends places like Ellerby fixture fun to go have a drink at riada and grab grab a couple appetizers at the bar while we’re walking around. We like all the other independent restaurants tributaries a big one for us. What
about outside of Fort Worth like best in the world like your what you try to mimic your dining experience in your place? What what said to you this is what I want to create.
Man that’s that’s a tough one. I we go to New Orleans every year I’m in one of the crews of Mardi Gras. So every year we go and I’m always looking at a new dish a new flavor or a new ingredient and just everything that’s going on down there as fun bonus down there. Susan Spicer’s places always very inspirational. August has always been amazing. GW fans has some very cool seafood items going cool. I think the best place I’ve ever been is a Thomas Keller restaurant called per se up in New York and I mean, you’re paying through the nose. It’s amazing and the level of service and what they’re doing it takes 20 people to make some of their dishes I mean, it’s incredible how much they put into a play, but you know 2324 courses Yeah, it’s it’s an entire theatrical presentation along with a male and it’s it’s one of those you save up and you do you do something special. It’s not you know, every Every Thursday we’re heading over. Right, right.
So in 2009, you you had an idea for a new new concept called buffalo brothers, where you go over by TCU way, right? That’s right. You subsequently 10 years later 2019 Couple years ago, you open one downtown, but I must tell you, my office there every Thursday is going to ruffle feathers for the wings. You’re welcome
for putting that smell in your office. It just drifts right on over their time, right. But there was
a lot of research right with the wings. Yeah, I heard you went to Buffalo like, well, here’s we’ll talk about this.
Here’s the deal, the other my business partner, Chef Ed moko. And we’ve been working together forever. And when I wanted to do bond ELLs, I was like, hey, it’s gonna be hard to do this by myself. Will you do it with me? And he’s like, Absolutely. Let’s so we’ve been partners on on all the restaurants so far. And after a while, Ed said, you know, I’m from Buffalo, New York. And there’s not a single decent buffalo wing in this town. If anybody ever did it would make a killing. And I just kept that was stuck in the back of my head forever. I kept thinking, What do you mean, there’s not a single decent wing? He’s like, let me just show you a basic simple batch of buffalo wings. How we do these at home the right way. I was like, yeah, that’s that’s a damn good wing. Yeah. And sure enough, I found the right real estate deal right there in the middle of TCU on University and I thought, you know, pizza wings and subs and a big beer list on a college campus. How can this fail? Oh, yeah. So it’s been 14 years actually. birthday is today. Oh, happy days. Yeah, general buffalo.
One more thing on the wings. So many of the restaurants there. It’s a flattened boneless wing but yours is a more ball like structure. Can you explain
just how do you devote your
there’s two there’s two parts to a bone in Wing Okay, a bone in Wing there’s a drum and a flat and we can talk all day like chili whether it has beans or not people can disagree on what’s the better wing they’re all wrong. It’s the flat the flats better than the than the drum. Everybody knows
us. And she’s one where I’ve seen guys put the whole thing in their mouth and just if you just bone if you got that
kind of talent, I’m impressed. It’s funny. I’m I did a YouTube one time when I said you’re eating them wrong. And if you just push down on one side, flip it over, push down, you get the meat to fall off or both bones pretty fast. But when it comes to boneless wings, those aren’t wings. Okay, it’s breast. So you take chicken breast, cut it to the right sizes, flour and fry. Okay, it’s very, very time consuming and difficult to take the meat off of a wing and nobody does that. So
So Wednesday afternoon evening you’re prepping for Thursday’s on slot I’m assuming there’s a lot of work going into those wings.
Oh absolutely. Wing Wing and Wednesday’s huge game days are always huge. You know, we don’t have a lot of really slow days a buffalo bros. We’re open seven days a week but we will prep up a tremendous amount extra when we know it’s coming wing and Wednesday is always big. And anytime there’s a big sporting event that’s that’s what we look for.
How many wings do you serve on a given day? Have you ever put numbers to that? I
got Super Bowl day we could go through 20,000 20,000 wings.
Holy cow. That’s amazing. If we get stepped out more time that we’re done on the projector, we have a picture of your view holding a Nebuchadnezzar
that one was an imperial that was a gift from Bob Eggo Hoff, that’s a there’s two cases of wine in that one bottle.
Unbelievable. Yeah. And then next to that 18 year, your private label. Can we talk about that for a sec?
Is this your site? You opened a Christmas just for us for you and your wife? Just that was that was the afternoon
just a little slipper? That was for my 40th birthday when the restaurant turned 10 Mr. Eggo Hoff sent that over as a big old gift. He and my wine distributor, Ivan Thornton said we wanted to get you something special. So we opened it up that night for our big party. It’s great. How was it? Oh, so amazing. Echo Hoff is the man and that’s why I asked him, hey, if I were going to make a bonhill signature cab, any chance you got some juice laying around we could play with and maybe make one and he said well, like we can’t talk about wine over the phone while you’re bud out here. And let’s start tasting wines and see if we can’t figure something out. So
So you instrumental in the mixing and the blending of the grapes and your private label. The final
blending is the part that only the winemakers are good at. So a lot of people can do the mechanics of making wine and the fermentation put in barrels but you got all these barrels at the end and every one I’m taste different. It’s like the master distiller for bourbon, who’s going to put that together and who’s gonna make it right and consistent. And he said, you know, this this year, I’ve got I’ve got some orphan barrels, I got plenty of juice to work with. So come on out. We’ll start tasting and see what we like and how you piece those back together is an absolute art and only if you guys are qualified, it took me two hours to get it right with him. He’s like I could do about 1520 minutes. Whose
is that? The executive chef in the kitchen that that position that you’re talking about for the wine? The wine maker is that what the executive chef does at the kitchen is they put all those pieces together. That’s
a very good analogy. Yep. Okay,
do you sell much of your bottles private versus other other bottles that you carry? I always sell
quite a bit of it since we have about the glass also, we usually make about 120 cases a
year. Is that one of your more popular sells wine? Yeah, it is.
It’s all st Halina right in the heart of Napa. It it’s one of the best values for a very Big heavy, intense. It’s the kind of wine that makes Napa famous and we’ve got a pretty good price point on that. So
the next slide is you with one of your friends.
This is one of your employees. Fish pictures. Oh man. Yeah.
How do you find your seafood? John?
Oh, that’s a great question. Seafood is a slightly trickier.
Yes, with seafood these days,
we’re not getting a lot of a lot of Mudbugs out of the Trinity and serving. The fish game is so different because like I can talk to my meat guy every day. And maybe the price has changed. But a steak is a steak. You’re still getting rib eyes and tenderloins and strips or maybe some, you know, odd cuts, but the fish guy has a different story every couple of hours. The fish game is completely determined by wind weather season, all that kind of stuff. So I’m on the phone with a fish guy like two three times a week. And it’s always Alright, what’s Buyten captain and oh, I got I got the Lynn brothers out of Florida. You love them they are heading back they’ll make FedEx cut off time today, they went out overnight, they got 400 pounds, a red snapper 200 pounds of black grouper and a couple of cobia if you want one, let me know because this boats gonna be sold by the time they hit dock. And that’s the kind of phone call that happens all the time. It’s a blast. But I’m looking for fish that I can get from shore to door and under 24 hours. I don’t I don’t want to buy it out of the inventory from an auction because it may have been caught somewhere flown to an auction traded to someone else flown to an inventory. I like that fish from a small like two day to day kind of trip captain and short it on under 24. So it’s one of the fish captions. I don’t even remember what year I started that. But that became this really fun Facebook game, where I put up a picture, you know, holding a fish and people just started making funny comments. And I’m like, alright, you know what, let’s engage your buddy a little bit more here. I’ll make a funny face with him or pose it and say best comment by the end of today gets a free bottle of wine. They start putting those up on Facebook. And it became like the most fun game ever. What were some of the best comments or one? Oh, man, most of the most of the ones that I would say were the funniest. I probably shouldn’t say on the air.
Well, comment about it be like an employee. And I wanted to ask you. I mean how how challenging isn’t been they’ve said that the restaurant business is the one that’s getting hit the hardest with employees and how do you keep your employees incentivized and you got a whole group of folks who presume it just seems they don’t want to work. So how do you manage that?
That’s that’s a lot of questions at once. I will say 2020 hit us like a ton of bricks and nobody saw it coming. You know, and in February, we were all joking about the ALA Coronavirus is going to be like the SARS and the swine flu. And if you ever ate a ponchos, you’re probably immune to it and all that kind of stuff. But then March hit and for two weeks sales literally just disappeared. restaurants were gonna go out of business before they got shut down. Because we all lost over 90% of our sales, everybody just quit. I mean, all the reservations called, you’d have a weekend with 120 on the books on Saturday night, and only four people would show up. And I mean, the staffs looking around like what you know, what’s going on is this really that big a deal and all of our catering for the entire year called in cancel within one week, it was over $500,000 in contracted caterings. But I can’t keep somebody deposit on that. So not only were we losing all of our money, we were given deposits back and then they closes down. And I it’s one of the most difficult experiences I didn’t I didn’t know if it was going to be a viable industry for the future. That’s, that’s why I wrote this book about the entire year what it was like from inside the restaurants. And then when we finally did reopen, you had all the bells and whistles and everybody wanted to start fighting with each other from the protests that were happening to the mask mandates or the requirements for social distancing. And who was in charge of that. And I mean, it’s just been, you know, one fight after another that we didn’t mean to find ourselves in, but suddenly we were the officiator of, of you know, who can come in the restaurant where you can sit when you have to wear a mask. And now that we’re on the other side of it, we are as busy as we could be, which is great. Yeah, I mean restaurants are are just flush with customers, but it’s harder to find staff than it’s ever been. So it’s it’s still not an easy picture.
Well, you are kind of the head guy in charge on some of that, you know, like they and so did you did something hit you where it’s like, you know what, guys? If we don’t get together and make some rules ourselves, somebody is gonna make some rules for us. And we may not like them.
The way it kind of happened, right when when when it looked like you know the world was coming to an end they canceled the NBA season they canceled South by Southwest and we started saying all right, this this is really bad. We kind of scheduled a meeting it was supposed to be a fundraiser a clay shoot for the Food Wine Festival and all the chefs were going to get together and anyway they I said hey guys do want to I obviously we had to cancel our shoot, but I do want to still meet and just talk stuff out because obviously a lots going on and well maybe I said Betsy Price said she’d come and the mayor is going to come talk to us. We all showed up so I don’t know 12 1215 restaurants, all kind of sitting around a room is the first time we ever spaced our chairs out and said the word social, socially distant and she said look, I don’t want to shut y’all down. This was March 16 on a Monday and said I don’t want to shut you down. I have no intent on doing In that, and one of the other restaurant owners held his phone up and said, Dallas just shut down all the bars and restaurants. So at that meeting, we all talked about, you know, well, obviously stuffs gonna happen. And she said, I need y’all to designate a point person, because I’m not going to be able to answer phones and text like I like to, there’s going to be a lot happening, designate one point person when I have information, I can take questions that way. And I can give answers that way. And I ended up getting voluntold to do that one. So
well, they said, You’re the one that kicked her husband out of that office in your restaurant. So you’re the guy and they never forget it.
One of the things you’re you’re been really good at for a long time is social media and using it for for good. One of the things you did during the dynamic is what we’re showing on the screen now you created to go order. Business. I mean, you’re you already did that before. I think at some level, maybe I mean, normal stuff we’ve done
to go food, and we’ve done, you know, meals to go for Thanksgiving. But we had never done anything on a scale like this. So
you orchestrated this and there’s a picture of you. And there’s other pictures online of cars. Yeah, to the to the distance wind up to pick up food. This this save you guys is that fair in how many meals we talking on a daily basis.
It really did save us. We sat down that that week, when we got shut down on Wednesday, and I sat down with the handful of people that we had left, I fired 235 employees, we got all the way down to 31 people total over four restaurants. And there are only six of us at barbells. And I sat down with everybody and I said, Hey, bars open, grab a drink. Let’s sit around and figure out can we we stay in business? If so how? What are we going to do? We don’t have anybody left four people cooking and two managers. That’s it. That’s not much. But you can’t open the door. So we can’t afford the labor to stay on. And I said all right. After we all talked about every possibility, like well, we could still try to do our food to go and take it out to the parking lot. I said we only we only have enough people to answer the phone and take orders, much less fill these orders. I mean, our menus too complex our stuff is, this is not even what the city needs right now. And our final consensus was, you know, we need to cook the highest volume of food, or the lowest possible price and feed the most people out of this out of this operation as we can. The city needs it. And why don’t we just go with $40 for a family four pack, no choices. I’ll get on Facebook, there’s enough people seeing it on Facebook, and I’ll tell them everyday hey, here’s what we got tonight. Yeah, show up at four o’clock and we’ll just start handing meal. We’re putting meals on the trunks or backseat of cars. So they’re totally contact free. And we’ve got a little credit card machine where they could just crack their window and slide a credit card and you know, trying to be as safe as we can and feed as many as we can. And the first the first week that it started was just overwhelmed. We were getting six or 700 people a day. That’s great. still continue to do this today. I still doing it today about two to 250 a day. Yeah,
that’s incredible. So I’m moving along John your books. One of the books at the bottom right in the screen is carry out carry on. It’s not even a recipe book. It’s a it’s a book about your experience with all this you just outline a little bit of but uh we haven’t even touched on waters waters opened in 2013 between buffalo brothers one buffalo. There’s those two Excuse me. But the books have been wildly successful. The first one tech is Texas fine cuisine the first one you did? Yep. So how do these How did these ideas come to you just you knew you had something special? You want to share it with the world do a book and yeah, so successful. You made more
fine. Texas cuisine was our first one. And that’s that’s the hardest thing is can actually write a book. Do I have enough material? Is it something people want? And as I started organizing that, I thought, yeah, absolutely. We’ve got enough stuff and worked with a publishing agent. And we found a publisher who said we would love to take on this project. And that one is in its sixth printing. It’s been out quite a while and still doing well. The only complaints we got on that one were you know, some of the stuff in there is pretty hard. It’s there’s some fancy stuff. This is more of a fine dining cookbook. So the second book Texas favorites is more of a this is a Texas cuisine for everybody. Yeah, tailgating ideas, some ideas for people who like to hunt and fish some wild game stuff out of throw a great dinner party, some Tex Mex basics. And then waters when we opened the seafood restaurant, so many people are terrified to cook fish. It’s like a phobia. And I thought you know if we want to do a book that people really need, waters has been very well received because we do tons and tons of different types of recipes in there. And the chapters are like this, this is how you do things that are going to be like raw, you know, so Vijay and oysters on the half shell different sauces then this is for if you want to saute something if you’re trying to grill this whole chapters on that this is fried. That one’s been great. And the last book man as the as the year kept progressing, you know, starting March 2020 I kept thinking there is so much stuff that has happened and it’s only been how long Yeah, and I just kept kind of journaling and writing everything down. And as I became the the one sending out information to all the other restaurant owners, I think that email I’ll list is like 160 now, but I ended up kind of being the liaison between the mayor’s office and the governor’s office or Senator Cornyn office. And so I got I kind of went back through all the different communications I had was able to piece the year together. And not just the the COVID stuff, but then the protests and you know, all the new Facebook fights that started and I thought, I want to get this down while I still remember everything. Yeah. And I want to be able to tell my kids the entire story and the truth, because my kids are 10 and 14, and they obviously knew what was happening. But you know, you shelter your kids. Yeah, there’s a lot of a lot of the business stuff I didn’t, I didn’t let them be a part of, I didn’t let them know it was happening. I mean, there were times that I thought we may just be financially sunk here. And I guess I’ll be looking for another job. And those are kind of some big, big, huge, heavy decisions that I wasn’t sleeping a lot. I was, you know, constantly just researching on the couch. And sometimes the kids would find, you know, one of my kids came in at, you know, three or four in the morning. What are you doing awake? What are you doing awake? And I’m trying to figure out if we can survive this or not. Yeah, but I wanted to write the book to make sure that I could just chronicle everything. And I had a hard time trying to figure out when to stop it. I could still be writing chapters now. Right? I finally when the governor said, we are lifting all restrictions, we’re done. I said a perfect. That’s that’s a period at the end. And we’ll call this book.
Was there any class at that New England Culinary Institute that even broached anything like this?
Oh, yeah. We had pandemic 101102. No, we had zero.
So it’s like serious as ready for play. Yeah,
that was one of those things that nobody had an expert to turn to. I mean, they’ve never shut down all the restaurants in the country. Yeah. Did you I could not have imagined. I mean, two years ago, if somebody said, By the way, something is gonna happen, where there will not be a single waiter, single bartender wine steward hostess in the entire country, there just won’t be a single one. That job is going to be erased. I would have said, You are absolutely insane. What is it a robots gonna take over? I mean, there’s no way you could have predicted the sequence of events that happened here.
Now coming out of it. I’ve heard that there’s like crazy food shortages in places where you can’t get them delivered. So what’s the number one item? Is it chicken? Wait, I’ve heard this.
There is a shortage on chicken wings. Yeah, supply chain just goes up and down all the time. And you never know what it’s going to be next. I mean, last week, it was certain types of styrofoam containers, you know, the clam shells Do you know food to go in? And certain ones that were the most common that you just order without thinking about it? And you know, having your store on there? Like, you know, we’re out of those, like when you think they’re coming back? Like, maybe a year too cheap? I mean, it’s the stuff sitting on cargo ships, and nobody knows. Yeah. Chicken wings are in a shortage. What we used to pay 70 bucks a case for about 195 ks right now. A little over 50 cents a wing Ra. So when we used to do wing on Wednesday, it was 10 links for five bucks. Yeah, I That’s why I went in. Well, we had to raise the price because I cannot pay ut wings. I’ll go broke in a hurry on that way.
Right. My office put it in that for sure. You also on top of all this, you hit a little place called TCU. In their game day food, some of their game day food experience. That’s obviously a lot to undertake. Assume you have a TCU plays Baylor tomorrow. So you’re already in preparation for that. You have a whole team that does this.
Well, how many hot dogs Oh, nachos. Well,
I don’t have the contract there anymore. So we did that for five seats. Okay. It was absolutely awesome. The CXOs the food service company that handles the whole campus? Yeah. And they’ve got like 1000 campuses in the US. They’re a big company. And they said, you know, we we need a chef to handle the clubs and sweets because these people expect more than our you know, our regular campus food. And so for five seasons, we were doing that yeah, we would we would go through, Gosh, 1200 pounds of brisket. 800 pounds of ribs. 700 pounds of sausage just on the barbecue station, maybe maybe 1800 hotdogs and a game, and 5000 people are going to eat in a three hour window. It was awesome and absolutely loved doing it. My catering team has never worked harder. It’s one of those every every game when you’re done. You just turn around look like Did we really pull that off? Yeah, it was an you didn’t even know what time the game was gonna start. So you didn’t know what your menu was going to be until Sunday the week before. So think about it. The games all play on Saturday, right on Sunday, the rankings come out. And then the TV stations start jacking with each other for position like okay, TCU is looking pretty good. Let’s get more primetime spot. You got a three o’clock game or a six o’clock game. Great. That’s a lunch and dinner menu. GCU loses and whoever we’re playing is not in good position. You know what we’re going to give them 11 o’clock game rights if that’s a breakfast game. And if you ate 11 o’clock kickoff, we opened food service at 9am I need seven hours to get ready. So that’s a 2am start in the kitchen for us.
Fair to say you’re not watching any games, you’re always on point doing something where are you during the games?
So what my goal was is I wanted to get by every single suite there’s 32 of them and every one of the clubs and try to at least say hello to every Buddy Check on all the buffets before halftime. So usually I check my you know, your Apple, Apple Fitbit thing and I’d look at it and I usually get about nine miles in that day
you said alarm or something. He got it the concise so you got to cut a lot of conversation short, I’m sure you’re pretty
good to see. Hey, what’s going on? Yeah, yeah. It was an absolute blast and I love doing it. But there was a point where, you know, with the new side of the stadium being built and a whole nother set of clubs, and then COVID hit just lots of different things happen and said EXO, decided that they were going to stop with a celebrity chef part. Yeah,
you’re a friend of Gary Patterson, he thoughts on what’s happened there. You don’t have to go deep if you don’t want but I think
I think Gary’s one of the best things that ever happened to TCU. He’s in class act as a man as a coach, and I think they’re gonna miss him a lot. winningest coach in TCU history, I can’t say enough good things about about Gary Patterson. Right when we started with with a team was the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen. They had the perfect season. I mean, that was unbelievable. I think they’re gonna miss him quite a bit. I have no idea what the future has to has for TCU. And I’m not one who really knows that much about college football. I mean, I love watching. Yeah, I don’t have an in depth, you know, player analysis in my head. And I do know who all those guys are as far as the coaching prospects. And that’s like me. Yeah, it’ll be interesting. But man, how do you replace a legend like that?
For sure. On a hardest part of being a chef John, besides pandemic, take that out of the equation? What’s the hardest part about being you
the hours? hours? Yeah, that’s, that’s the one in school that they tell you first day, I mean, and you’re in, you’re welcome dinner to school, it’s look, you are going to live the opposite hours of everybody else, you know, go ahead and kiss your Friday and Saturday nights, goodbye, every single holiday, you are not sitting at the table with your mom on Mother’s Day, you were the one behind the buffet carving the ham. If you’re okay with that, and you can stand up and work with your hands. They don’t put windows and kitchens or chairs. If you can handle the labor and you can handle the hours, you’re going to love this industry, but that’s what he’s most people up and you know, trying to raise two kids, my wife and I, when we first opened the restaurant, I mean, I was working 80 hours a week. But once you start having kids now how do you manage life? And how do you make that work? It’s it’s very difficult.
How’s Melinda in the kitchen? Oh,
she loves cooking. She I take it back. She doesn’t love to cook, but she’s gotten very good. She says I wish they would dinner together really quickly. And you know, as long as the kids like it, and I like it. I’m like, absolutely. We have an agreement. I don’t walk in the kitchen. It’s Oh, you know what else I would do there? That’s a horrible practice. So yeah. Cooking around cooking. But I will say if it’s if it’s a Monday, we’re closed. I’m like, Hey, you want to make dinner? There’s always a yes. Every time I offer. I have more fun cooking at home now than I ever have. Usually, like, take one of the kids with me to Central Market and say alright, pick out one thing you want tonight. What? I don’t know, my son, who’s 10 would be like, what about that octopus? And I’m like, yeah, absolutely. Let’s do that. And my daughter is more like, ooh, and artichoke. That’s beautiful. So we always just try fun stuff. Oh, that’s cool. Cooking with the kids is a blast. Yeah.
One of the neat things you did on the screen, we have the Black Lives Matter protests that were took took over the nation in the world. You were very involved in that social media wise and then in your restaurant wise, that was an experience. Can you briefly tell us how that went for you?
Man, that was a tough one. After we had been closed for 80 Something days at waters we finally were allowed to reopen. And we were having our big reopening, you know, celebration and party and Okay, here we go. We’re gonna be open at 50%. And I was just glad to see our staff again. I mean, we finally got to hire people again. Yeah. And we were on top of the world and customers were so excited. And they were coming in and they’re they’re buying champagne and, you know, towers of oysters and crab claws and, and then that night right after we opened we got a call from Sundance security and they said, Look, tomorrow night maybe a little rougher. There’s there’s some protests. This is a splinter group off of the regular protests. That said, the protests have not gone far enough. They’re going into restaurants and it’s it’s getting very tense. So we’re gonna put a, we’re gonna put an officer at every restaurant. As soon as they start walking down the street, we’re gonna ask you to lock your door, lock everybody in. Once they pass through, unlock the door. We’ll have a police officer there. And we all got pretty scared. Yeah, I saw a lot of the online videos and the language and it was it was some pretty salty stuff. So the next day, stood there. The customers were in there again. I mean, everybody’s dressed to the nines are all celebratory. And then, you know, the protesters came by, I locked the door and I thought everything was done. And then about 10 minutes later, I got a tap on the shoulder and it was a chef there. They’re coming to the patio. You’re gonna need to get out there right now. I didn’t even think about the protests coming around to the other side. Yeah, they have every right to the streets and sidewalks, that’s their permit and they have every right to do what they’re doing. But it got very, very tense right off the bat. And when when their leader kind of spotted me and he said, Well, there’s there’s a community leader right there. I need to talk To you, and I need you to tell the mayor something for me and I said, Hey, we’re not against you, man. We’re not We’re not here to fight. I’ll tell you, the mayor, anything you want. Come on up here, man. I just want to say we’re not we’re not trying to fight with you. We’re not against your cause. I’ve actually gone out there and marched with y’all before, and we’re hurting too. I’m not fighting with you. But we’re trying to be in business we just opened up. And we had a pretty good little moment, and they respectfully kind of walked on. And the next day, we made these signs. And as they came around the corner instead of a confrontation, we held up signs that said, like, yeah, George Floyd did not deserve to die stuff that we can all agree on, no matter what. Yeah, black lives matter to us two signs like that and had a case of cold waters because it was absolutely burning up as June in Texas. And they kind of you know, gave some applause couple high fives and went on down the street. And one of the next patios they spent 45 minutes and a few people got arrested and they got pretty ugly, but so really
well yep. Supercharged polarized environment. Did you see any bump in business or bumper decline? And from that, you know, I mean, everybody wants to, to paint everybody else as a picture it Did you feel any of that? Or? No, you just I gotta
tell you what, we had so many things going on. We had just gotten reopen. We were at 50%. Max. So we were just looking at numbers like man, is this. Is this enough in sales to support the staff? We got? Yeah, you know, every day was a was a look at the numbers on paper, and we can’t sell anymore. If you’re living in a 50% your sales are limited to exactly the number of seats. You got we yeah, we were focused on so many different things. I don’t know if that had an effect on us or not.
How many employees do you have right now?
We’re up to 238. We started at 265. Before pre pandemic and we’re getting we’re getting close. Oh, that’s good. I wouldn’t say we’re fully staffed but it it feels pretty comfortable. I don’t know a single restaurant owner. And we know everybody in town. I don’t know anybody that call themselves 100% fully staffed. Everybody’s looking. But you know, it’s a tougher environment. And you just got any that
you’re here. I mean, like Fort Worth. I think they handled it this weekend of really well. I mean, did this feel the same way
the city has done an amazing job out of the top 25 cities in the US, we’re 12 Now, we’re the only one out of the top 25 That didn’t have widescale rioting, looting burning. We obviously had issues. Yeah. But I think everybody handled it very respectfully on all sides. And we managed to get through it and may not have been the easiest thing but the city survived very, very well.
Well done. So not to change trackable quick, but there’s a lot wind up the interview, I want to talk one more thing you do that’s really really interesting and fascinating. In 2018 you you ran 17 triathlons, including on top of that the Dallas marathon that was a huge year for you and you’re very public with it, which is really cool. We all follow this and you’ve had some aches and pains lately and this is no longer something you’re able to maybe do for now.
I don’t know if I’ll be running them anymore. I’d man I love the the triathlon game once you get hooked on that stuff, I mean, it was it was the healthiest lifestyle. And it is one of those it became like almost like a spiritual thing. Like whenever I’m in, I need to make a decision whenever I really need to think about something or if or if someone you love died, like you know what I need to go run, I can clear I can clear everything out because I don’t take a phone with me. The only time that it’s just me if I go for a run or a bike ride or swim. And I was just racing all the time having a blast with it. Um, you know, decent enough in my age group, but I’m not exactly going to the Olympics. Let’s not kid ourselves. But then I tore an ACL, just a little nothing on a ski trip didn’t even hurt. Just you know, wow, my knees totally loose. I can’t make it stay straight. And sure the doctor is like, yeah, you You tore your ACL, we’re going to do an ACL reconstruction and I got, you know, very determined like, I’ve seen this happen to football players and one year they are back and I said yeah, next year I’ll be racing again straight to the quad that’s it. So three years later and one part of my quad never never turned back on. So it looks like I probably won’t be running ever again. So I got to figure out something else you can bike right? I can I can’t bike as well as I’d like
to still swim and bike. Sure. Why don’t they just cut the running out of triathlon biathlon or something
there actually is one that’s called there’s an aqua bike there’s an aqua Tod there’s there’s ways to combine two without doing all three but there’s like one of those a year so it’s hard to get motivated for all those races. Yeah,
any regrets in your in your life?
I wish I hadn’t skied that day. Just one day,
like slushie day what was it
I was pretty packed powder. Yeah, wasn’t a big deal. Just a little little pop. But I think it really my like my check engine light just came on. Yeah, Says
the guy who wakes up at 2am serving, you know 1000s of pounds of brisket. Yeah, it was not a really a big deal for me, you know?
So we took the liberty of contacting a few of your friends to find out some information that may not be publicly known. We have to have a question for you. But apparently on a hunting trip to Tajikistan a few years back to GK you are looking to jika Stan, you’re looking for a Marco Polo to shoot apparently on the wall The lodge you’d notice something. Are you familiar with this story?
Oh my god. I was to ask you this. This one was on the wall. So there’s a lot. This was my bucket list trip. I mean, the most remote hunting place in the world. Tajikistan is next to Afghanistan, in the Pamir Mountains we’re up at we’re hunting at 18,000 feet. It takes three and a half days. One way just to get here. It took me three years for the paperwork to get to go do this amazing trip. And as soon as I get to this, it’s not even really I wouldn’t call a lot just like a year. Yeah, most primitive building you can have in a place. That’s way you know, days above treeline, and the first thing I see on the wall is a little sign thing from from Joe lancar. To Joe T. Garcia’s restaurant. It’s like you got to be kidding me. Joe’s got his stamp on this year. It took me three and a half days even get to
like he had been there previously been there and shot when we heard
that she had assigned like that in your boarding school dorm room for John Prescott when it came up there that freshman year to
try it out. I went to boarding school in Byfield, Massachusetts, like 40 minutes north of Boston and I was so far away from anybody I ever knew and be a bad kid. Now I asked my parents if I could leave to try to get my grades up and get into a better car.
East Coast boarding schools are kind of the way to go. I mean, it’s only kind of here where people think of that as some type of punishment to be right the way other places they’re like the feeder schools for all the ivy League’s
that’s a prep school, and I did I met Warren Prescott. He was a couple years behind me and nice guy and he ended up going to TCU and I saw him a few years later valet parking cars somewhere I’m liking you. He’s like the only guy I’ve seen from the Governor’s Academy and Byfield mass, you know in yours. What are you doing here is when I went to TCU and started working at Renner frog then bought it and I’m parking cars and it’s been an incredible credibly successful business out of that, but I did look up a few, you know, old, like pictures of him as a freshman on the telly, Massachusetts sending his kids of course yeah, may
or may not be the source of that question. I cannot divulge the last slide we have a US you with Melinda and some guy named Dwight Yoakam. You’ve met some interesting cats in your days who are some of the greatest people you’ve been lucky enough to serve feed around.
I never imagined when I decided I was going to cook for a living that I would get to do so much cool stuff and meet so many cool people. So yeah, we did a dinner with Dwight Yoakam and Napa Valley. I got to cook for Bradley Cooper one night for the premiere of American Sniper. That was cool
crew here. It looks closer to Bradley Cooper, would you say? Are we anybody else in the room? Fair enough.
We’ll leave it down. Cooked for a company president their hair or lack of hair?
No, continue on your comments.
I got to cook for a couple of presidents for George W for Jimmy Carter cook for a lot of governors, a lot of politicians in
the White House presidents
no different places.
Okay. I’ve got to think that it’s, it’s got to be pretty gratifying to prepare a meal for somebody like that, because it really brings you closer. It’s just different than kind of another service. It’s more of a Yeah, they really appreciate it probably, you know, especially if it’s good. You know,
when they’re not president anymore. They’re still president for life. You know what you call them. But there’s, there’s a certain amount of fun, you can tell they just have and yeah, when we were cooking for George W. It was a small party in someone’s house. And everyone in the kitchen is like, can we get pictures? And I said, Look, we are not part of this party. We’re the hired help. We do our job the best we can. Congratulations, you’re cooking for President. That’s pretty neat. Yeah, but that’s that’s not our role. This is their party. And right after we plated desserts, I said Congratulations, everybody. That looks amazing. You just did a flawless service. This was perfect. Great job. And, and he just walked in the kitchen says Hey, everybody, get your phones out who wants take pictures? And then he said in Spanish and and they all looked at me. I was like, go ahead. And he stayed for 1015 minutes and took every picture with every camera even pulled a couple of selfies out was the nicest guy in the world. And you could tell every single person in the room just love that. That’s great. You get a picture with a president doesn’t matter which president you get a picture with a president. How was that? Yeah. So those kind of things have been amazing. And again, I never thought I would ever get to do this kind of stuff. Just because I started cooking. I got invited to go fly with the Thunderbirds and an F 16. I mean, some really cool stuff. get sick at all. That was my one goal because I got a bunch of buddies who’ve been fighter pilots and they’re like, not, don’t throw up and you know, don’t mess your pants. And yeah, I’ll pass out yeah, those are my three goals. And yeah, I made it through all three. We pulled injuries. I was I was close to passing out but I didn’t quite
well, John, you’ve lived an amazing and extraordinary life. You’ve done some really great stuff specially for this town of Fort Worth not dying yet. I’m just kidding. Just not running anymore. The best part about it is you’re a nice guy. You’re one of the good guys. We appreciate that about you people that know you know this to be true. So thank you for being a good guy and an advocate for the city of Fort Worth. So congrats on all the success you deserve it and you do a wonderful job. Before we go. We like to ask our guests besides wife, kids familial affairs, what’s the best day of your whole life?
Oh man, best day Alright getting I got to run the Kona Ironman in Hawaii. That was the coolest thing. It’s a world championships and I am not fast enough to qualify for that race. But I got invited to raise money for the Leukemia Lymphoma, Lymphoma Society on their team. And to get to go it’s like getting to go throw a pitch in the World Series or throw a pass. You know, Super Bowl is this was the big one and they let some average age group or like me do it now. hardest day also took me over 14 hours to finish it. But absolutely the coolest day I can think
of that might have been why it’s the best two. Yeah, yeah.
Just thanks. I’ve experienced that. You can’t. You can’t really explain to somebody who hadn’t. And nuns have like the biggest challenge. Oh, yeah, well done. John. John.