“It’s so pure because it’s not one company trying to present everything. It’s individual ownership and usually the owner/operator is standing right behind the grill making whatever you’re getting. It’s really exciting,” Dewitt says.
This spirit of innovation is driving Dewitt. In 2016, when Twin Peaks sold a majority interest to La Cima Restaurants LLC, Dewitt stepped away from the day-to-day and turned his focus to Front Burner’s emerging footprint. Joe Hummel assumed the CEO role at Twin Peaks and Dewitt remained on the board of directors.
Front Burner is a restaurant innovation lab in many ways. It’s the force behind more than 90 locations and multiple thriving brands that identify as polished casual concepts, restaurants presenting more like independent operations than cogs in a larger conglomerate. Whiskey Cake, Mexican Sugar, Velvet Taco, Ida Claire, The Ranch at Las Colinas, and wine-on-tap concept Sixty Vines are some of the brands in Front Burner’s portfolio.
The experience with Twin Peaks, however, which was founded in 2005 and grew to 78 locations when the La Cima announcement was made, is always a source to pull from for Dewitt. “We’re always trying to go where the puck is going as the expression goes in hockey. We want to build restaurant concepts that are for the next 20—30 years,” Dewitt says.