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PEOPLE TO WATCH 2014: Seth Makowsky

Founder, Makowsky Restaurant Group

PEOPLE TO WATCH 2014: Seth Makowsky

F&B revenues slumping? Let Seth Makowsky prime the gaming pump.

The New York native, who now lives in Los Angeles, continues to shine as the founder and force behind the Makowsky Restaurant Group. It has specialized in restructuring, advancing and creating restaurant companies over the past 15 years. Gaming increasingly uses his expertise to enhance business, especially now that 95 percent of patrons live within a two-hour drive of casinos.

Amenities become prominent vehicles of property separation, and restaurants rank high in the amenity “food chain.” Indeed, food-and-beverage excellence has become more important than ever to retain and recruit customers. That’s why gaming companies tap Makowsky. He helps companies upgrade their restaurant profile.

“We love the opportunity to transform underperforming spaces into landmark restaurants,” he says. “Our formula is to benchmark the very best and develop gold mines within non-traditional environments like airports, casinos, theme parks, etc. All are aimed at creating a win-win-win environment that improves profitability, increases market share and keeps guests coming back.

“We listen to F&B and truly seek to understand their needs,” Makowsky says. “We want to be their best business ally that creates sustainable value. Our goal is to form a win-win alliance aimed at driving optimal performance and outstanding guest experience.”

Win-win involves the execution of a shared vision. Let employees buy into the process and unveil the company’s new approach to customers.

“You want to delight guests in a way that creates loyalty 100 percent of the time,” Makowsky indicates. “Our approach to achieving extraordinary results is to first learn what makes the system work, evaluate the pathway towards optimal performance, and engage employees. Next, we benchmark the very best and clearly identify value adding needed. And we sustain performance through a culture of systematic improvement, strict standardization, and empowering employees and management. Our involvement sets the stage for executives and managers to shine.”

What does all this have to do with a meal? Everything. Dining can be used to comp a loyal customer or boost the experience of a patron who lost heavily. It is a service tool for casino hosts and a sales tool for the property. Players should view restaurants as a sure bet, especially—in the casino’s view—if it is the last experience one will have prior to leaving.

Makowsky started his career with the Coca-Cola Company and then joined Food Systems Unlimited as vice president of administration, operations, construction and leasing. He also attended Goizueta Business School at Emory University.

Robert Earl, the Planet Hollywood kingpin, became a major force in his career.

“He’s been a mentor since I started my career in the restaurant business,” Makowsky says. “Robert appointed me president and CEO of Earl of Sandwich at the time when the Aladdin transformed into the new Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. With a dedicated and passionate team we ramped up growth by focusing on non-traditional growth in airports, theme parks, casinos, malls and service plazas. We developed a culture of continuous improvement, removing bottlenecks and consistently exceeding performance targets.

“The result was several of the highest-grossing quick-service restaurants in the world. That includes the Earl of Sandwich at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, Atlantic City, Downtown Disney Marketplace in Orlando, and Anaheim, Disney Village in Paris, and top airports and travel plazas around the world.”

Casino Connection Sports Editor Dave Bontempo is an award-winning sports writer and broadcaster who calls boxing matches all over the world. He has covered the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs, as well as numerous PGA, LPGA and Seniors Golf Tour events, and co-hosted the Casino Connection television program with Publisher Roger Gros.

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