“Everyone who is a multi-unit [owner] usually hires a chef,” Zislis says. “In Albuquerque, the menu has Green Hash Chili Burgers, and you go to Florida and you have different barbecue sauces and different fish. They do catfish. If I put catfish on the menu in California, people wouldn’t know what it was.”
This latitude to create location-specific offerings helps each menu stand out and takes regional flavor preferences into consideration, such as offering spicier fare in Southern states. Additionally, the interior design of each store features both the rock theme and local inspiration, such as the Hawaii store’s whaling village atmosphere. Zislis believes this freedom to explore within the concept is crucial to the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle the brand embodies.
“I don’t want to be the corporate guy that holds you to the corporate standard,” Zislis says. “I always want to be rock ‘n’ roll. I hate being corporate. I hate rules. Rock ‘n’ roll is about no rules.”
Rock music and all-inclusive entertainment are core pillars of the restaurant’s image, but food-first brand is committed to high-quality American comfort cuisine and excellent service.
Though the rock stars may be accustomed to receiving VIP treatment, in their various business ventures both Simmons and Stanley have learned that success is only achievable when the people buying the product, whether it’s albums and concert tickets or burgers and beers, feel like they matter.
“I tend to work from something that I call the ‘assumption of commonality,’ which means that most people are very much the same,” Stanley says. “If you address your needs, you’ll be addressing other people’s needs.”
Stanley noticed that when he took his family out for dinner, there weren’t many options that would cater to both children and adults, and he and the Rock & Brews team saw the opportunity for a concept that had a mission to be everything to everyone. In particular, they set out to create a restaurant environment that was child-friendly and pet-friendly.
“And when you add to that a great staff, you wind up with a situation where people don’t look to this as a one-time or a once-in-a-while meal, it becomes a lifestyle,” Stanley says.
By focusing on a restaurant-first approach and sourcing local produce, the brand stays true to its foodie roots. Customers find diverse menu choices from craft burgers and wings to salads and gluten-free and vegetarian options.
Another defining element in the Rock & Brews brand is its beverage selection. The menu features many local beers at each store, usually numbering between 50 and 100 depending on the location.
“There are no corners being cut,” Stanley says. “This is first and foremost a restaurant, and that’s what I’m proud of. Our fish tacos and pizzas are phenomenal. Our burgers are ridiculous. When we talk about sweet potato fries, we aren’t talking about orange fries. We have real sweet potatoes, and they taste like it. Everything is first-rate.”
Personally, he’s partial to the Demon Burger. A spicy dish inspired by the star’s stage personality, also called The Demon. “It’s hot and spicy,” Simmons says. “It tastes good, and is about as much fun as you can have with your pants on.”