After nearly three decades in Madison, what does growth look like for Food Fight Restaurant Group?
We’ve been here 29 years, with Monty’s Blue Plate Diner being the first and pretty much grown a restaurant per year. Some of them closed, so we have 21 total right now. One just opened this summer, Bar Corallini, and we’re working on another for next year.
We’ve been in the community so long that we’re a first call for landlords when they have a space opening up or builders as they’re thinking about a new project. We always have opportunities coming our way; it’s about figuring out the best fit. We always have ideas for potential concepts; we’re always looking at different parts of the city we know, whether it’s downtown, north, southeast, west. When all those things align, when we find the right space in the right neighborhood, we open the concept that we’ve been thinking about for a while.
Do you find that it’s helpful or kind of a hindrance to be in a university town?
Being in a university town is a big part of success for us. It obviously helps with employees year-round because there are always cycles of people. Plus many students have expendable cash, so they frequent our restaurants, too.
The other benefit we have is the state government. Those are two powerhouses: the state government and the University of Wisconsin, which continues to grow. We also have Epic Systems, which is in nearby Verona, and it’s a big player in the healthcare software industry. I think it has upward of 10,000 employees. They’re well-paid, highly educated people, so they’re a big part of the city’s economy, as well. A lot of the people who work there live downtown and have money to spend. They’ve been a big reason why the downtown area around Capitol Square has been able to flourish.