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How are you managing Twin Peaks’ growth?

We opened 18 [units] last year off a base of 29. This year, we’re holding back to only allow 20 to open. We’re easily going to make that number. Next year we have an operational plan to open 23. We’ll let it go up to 26 in 2016. And 29 in 2017. We want to let it grow slowly up to the 30 per year number, and we think that will be our run rate. We think we have the training team and operational systems to execute that plan.

Jack Gibbons, chief operating officer, has returned to his role as president, succeeding Patrick Droesch, who left in May after about a year in the post. Any background there?

Patrick was with us almost exactly a year. It was a very amicable parting. He didn’t feel like the brand was a good fit for him. He remains in contact with us.

We have hired from the outside a couple of times at the president’s level, and it hasn’t worked out. We’re very much focused now on growing our own. We have an informal policy of promoting from within. That’s one of the reasons for holding back on the growth, not just letting it grow as fast as franchise interest is coming in.

What’s the status of the third Velvet Taco, which is planned for Chicago?

Our landlord is struggling with giving us vacant possession of the building. We’re eventually going to get open in Chicago. We opened the second Velvet Taco around the first of the year in Fort Worth. They are doing phenomenally well. We like slow growth in the early stages.

What about plans for Whiskey Cake, the casual-dining concept now in Plano, Texas, and Oklahoma City, Okla.?

We’re growing Whiskey Cake even slower. We’re under construction in San Antonio at the La Cantera Shops on the northwest side of town. It’s going to be the coolest one ever. That brand is doing great. The alcohol sales indicate we might be the busiest restaurant in Plano right now. It’s a very busy restaurant. The alcohol component for Whiskey Cake is in the mid-30s, which for a restaurant of its type is pretty healthy. That does help profitability and extends the dayparts with a strong happy hour and a really good dinner, of course, and a little bit of late night as well.

Lastly, tell me about your Mexican restaurant, Mexican Sugar, in Plano, which opened in November?

It’s a different take on Mexican. It’s not Tex Mex. It’s not spicy food. No melted cheese. It’s a pan-Latin menu passed through the filter of Mexico City.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless