Los Cabos owner, Jimmy Blacketer, and Reza Ghavami, Curtis Restaurant Supply
Growing up in the restaurant business suits Jimmy Blacketer. His passion for food and delighting customers is apparent the second he starts talking about his restaurants. He, along with his business partner and brother, Jeb Blacketer, owns four Tulsa-area restaurants; Waterfront Grill in Jenks, OK, and three Los Cabos Mexican Grill and Cantinas in Broken Arrow, Jenks, and Owasso, OK.
The newest Los Cabos Mexican Grill and Cantina in Owasso is different from the other restaurants because it was built in a former Delta Cafe location in a strip center rather than as new construction.
Blacketer says, “We looked at this project as a remodel rather than creating a $6 million debt with a new building. We felt like Owasso was a fair-sized market where we could do a smaller restaurant and expand on it if needed.”
Phase one of the restaurant, which opened May 7, 2013, seats 230 people and was embraced by the community with record sales.
Blacketer says, “The response from the people who live in Owasso, Claremore, and other surrounding areas has been so positive. In fact, they said, ‘It’s great that you are coming, we are so excited–where’s your patio?’ They wanted to know where their patio was.”
Waterfront Grill and the other two Los Cabos restaurants in Jenks and Broken Arrow have expansive patios with cantina bars and entertainment areas for seasonal live music.
“That was one of the major points we faced. So, after we got phase one opened, we got to work on giving our customers the patio they desired,” he says.
Any construction project starts many months ahead of time working with an architect, contractor and suppliers. However, the demand from Los Cabos’ customers was so great, Blacketer and his team completed phase one on May 7th and was under construction for phase two by October 1st.
He says, “Phase two got jump-started a little sooner than planned, not just out of customer desire for a patio, but when speaking to other restaurant owners in the area, they all said there was a great need for holiday party space, which the new patio room would provide. We had already made the decision to purchase the neighboring space to build a patio room in the spring, but pushed up construction to accommodate the holiday crowd. Of course we used many of the same vendors and suppliers, like Curtis Restaurant Supply, who know our process and expectations, but we definitely got phase two done fast.”
The patio room seats 120, and was completed the first of December. It has a full service tequila bar, live palm trees, multi-level sky colored ceiling, and a wall of windows on two sides of the room to create an outdoor atmosphere in off-season months. In warmer months, the outdoor patio will open to an additional 120+ seats and will provide live music.
As a native Oklahoman, Blacketer was eager to satisfy the needs of his local customers.
He says, “It’s interesting. We handed out free gift cards to hotel managers and concierges all along the 71st and Memorial corridor, and most said they do not recommend national chains. No one knew we are a locally-owned company. They all assumed we were some large national brand. Although we might have a sophisticated brand, we go into communities where we live. We are Oklahomans, we grew up here, and it’s important to us for people to know we are local.”
It’s another reason why they choose other local companies to build and supply their restaurants.
He says, “We are heavy into relationships. When we started to expand, we had every company under the sun, from coffee companies to contractors, come to us for the business. I had one standard answer for them all. It’s all about loyalty. Once you have our business–you aren’t going to lose our business. There’s always a salt and pepper shaker that is a dime cheaper, but for us, it’s all about the relationships we have built.”
Blacketer chose Curtis Restaurant Supply early on. He says it’s about knowing and trusting the people he works with and knowing the job will get done and done right. Reza Ghavami has been with Curtis Restaurant Supply for six years and is Blacketer’s account manager. They have worked together on several projects and the respect is mutual.
Ghavami says, “Jimmy and his team are very impressive business people. They have an objective to meet and surround themselves with people to help them get to that goal. Their expectations are high, and sometimes it doesn’t look like we will make it, but because of the respect and trust they have in us, we work very hard to make sure the job is done right and to exceed their expectations. I always look forward to the next project because I know the challenges we have been through and how the project turned out. It’s extremely satisfying.”
Blacketer says, “We build restaurants. That’s our job. And there’s a lot of stress that goes along with that. So, when you are dealing with 10 things at once, you want to be able to sleep good at night. For example, here’s a table that needs to be delivered on this date at 10 o’clock. There’s another order that needs to be here on this date at this time. It’s important to have professionals who will ensure things happen as they should and on time.”
Ghavami says, “They set expectations high, and as vendors, we appreciate it. Although they are an independent, locally-owned company, they run their business like a large national chain.”
Blacketer says, “Everything we do is first class and that comes at a cost, so having suppliers like Curtis Restaurant Supply that we can trust is critical as we move forward with more restaurants.”
He and his management team are currently looking at a downtown Tulsa project and several out-of-state locations. Blacketer is excited about the future and the enjoyment his restaurants give to its patrons.
He says, “When you celebrate; you eat, relax, and have fun. That’s what we are all about. We want you to come and celebrate with family and friends, and have a great experience without worrying about slow service or average food. We offer excellent service, top quality food, in a great facility.”