Executive Chat with Rebecca Patt, SVP Development at Wray Executive Search
Featuring Geovannie Concepcion, President & CEO of The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille
The Greene Turtle is a sports bar & grille franchise concept with 44 units, founded in 1976, based in Columbia, MD.
Tell us about your career trajectory since graduating DePaul University in 2008 and how you became CEO of Greene Turtle?
My road into the hospitality industry was a winding one. I graduated with a degree in accounting and my first job after graduating from DePaul in 2008 was at Lehman Brothers. That initial experience definitely colored my view of the world and I think plays a large part in what attracts me to turnaround work. After Lehman I spent several years working in the hedge fund and private equity space. While working in private equity the opportunity presented itself to join the operating team for Famous Dave’s. I’ve always had a desire to help build an operating business and working on the management team allowed me to do that. At Dave’s we faced many of the common casual dining and legacy concept challenges but more importantly we found ways to reinvigorate and rejuvenate the brand. After several years at Dave’s and eventually taking the COO post the opportunity presented itself to run the Greene Turtle.
What are some of the initiatives you’re working on at Greene Turtle that you are most proud of?
I’m most proud of implementing a development and people first approach. I’m a big believer that people must come first and providing the right mix of guidance and latitude to allow people at all levels to have a big impact on the organization is the key to long term success. In terms of concept specific initiatives, we currently have over half of our stores in some form of menu test as we prepare for a repositioning in 2020. Our franchisees have embraced our efforts with open arms and are working collaboratively with us to improve our guest experience. In addition to our menu initiatives we’re also looking to refresh several of our stores and design a new prototype. The excitement around all these initiatives across the organization makes my super proud.
What is the most interesting thing that you have experienced as CEO of Greene Turtle?
Given our connections to sports and concentration in the Baltimore DC area I would have to say the World Series was most interesting. Part of what makes sports so fascinating are those once in a lifetime moments we all get to experience together, and the Nationals did just that winning the World Series in dramatic fashion. The Greene Turtle is a gathering place for these experiences and to be a part of our guests’ memories is very special.
You’ve worked with two legacy brands, Greene Turtle and Famous Dave’s, to help them succeed in the modern era. What do you think are some of the keys for legacy brands to focus on to stay relevant and competitive?
When legacy brands begin to struggle in many cases it’s because the culture of the organization became stagnant. Additionally, if we look around the business landscape across industries staying power has become more and more rare whether that’s being a member of the S&P 500 or a chain restaurant concept. In order to remain relevant, the culture needs to be entrepreneurial and you must refocus on those elements that made you great to begin with. At the Greene Turtle we built our reputation as a place to have a great time in a friendly environment. That will never change, and we need to make sure we’re constantly delivering on that promise while evolving around it.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
Spending time with my daughter Elia, boxing and poker are all big passions of mine. These days the focus is on Elia which has also been a great tool for revisiting my assumptions on effective negotiating.
Rebecca Patt specializes in retained executive search for the restaurant industry with Wray Executive Search. Need to hire an ace executive for your team? Email her at email@example.com.
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