The Eating...Our Words 100: Gary Adair, Restaurateur, Owner of Los Tios and Skeeter's Mesquite Grill
Gary Adair, owner of Los Tios and Skeeter's Mesquite Grill.
Photo by Henry Thiel
Who is he?
Owner of Los Tios Mexican Restaurants and Skeeter's Mesquite Grill, and, co-owner (along with his son Nick and daughter Katie) of Adair Kitchen. "I used to think of myself as a general manager, but now, with three different concepts, I guess I'm more of a restaurateur," says Adair. But he's quick to add that the latest Adair venture, Adair Kitchen, is more his children's project. "Believe me, they don't need my help," he says jovially.
Why does he love it?
"What I like most about business is dealing with the public," Adair says. "Especially for Skeeter's and Los Tios -- 25 and 43 years old, respectively -- you get a sense that your customers are the restaurant. We're talking second and third generations of patrons. Now, in many ways they know more about the restaurant than I do." In terms of managing restaurants of varying concepts, Adair speaks about targeting different customer bases as well as the expectations of counter-service (Skeeter's) versus full-service (Los Tios) establishments. "It's all the same language for restaurants," he says wisely, "just different dialects depending on the place."
What inspires him?
"Not to sound trite," which seems impossible given Adair's robust sincerity, he explains: "It's really the crew members that have been with us 20 or 30 years. Their tremendous work ethic and the pride they take in where they work -- that inspires me. I carry a sense that I have to make correct decisions because I am protecting their livelihoods. What also drives me is the challenge of running the restaurants efficiently and keeping them current but at the same time managing the expectations of loyal clientele. It's a moving target and you always have to be paying attention."
Who does he admire?
"I really admire the local folks -- people born and bred in Houston, mom-and-pop figures that have built fabulous restaurants," Adair says. "Johnny Carrabba, the Mandola clan, the Pappas family, Levi and Jim Goode. Also people that are under the radar, like Eddie Hendee of Taste of Texas restaurant. All incredible success stories. I respect them for owning establishments that maintain terrific reputations in the community."
How he busts his diet:
"Frenchy's Fried Chicken," says Adair. "That's my guilty pleasure. I became a big fan when I was a student at the University of Houston. Even today I will drive on a whim across town for Frenchy's Fried Chicken."
Says Adair, "2012 was the best year we've ever had. My goal now and in the future is always to make sure our restaurants are run as well as possible, so if another opportunity comes along, we can take advantage. I want to continue to please customers, improve our in-house service and enhance the overall dining experience. I want us to be on the top of our game."
The Eating...Our Words 100:
- Brane Poledica, Quattro and Vinoteca General Manager - Trancito Diaz, Chef and Owner at La Guadalupana - Randy Evans, Chef at Haven and Farm-to-Table Godfather - Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan, Chefs and Owners of The Pass & Provisions - Kaiser Lashkari, Owner and Chef of Himalaya Restaurant - Nicole and Michael Graham, Owners of The Garden Hen - Staci Davis, Owner of Radical Eats - Philippe Verpiand, Owner and Chef at Etoile Cuisine et Bar - Tyler Horne, Market Manager at Urban Harvest Farmers Market - Stephanie Earthman Baird, Bringing Wine to Cowboys - Yilmaz "Jim" and Deanna Dokuyucu, Husband-and-Wife Owners of Turquoise Grill - Dan Tidwell of Treebeards on Downtown Houston's Past, Present and Future - Kiran Verma, Executive Chef and Owner of Kiran's Restaurant & Bar - Catherine Rodriguez, Pastry Chef at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa - Jody Stevens, Owner and Cake Designer of jodycakes - Bobby Heugel, Owner of Anvil, Blacksmith, The Hay Merchant and OKRA's Charity Saloon - Renatta Lindsey, The Taste Contestant and Houston Home Cook - Enrique Bravo of Pollo Bravo on How Selling Chicken Helped Him Realize His American Dream - Sean Beck, Sommelier Extraordinaire - Brooksy Smith, Owner of JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers - Minh Nguyen, Owner of Cafe TH and One of Houston's Best Front-of-House Personalities - Tiffany Tyler and Aimee Turney of Central City Co-Op - Ellen Schwartz, Culinary Instructor & Private Chef - James DeLeon, Certified Sommelier and Craft Beer Nut at Kroger - Alex Padilla, Executive Chef at Ninfa's on Navigation - Kevin Strickland, Herder of Cats at gratifi, a.k.a. Ziggy's - Ron Chen, Owner and "Head Coach" at Rattan Pan-Asian Bistro - Brock Wagner, Godfather of Craft Beer in Houston and Founder of Saint Arnold Brewery, the Oldest Microbrewery in Texas - Blanche Kinze, Murray's Cheese Master at Kroger - Bear Dalton, Wine Buyer & Educator, Spec's - Sam Ray of Republic National, Houston's Largest Wine Distributor - Thai Van, Server Extraordinaire at Kata Robata - Dale Robertson, a Populist Among Wine Writers - Denman Moody, Author of The Advanced Oenophile - Benjy Mason, Executive Chef at Down House
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