Chart House, Restaurants

At the time he joined Self Service Restaurant, Inc. in 1970, it had approximately 30 restaurants.  However, they acquired another market area later that same year, which brought the number up to 83.

As Director of Real Estate for the Gulf Coast Region, he first located real estate sites for them in Louisiana, Mississippi, Houston and Virginia.  In 1974 Rocky was promoted to Vice President of Real Estate, making him in charge for locating all the companies’ future sites, for all markets envisioned for franchising Burger King.

That same year, Self Service Restaurants, Inc. merged with Chart House Enterprises, a steak chain of restaurants, and changed their name to Chart House, Inc.  With Rocky on board and at the helm, the company opened 46 Burger King Restaurants that year.  Quite impressive for anyone to accomplish, however, with time being of the essence, this phenomenal goal could not have been achieved without having the use of an airplane at his discretion and having a phenomenal support team.  They were an extremely knowledgeable, dedicated, hard-working bunch with a team player and positive go-get-m attitude.  With offices located in New Orleans, Chicago, Illinois and Norfolk, Virginia, Rocky kept busy with the yearly challenges and deadlines to deliver a certain number of restaurant locations.  Not to mention the hard work involved in meeting the expected company goals regarding construction and targeted opening dates of the various restaurant sites.  He had a full staff in each of these office locations, so he needed and had tremendous cooperation from everyone on his team.  This practice of unity and efficiency earned him the loyalty and respect of his employees and the turn-over rate was very low.   As usual and expected, his total dedication, determination, knowledge and willingness to accomplish what he sets out to do was very evident.

Rocky immerses all of his energy in whatever he wants to accomplish, but not without tremendous personal sacrifices and irreparable costs.  His hard work kept him away too much from his family and the stress of it all affected his health.  He was admitted in the hospital on January 5, 1975, suffering from ulcers, which resulted in the surgical removal of about 80% of his stomach and returned back to work in April 1975.

By the end of 1975, Chart House, Inc. had 237 Burger King Restaurants, which made them the largest franchisee with locations in Louisiana, the Gulf Coast area, Illinois, Virginia, Texas, California, the Florida Panhandle and sub-licensed others in North Illinois.  As the saying goes in the real estate business; Location! Location! Location! Of course the responsibility of all the site locations, building and operations of the restaurants fell directly on the real estate department.  As Vice President of Real Estate, Rocky did not take this responsibility lightly and successfully dealt with every challenge presented to him in acquiring exactly the right properties to be proven winners for the company.

Chart House, Inc. had grown to approximately 322 restaurants due to the combined leadership of excellence of its Chairman of the Board, Billy Trotter and President and Chief Executive Officer, B.I. Moody, III.

In 1975, Chart House, Inc. had also given Rocky more responsibilities by adding the construction aspect to his job description.  He immediately revised these guidelines, added new ones and saved the company about $30,000.00 dollars per construction contract of each Burger King Restaurant.  Even though his health had a setback, he was assigned additional job responsibilities and pretty much every aspect of his life had a full agenda.  Under his guidance and leadership, his real estate department delivered 27 new stores that year and had 6 more stores under construction.

The company growth continued in 1976 to an additional 37 new restaurants and the leadership of the company decided to construct new drive-thru windows to the previous-built restaurants.  Prior to the era of drive-thru windows, the restaurant property had to be smaller to accommodate the buildings design.  With the added responsibility of building new drive-thru windows to the older restaurant sites, also came more urgent negotiations with property owners next to this property to accommodate the new additions.  On many occasions land was nearly impossible to acquire because property owners price increased as the need for the additional land increased.  By year end, 103 such drive-thru installations were completed and proved to be a profitable decision.

Later in 1977, Rocky’s energy was spent from the increasing demands of the high profile position with the company and the extreme expectations and goals he set for himself.  Although, he knew that his goals with the company were realized, he had exhausted his body and health in the process.  It was time to succumb to the obvious, go home and spend some time with his family, as well as; get some rest and revive his energy.

After a much earned rest period, he continued his independently owned real estate development business and continued to handle a lot of the property site selections for Chart House, Inc. for Burger King Restaurants, as an independent contractor.   This relationship continued as they acquired Godfather’s Pizza in December, 1983, and changing the company name to DiversiFoods, Inc. until it was purchased in 1984 by the Pillsbury Corporation, the parent company of Burger King.

Rocky gained priceless knowledge and wonderful friendships during those years, for which he is forever very grateful.  The entire experience had a beneficial and valuable impact on how he structured his own company in an industry he loved and still loves today.  Most of all, he considers himself very fortunate in that most of his clients became lifelong friends and he continues to assist them even today in locating sites for their respective companies or developments.

During Rocky’s tenure with Chart House, he pioneered the art in selecting restaurant locations and was highly respected by his peers.  He implemented many procedures, guidelines and developed specific criteria as it applied to each type of restaurant.  He also set forth what demographics pertained to each restaurant concept.  From the initial restaurant that opened in 1963 until the sale of the company with name changes to Chart House, Inc. in 1974, then to Diversified Restaurants in 1983, it had grown to 1,350 restaurants consisting of several different restaurants in the chain.

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