Thursday, November 28, 2013

Many, Many Thanks...

For the fire in our bellies.
For the song in our souls.
For the time spent together.
For the love of our families.
For a sense of humor.
For the hope in our hearts.
For the many years to come.
For the rhythm and the blues.
For the passion and the journey.
For our flaws and vulnerabilities.
For undying friendship.
For good health and prosperity.
For laughter and love.
For a light in the darkness.
For our children and their laughter.
For the privilege to serve.
For the kindness of strangers.
For the encouragement of our guests.
For patience and pride.
For humility and grace.
For the differences between us.
For unity and teamwork.
For a job well done.
For those that came before us.
And for those not here with us anymore.

From our family to yours…have a wonderful holiday season from all of us at JJ’s Red Hots.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

my brother's keeper

I have known a lot of these guys for damn near 30 years. Many of us went to college together, pledged a fraternity together, grew up together, played music together, lived together, dated some of the same women, won and lost on the rugby pitch together, got into fights together, had our faces slapped at bars together, drank together, woke up in the same bed, went to each other’s weddings, and spent way too many late nights and early mornings together in the spirit of camaraderie.  We’ve shared meals, went on road trips, and flew on planes together. Went to the beach, went to the mountains, played golf in exotic locales and hung out on the couch. We’ve been arrested together, and bailed each other out of jail. We’ve taken each other to the hospital. There are a few broken bones and too many stitches to count. This group probably has 40 kids among us. That’s just fucking scary. But we’ve always taken care of each other. And I am lucky to have them in my corner. Thanks for always being there, gents. And stay well until we see each other again.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

October, ya dum dum...

October was stupid. A hulking beast of a month. A hapless boob. A relentless, stubborn, annoying and seemingly endless chunk of time. Stultifying. I. Mean. It. Just. Never. Stopped.

But it is over, and it was the greatest month in the short history of our brand.

In any young growing business, there are specific months/weeks/moments that stand out above all. Where so much careens past you at such an incredible rate of speed that it is extremely difficult to even capture, much less comprehend.  October 2013 was such a month for us, and years from now, we will remember it as an historic month for JJ’s Red Hots.

I am not exactly sure what happened, but I think October was really about three things - leadership, learning and execution. I know for a fact the following stuff did actually occur, as it is a matter of public record. It is in the ether:

  • I spent some time with great leaders like Joe Essa, Randy Brashier, Louis Basille, Don Fox, Ted Balestreri, Doug Brooks, Jon Luther Sr., and Dick Marriott. Such great people and wonderful mentors for us.
  • Brandy Newton, Director of Marketing and Events and I went to New Orleans for the Fast Casual Summit. New Orleans had our full attention, and we learned and shared ideas in a really well executed forum. Congrats, Cherryh Butler for a great event. And what a town. New Orleans can surely teach you a few things, mon cher!
  • We had a record month of events. Turns out people love Frank the Tank. ( We set some revenue records and established our catering business as a bona fide revenue and profit driver. A special thanks to Jen Lover and the folks at the Providence Day Fall Fest, for believing in us. And to Brandy Newton for changing the game and the playing field for us. Inspiring work. And fun to watch.
  • We improved our operation. We hired a new GM for our Dilworth location, Michael Swenson – who has instantly made a hugely positive difference in our operation. Michael understands leadership and service at a profound level and we are getting better every single day. We also promoted Sam Gomez to Kitchen Manager, who has really earned his way to this promotion. Well done, Sam!
  • Finally, we had our biggest single day of sales on the day of our Second Annual SausageFest. Thanks to all of the brewers who came out in support: Unknown, OMB, Triple C and NODA. Right about now is a really good time to be a beer drinker and a sausage eater in Charlotte, NC. Just sayin'...
But there were both highs and lows. We parted ways with some people who had been with us since the beginning, which is always tough, but sometimes necessary - for both parties. Still, their influence remains, and I will never forget their contribution to our brand. Thank you.

And a quick note to all of our JJ’s supporters. We obviously could not do this without the incredible support of our guests and our crew. Thanks to all who believe in what we are doing as much as we do.

Now…on to NovemBEER!

It is shaping up to be another great month at JJ’s and we have some exciting offerings to tell you about.

Look for our soon to be famous '3-2-1' specials. Every day, we will be featuring a $3 Craft/$2 Draft/$1 Can specials in both of our restaurants, so PAY ATTENTION!

This month we are featuring our SF 2013 winner – the Korean Bulgogi – which we are serving with an Asian “Chinois” Slaw – inspired by our friends at Wolfgang Puck Restaurants – and a snappy Wasabi Aioli.

We are also celebrating fall with a nice Puree of Sweet Potato Soup served with Chive oil.

As always, look for some creative ‘Dogs of the Week’ – upcoming offerings include “Yam I AM” – with Chili, sweet potato fries and sriracha mayo, and our FRANKSGIVING –with sage stuffing and cranberry mayo.

See ya soon...


New Orleans. That's Brandy and I with Chef Paul Prudhomme at K-Pauls. (top left)
 Friggin' Halloween...

 Me and Bill Nelson..the adopted 'Mayor of Metairie' and a great host, at Herbsaint

 The Howlin' Wolf


 Unheeded sidewalk Advice in the Garden District, New Orleans