In an industry where more than two-thirds of the new entrants fail within the first year and a geographic market that is recognized as a hotbed of competition, the Southern Californian restaurants, Hennessey’s, have proven to be a resounding success – demonstrating atypical longevity and prosperity.
Since being founded in 1976 by Paul Hennessey, an entrepreneurial former Wall Street stock trader, Hennessey’s Tavern, Inc. has grown from a single location in Hermosa Beach, Calif. into a diversified group spread throughout Southern California and Las Vegas that today includes: 10 Hennessey’s Tavern and H.T Grill operations, as well as the renowned Lighthouse Cafe jazz club and The Fish Bucket & Mickie Finnz – casual “beachy” concepts, along with a Live Music Venue and Brass the Lounge, downtown Las Vegas.
The company’s sales have risen rapidly, as well, since its early days. Hennessey’s Tavern, Inc. projects total revenues for 2011 to exceed expectations, given the still down economy.
Mr. Hennessey credits the company’s success to the fact that it has found a market niche and not deviated from it, even as Hennessey’s Tavern, Inc. has continued to expand. He said he believes his dining and drinking establishments emphasize good food and ambience, but shun the flash-in-the-pan trends and gimmicks that are common among his competitors. The final product, Mr Hennessey believes, is the traditional cozy or clubby feel indigenous to Irish or English pubs.
“I saw the need for nice gathering places with relaxing environments,” Mr. Hennessey, referring to the Southern California market niche that he has captured and stamped with his own name. “We have consciously shunned trends and gimmicks, and I think that is a large part of why we are still around, while so many of my competitors have come and gone. Our restaurants are about our people. We ensure that our staff are more than just order takers or food deliverers. They offer true Irish Hospitality. Our staff have become our extended family, along with our guests”.
No coincidence, either, are the Hennessey’s locations. Strategically situated in coastal communities of Southern California, stretching from the South Bay to San Diego – all communities with highly favorable demographics of younger, more affluent consumers. The spring of 2006 saw a new geographical location, Las Vegas,Nv. Downtown Las Vegas hosts four new company locations, including a Hennessey’s Tavern, Mickie Finnz, LVCS (live music venue), and Brass the Lounge – a trendy destination to sit and sip.
Hennessey’s Tavern, Inc. expansion has been steady and closely controlled. The opening of the Hermosa Beach Hennessey’s Tavern in 1976 was followed, less that two years later, by the opening of the company’s second location in Redondo Beach. Since then, the company has added new operations – from Manhattan Beach to San Diego (Gaslamp Quarter)- through start up and acquisition at a rate of approximately one every couple of years.
H.T. Grill, with its upscale Napa-style dining and decor, opened in 1987, and has since moved down the street from it’s original location, to embrace the growing popularity. The company’s specialty operation, The Lighthouse Cafe was acquired in 1989. Almost a decade ago another concept was opened – three “Beachy, Casual” restaurants called Mickie Finnz & The Fish Bucket.
Unlike many of its competitors that expand rapidly to satisfy investors or financial projections, Hennessey’s Tavern, Inc. applies no such pressure to its own operations. According to Mr. Hennessey, expansion occurs only when the right opportunity presents itself, and since the company is closely held and has no outside investors, it is able to move rapidly to capitalize on good prospects.