At the Helm: John Tallichet

John Tallichet, president of Specialty Restaurant Corporation, Anaheim, Calif.

Generation of family ownership: Second.

Revenue: $110 million.

Number of employees: 2,500 full- and part-time.

Years with the company: 30 (fulltime).

First job at this company: Working as the salad boy at one of our restaurants, the 94th Aero Squadron in the San Fernando Valley, where I grew up. My brother and sister had washed dishes and told me to try and talk my way out of doing that.

Most memorable thing I learned from my father: My dad never graduated from college and thought he had to work harder than everyone else to be successful. He loved to negotiate and make deals, and as a kid, I watched him and sucked it all in. He also told me that you never learn anything while talking; you learn more when you listen. But he never followed his own advice.

Most memorable thing I learned from my mother: She’s always the person in the room asking, “How can we better the lives of our employees?” When we make decisions, she always wants to know how the choices affect them.

Best thing about this job: The interaction with our team and our guests, the stories I hear about them and the impact we’ve made in their lives over the years.

Our greatest success: Achieving 60 years in business. We learned to change with the times.

Best advice I ever got: Take time to stop and celebrate. In our business, just when you think you’ve got everything
figured out it can fall apart, so it’s tough to stop. But people work so hard in this industry that taking a break, celebrating successes and looking forward is important.

Quote from our company’s mission statement: To provide a memorable dining experience through delivering
uncompromised food, beverage and service combined with exceptional value with one-of-a-kind destination
locations.

On my wall: I have my dad’s office. There’s a painting of Winston Churchill behind the desk that he had over his fireplace. It reminds me that, like Churchill, my dad was persistent and he overcame a lot because of that.

One of my greatest accomplishments: Continuing the legacy at our Proud Bird restaurant. My dad was a B-17 pilot, and it has an aviation theme. A few years ago the lease was running out and we had to decide whether to keep it or not. We got a 20-year extension and did major renovations. Best thing about working in a family business: To be able to continue the founder’s story, why that person created it.

My advice for other family business leaders: Don’t take business personally. Keep it in perspective.

On a day off I like to… walk our dogs in the Back Bay in Newport Beach with my wife. We’re empty nesters.

Philanthropic causes our family supports: We strive to remain involved in our local communities. Over the last few years, we have donated over $250,000 to local charities, schools, and church organizations. These include the Salvation Army, Best Buddies International, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and the American Heart Association, plus more local organizations where we have properties.

I realized I had emerged from the previous generation’s shadow when… I don’t know if you ever do. Again, one of the great things about a family business is continuing the story of the founder. You need that shadow out there.

Future succession plans: We’re discussing this with our board, but it’s not yet clear. Like me, my brother has two children. We’ve identified who will take my place in the short run should something happen, but time
will tell if the kids will want to join the business or if we’ll look outside. Words I live by: Care about the people around you if you want to be successful.

—As told to Patricia Olsen

 

Issue: 
July/August 2018

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