Whether you’re living in Seattle or just visiting the city, you’ve probably been to one of Tom Douglas’ restaurants. A household name here in Seattle and winner of three James Beard awards, Tom opened his first restaurant, the Dahlia Lounge, in 1989. Today, with his wife and partner, Jackie Cross, Tom now owns nearly 20 restaurants all over the city, serving a variety of unique and interesting dishes that showcase the endless variety of ingredients available here in the Pacific Northwest.
With the fast pace and creative demands of the restaurant industry, there’s no better person than Tom Douglas to talk about defying convention. And it was a big treat for the Weber Shandwick Seattle team that Tom was able to take a moment out of his busy schedule and stop by our office, in order to share his experience in the restaurant business, and how he has been able to find success from very humble beginnings.
Food & Community
As a restaurateur, Tom firmly believes that you have to stand up for yourself and your business. And that while much goes into running a restaurant, the food is always what’s most important.
“Food is everything for us. The intensity of artistry of our chefs is what fascinates me,” Tom said. He’s also a big believer in giving back to the community that’s enabled his success, telling the Weber team that we all need to give back in our own way.
In the 25 years since he’s opened his first restaurant, many things has changed – including the impact of being social media and online reviews. While there are always naysayers, Tom believes that reviews can be informative and help improve this business. At the end of the day, he argued, if you serve deliciousness with graciousness, people will come. And in case you’re curious, fellow foodies: yes, he’s okay with your eggs-benedict-and-coffee Instagram pictures — though he’s not about to start doing that himself.
What were some other things we learned from Tom’s entertaining and inspiring talk?
- Preparedness meets opportunity: His key to success is simply to “get up and show up every day.”
- People matter: Tom also stressed the importance of team as both an inspiration for him and to deliver the best experience to their customer. “Without the dishwasher, I couldn’t do my job,” said Tom. “And without me, the dishwasher couldn’t do his job.”
- Seriously, his favorite pie: Tom’s favorite pizzas from Serious Pie are the Yukon Gold Potato and the Sweet Fennel Pepper —heavy on pepper, light on the chilies (you can see it pictured above).
Tom also sat down with the Weber Shandwick Seattle video team to answer a few questions. Check out the video below for a snippet of our conversation with Tom:
A huge thank you to Tom for taking the time to sit down with us, and for being a part of our Seattle community!
(image credit: TomDouglas.com)