To lead the effort for future growth and development of new restaurants, Ted’s Montana Grill recently brought on Jeff Heath as vice president of operations.
Prior to joining the chain, Heath had more than 21 years in the restaurant industry at Bloomin’ Brands. He recently served as the regional vice president of Bonefish Grill where he led the brand through periods of growth, including the opening of more than 175 new locations. He won several awards at Bonefish including the 2015 MenuMasters Award for an industry best menu revamp, Partner of the Year and the Parker Award for his lasting contributions to the brand and future generations. Prior to Bonefish Grill, Heath held various operations leadership roles at Outback Steakhouse.
Co-founded in 2002 by Ted Turner and George W. McKerrow, the classic American grill chain is headquartered in Atlanta and has a current total of 45 locations in 17 states.
Where do you see growth opportunities for Ted's Montana Grill?
Ted’s Montana Grill continues to expand our locations in new and existing markets due to the ongoing success of our restaurants. At the end of 2015, we celebrated our accomplishment of 21 consecutive quarters of same store sales growth. We look forward to bringing our Big Sky Spirit to Charlotte and Christiana, and more markets in the near future.
What are some of the challenges you anticipate while working toward that goal?
Overall, the restaurant industry faces many challenges. When building a restaurant, external factors such as weather and construction timelines can impact development.
What kind of properties will you/Ted's be searching for?
We continuously seek vibrant areas in a “live, work, play” community. Ted’s Montana Grill also has many sustainability initiatives in place and supports our local farmers. We strive to align with properties with those same values.
What other development goals do you see as part of this role?
Ted’s is already known for its genuine hospitality but it is essential to ensure each and every guest has the most memorable, personalized dining experience. To keep our guests coming back, we must always find ways to enhance their experience.
We do this by offering ongoing, in-depth training classes, listening to our guest feedback and treating every restaurant as its own business. In addition, we continue to offer new menu items such as our seasonal selections, fresh fish, chef’s features and more.
What excited you about joining Ted's Montana Grill?
From the inspirational team to the Ted’s philosophy, there are many reasons I joined Ted’s. The spirited team is comprised of hard-working, passionate individuals committed to serving honest food accompanied with genuine hospitality.
And it takes a special person to work at our restaurants – there are no shortcuts. The details are everything – the small things are the big things at Ted’s. We use honest ingredients, never use frozen pouches or microwaves, and always hand-prepare dishes throughout the day to ensure premium freshness. The team takes pride in everything they do. In turn, that makes me proud.
How do you feel your career experiences dovetail with this opportunity?
I have vast experience in high-growth concepts and set the standard for exceeding company performance targets. The vast knowledge I have gained in the past markets where I have opened restaurants will also play a vital role in our growth and development.
What are some of your best practices for increasing brand loyalty and strengthening guest loyalty?
Overall, it comes down to finding ways to overcome all obstacles, stealing share and understanding our guests’ needs while continuously enhancing our training programs. It is also essential to listen to our team by understanding any challenges they may face, and finding solutions that make their daily responsibilities more efficient. When we continuously build their knowledge with the right education and training tools, they become more spirited and positive, resulting in a more dynamic workplace.
What career accomplishments are you most proud of and why?
Being recognized for developing successful leaders at all levels and watching their career advancements. I am also very proud to be a part of the growth and success of two founder-inspired brands committed to high quality and standards while putting people first.
Photo courtesy of Ted's Montana Grill location in Alpharetta, GA.