Written by The Business Journal Staff
Fansler Restaurant Group
What we do: We develop restaurants for the Fresno market.
Education: Bachelor’s in business administration from San Diego State University.
What got you into the restaurant industry, Dave?
I’ve been in the restaurant business my entire adult life. I was an accounting major when I was at San Diego State and after I passed my exam to become a CPA, I pretty much determined I didn’t want to do that as a future. There was an opportunity to buy a restaurant, which was the Steak and Anchor out at the Piccadilly Inn by the airport, so I got started there in 1980.
How has the restaurant business changed in the past five years, Dave? Or has it?
It’s changed to the extent that there is more and more government regulation. That’s a very tough aspect of it. Plus business in general is more litigious environment; it’s getting more and more competitive. So you have to be on your game.
How do you separate yourself from the rest of the competition, Dave?
One thing I learned a very long time ago, and I stick to this, I don’t focus on making money, I focus on providing quality and value at the same time. As a result of that, we’ve become busy enough and consistent enough to maintain profits. So many people in the restaurant business think it’s easy money and they make good money for a while, but they can’t sustain it. So I just really focus on providing a unique experience, both value-wise and with great people servicing the guests.
What additional aspects are key to running a successful restaurant, Dave?
Consistency is very, very important, because people want to have confidence if they give you their hard-earned money that you’re going to deliver a good dining experience. So you have to have consistency. The key to consistency is to have low turnover in your staff. The key to having low turnover in your staff is that your staff has to be making money. So you really have to put yourself in the last position. You have to take care of the guests, you have to take care of your employees and everyone is happy, then you get to participate, but not until then. It’s important to make sure the staff is happy, because if you have high turnover, you’re constantly in training mode. If you’re constantly in training mode, you’re not going to give a consistent experience.
Do you feel the Central Valley workforce is able to provide you with enough quality employees, Dave?
I’ve done business all over the state and my belief is the Central Valley workforce is the most dedicated, hardest working, most available workforce in California. I really have my hand on the pulse of the workforces in the state and I’ll put Fresno up against anyone.
In your everyday course of business, do you feel the economy is showing signs of improvement, Dave?
It is showing signs of improvement. But I don’t really pay attention to the economy; I don’t make decisions based on the economy. I just feel there is always room for another great restaurant. I did Pismo’s when everyone thought the economy and the world was coming to an end and it was just a fantastic time to develop a restaurant because I was able to contract the workforce for less money, I was able to negotiate a lease for less money, so it worked out great.
What was your first job growing up and what did you learn from it, Dave?
My first job was working for my aunt at Airways Coffee Shop and I learned from that I had a natural tendency to enjoy cooking and taking care of people from a hospitality sense. I was 14 and I love to make the milkshakes and cook the hamburgers, as you do in a coffee shop at a golf course.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time, Dave?
I like to do a little bit of traveling. I like to stay active, work out, going to the gym, that sort of thing, spending time with my family and my girlfriend. I know quite a bit about wine, so I enjoy going out and doing a little wine tasting around the state.