I’m was recently in Aspen, Colorado visiting friends and ran into a remarkable entrepreneur at dinner. We were at Elevation Restaurant and Bar and I had the privilege of meeting the owner, Mr. Tommy Tollesson. Tommy’s restaurant has been a success in Aspen for over ten years. This is remarkable because the clientele in Aspen is f-i-c-k-l-e!
I pulled Tommy aside later in the evening and asked him if he would share with me his philosophy for success. He started to rattle off a list of ideas like he had been asked this question a thousand times. I think the reality of it was that he was just speaking his truth and it came easy.
First, he said, “You have to have a vision. You have to know what you are going to create, be consistent and stick with it.” You can’t flip flop. You can change and adjust to new trends and introduce new items to your “menu” but you still need to be consistent.
Second, he said you can’t be stubborn. You have to be willing to take constructive criticism and adjust accordingly. There is a simple humility that Tommy has and I believe he really meant you need to be humble in order to be open to criticism. Tommy isn’t flashy and if you were new to his restaurant you would think he was the manager, not the owner. I mean this to be a compliment.
Lastly, Tommy said, you need to know your clientele. “Aspen isn’t Las Vegas”, he said. “We can’t cater to 25 year olds. We have to cater to a more mature audience in order to be successful for ten years.” Aspen is fickle as I spelled out earlier. Restaurants come and go. Those that last as long as Elevation build a loyal base of patrons and it’s because they know what to expect when they make a reservation.
If you ever get a chance to visit Aspen, be sure to visit Tommy at Elevation Bar and Grill. I think you’ll see for yourself why he’s a success.
Recap of Tommy’s 3 Keys To Success
1. Have a vision
2. Don’t be stubborn
3. Know your clientele
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