Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, cofounders of the legendary rock band KISS, are also the owners of a budding restaurant concept—Rock & Brews. The restaurant opened its first store in El Segundo, California, in 2012, and has since grown to 21 locations, including in airports and stadiums, and two locations in Mexico.
With added leadership from fellow co-owners Michael Zislis, a brewmaster and restaurateur with more than 20 years of industry experience, and brothers Dave and Dell Furano, long-time concert industry and merchandising pros, the Rock & Brews concept has always been staged for success.
Here are some tips from Simmons, the legendary rock icon, on how to run a thriving business.
“You’re going to live and die by whether or not people like you—all of us, the pope, rock stars, rulers of countries—we all work for the people,” Simmons says. “If the people don’t like us we’re out of business.”
“For those that like Heineken and the other beers you can find all over the place—those are mass produced, and there is nothing wrong with them, but neither you nor I believe there is one single brew master for the large brands. No, there are tanks full of them—enough to fill an ocean in there, so how do you keep the quality up? That’s what we try to do. We make sure all of our food is fresh, the beers are exceptional and unique, and you can taste test.”
[On the brand's philanthropy and support for veterans]: “Politicians can raise billions of dollars for their own agenda, and yet if someone risks their lives and goes overseas and happens to survive in combat either wounded physically or mentally, they aren’t even guaranteed a job. Shame on us. There is no amendment to the constitution that says if you risk your life we will at least get a job. You won’t get a job or become rich and famous, but at least you’ll be able to feed for family. This is the least we could do.”
[On the future of Rock & Brews]: “It will be bigger and better, and most of the time we spend saying no. We get tugs on our shirtsleeves all the time saying, ‘Hey let’s open one in Anchorage Alaska,’ but hold on. Before we do that, let’s talk about it and find out a little bit about the land, and the culture, and who is there, and who is going to come in every day, as opposed to fast food joints, which open everywhere—that’s their brand, it’s not ours. We want to make sure that every single Rock & Brews is as good as it can be.”
“Social media is your best friend and also worst enemy. If somebody has a bad experience anywhere they go then the world knows, so it is a incumbent upon us to make sure that everyone is happy when they come into one of our Rock & Brews. That means keeping a close eye on it, and that means having partners who send their kids to school in the same neighborhood as our restaurants and come into work and make sure everybody is happy.”