A Toast To The Community
Bob Sinnott was looking for more. Not just more excitement from a career in accounting, but also from restaurant concepts that are content to produce the status quo.
Now the owner of Toasted Coffee + Kitchen in Dallas, Texas, Sinnott is manifesting his ambition.
Out of college, Sinnott found himself working with hospitality clients, which he says was a necessary way to spice up his mundane occupation.
“I think I had the wherewithal to immediately sort of recognize that even though I’m a numbers guy, accounting is not that exciting, so I at least wanted to be in an exciting industry,” he said. “So, I latched on to the right group.”
Beginning his professional life at KPMG and moving onto a career in various executive roles in the hospitality world, Sinnott finally had his fill in 2016, and decided to open his own restaurant.
“[It was] a midlife crisis for sure. I was CFO of a public company, didn’t really like that, the shortsightedness of quarter-to-quarter earnings, no long-term agenda, just make the numbers this quarter,” Sinnott said. “I kind of thought, ‘I want to do this myself’, I was approaching 50 [years old], I’m over 50 now, and it’s now or never.”
After decades in the hospitality industry, the soft-spoken Dallas native wanted to take what he learned and turn it into his own creation.
First, he had to find a concept, though.
Sinnott was inspired by an artisanal toast shop in San Francisco, or ‘ground zero for creativity’ in the restaurant industry as he calls it. Not far from his home in East Dallas, he found a former Glidden Paint Co. store and re-purposed it into an industrial themed coffee house on the corner of Greenville and Ross Avenue.
Artisanal toast distinguishes the restaurant, but in a city that spends among the most money in restaurants per capita than any in the country, Sinnott knew he needed to provide something different.
“More than just an original concept, I wanted to capitalize on some other trends,” he said. “A lot of millennials nowadays don’t have a traditional office. Their employers expect them to be out making sales, meeting clients, so they travel.”
Sinnott scaled Toasted gradually, starting with coffee and toast options, and now offers a menu for each meal of the day and a full bar. Hiring local musicians has also been a way Toasted has tried to become a full-time communal space for the Lower Greenville area.
“I’ve seen people here for breakfast lunch and dinner,” he said. “There is no time in the day where this restaurant is empty.”
A restaurant only works as well as it is run, however. With a restaurant that provides the variety that Toasted offers, this can be difficult. Sinnott still pulls on his past to create what he says is the restaurant of the future.
“The people at the restaurant need to be listened to. They are the ones there day after day talking to customers. Never think you are above what your employees say. Get their opinion. It also motivates them that they have a voice,” he said. “So, it’s not what me and my 50-year-old friends think, you know we have a younger demographic here and I want to know what they think.”
Ultimately it is the consumer experience that makes Toasted successful, but several business-to-business elements drive the restaurant.
Partnerships with local craft breweries and Noble Coyote Coffee power the restaurant’s beverage operation, and with scratch-made bread, Toasted doubles as a full bakery, needing all the materials and machinery that goes with it.
“We buy flour. We do the whole thing. So, we mix it, bake it, the whole thing in-house. It’s made fresh that day,” Sinnott said of his kitchen operation.
Another challenge, but something that excites Sinnott, is the versatility of his workforce. He says that with the competition in Dallas, there is an expectation of superior customer service from diners. Like Santa Claus encouraging his reindeer, Sinnott lists off the characters he needs behind his counter.
“We have a lot of skills here. We have baristas, we have bartenders, we have bakers, we have cooks, so that does add an element, but it also gives employees growth to learn several disciplines,” he said.
This diversity is the ethos of Sinnott’s business model. An extensive food, beverage and entertainment restaurant that is also conducive to modern professionals may seem too expansive, but he says it ultimately boils down to one theme.
“People like to come to a coffee house that has more than coffee,” he said.
If Sinnott is correct that Toasted is a glimpse into the restaurant of the future, perhaps he will turn a few more accountants into hospitality leaders.
To find out more about the Toasted experience make sure to visit their site.
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