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Member on the Menu Spotlight: Geoff Tracy

December 11, 2015

RAMW Member Spotlight

Geoff Tracy

Creator of the Chef Geoff group of restaurants.   New York Times Best Selling Author (one week in the tenth position).  Overwhelmed father of three kids aged 7,7 and 6.  Acceptable husband who tries hard.  Exercise and bacon fanatic.  Adept alpine skier who plays too much golf.  Outgoing Chairman of the RAMW. 

What is the hardest part about owning and opening a restaurant?

That would be finding the capital to do it in the first place.  I bootstrapped my first five locations with a little bit of bank debt and without any investors or partners. 

The hardest part of owning a restaurant?

It’s a nickel and dime business even if you are a great operator.  Maintaining profitability is extremely challenging. 

…and the most rewarding part of opening and owning?

Realizing you have created something from nothing and that hundreds of thousands of guests are going to have fun in this little project you have gambled almost everything to create.

Where do you look for inspiration when putting your menu together?

Usually at the bottom of a bottle of wine.  And of course from all the talented chefs on my team.  Every seasonal menu change includes at least ten major contributing chefs.

How are your restaurants influenced by the neighborhoods they are located in?

My motto from the start has been Great Food, Libation, and Merriment.  I have always wanted to do chef driven food in a very unpretentious way.  That works well in every neighborhood. 

How did you get started in the business? What was your first job in the industry and what did you learn from it?

I was 17 years old and was a busser in a bustling bistro in Hartford, CT.  I learned that if you were smart, worked really hard, and smiled a lot . . . you could make a lot of money in the hospitality business. 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’m at a crossroads in my career right now.  I have to decide whether to maintain the great thing I have right now or go big.  If I go big, I’m going to need to seek investors or partners who share my vision and have a boatload of money and brains.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

When I was 26 years old I asked my mentor how many years I should work for someone else before going out on my own?  He said, “The time is now.”  I quit my job that year and opened my first restaurant when I was 27.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I would love to own a construction company.  I like the idea of being able to build things that other people can enjoy.

What song always makes you happy?

The Star Spangled Banner

What’s your favorite DC spot?

The 18th green of the Blue Course at Congressional Country Club.

What is your favorite ingredient?

Uh, bacon. Where have you been the last ten years?

You’re hosting a dream dinner party.  What three people would be at your table?

Thomas Jefferson, Ayn Rand, Jackie Robinson

It’s the last meal of your life  - what’s on your plate?

Pizza from Regina’s Pizzeria in the North End of Boston.  I would eat a lot of it.  You would be amazed how much pizza I could eat if the calories didn’t matter.  And I would drink a six pack of ridiculously cold Budweiser from a can.

What are your pet peeves?

Speed cameras, inconsiderate people, and “reply all”.

What is your favorite way to give back to the community?

Mentoring kids in entrepreneurship or restaurants. 

What’s your favorite go-to junk food?

Partially frozen chocolate chip cookies.