Tylor Field IIIDivisional Vice President of Wine & SpiritsLandry's

Interview By Lisa Gmur, CSW

The first Landry’s restaurant, Landry’s Seafood Restaurant, opened its doors in Katy, Texas back in 1980. The second restaurant was Willie G’s Seafood & Steaks which opened up in nearby Houston, a year later. One of the two who partnered up for this was Tilman Fertitta. And it was definitely a good move. Fertitta quickly saw the potential for more restaurants and in 1986 gained controlling interests of the first two and the Landry’s Inc. brand was born.

After taking the company public back in 1993 with a valuation of $30 million, the company continued to grow exponentially and by 2011 it was worth $1.7 billion. In 2010, Fertitta purchased all outstanding shares of stock and gained sole control of the company again.

Not familiar with Landry’s restaurants? Here are a few names you might recognize; Morton’s, Mastro’s, Del Frisco’s, Chart House, Saltgrass, Bubba Gump, Houlihans, The Palm, Joe’s Crab Shack to name just some of the brands that are part of the portfolio.

Fertitta has remained the sole owner of Fertitta Entertainment which today includes Landry’s Restaurant Group, Golden Nugget Casinos and Resorts, Aquariums, Kemah Boardwalk (a 35-acre specialty project), the NBA’s Houston Rockets, etc. To say he is a fierce player in the industry could be called an understatement. There are more than 600 locations in 36 states and in over 15 countries. Landry’s is also one of the largest employers in the United States with more than 50,000 employees.

We talked with one of them.

Tylor Field started with Landry’s back in 1990. His title today is Vice President, Wine & Spirits. His first job was Assistant Manager at Morton’s in Boston. Let’s dig into his life a little, including how he got that first job, what it was like moving all over the world as part of a military family and yes, wine. We talked a lot about wine.

Tylor Field III, The Mark Wine News, Cover 12.2

Downtown, Minneapolis

The Interview

The Mark Wine Group

Ah. Where to start? How about your childhood. What was it like?

Tylor Field III

My dad was a Naval Officer which is why we moved a lot. My mom, a visual artist. Coming from a military family definitely had a big impact on my life. We were constantly moving and changing schools, which meant always making new friends. While that was a challenge, it gave me the ability to adapt to any situation and to communicate well with many diverse groups of people.

The Mark Wine Group

A definite plus. And kind of fun too, right? I mean some of the places you lived were really cool. I know you lived in Rhode Island because that’s something we have in common. But where else did you live?

Tylor Field III

Too many to mention. I lived in Italy, Switzerland, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Florida, and Newport by the time I was 10. I still yearn for Italy the most. There is just a vibe there of not taking anything too seriously in life and to enjoy yourself.

Tylor (far right) leading one of his wine flights in South Africa.

The Mark Wine Group

Yes, that European laissez-faire lifestyle. I would live in Italy in a heartbeat, so I totally get that. Of course, there are some really unique and kinda awesome things about Rhode Island, right? I have my cravings like Del’s, Second Beach and Clam Cakes.

Tylor Field III

My favorite things about Rhode Island would have to be the fried clams, Quahogging, catching blue fish from the beach, Sakonnet Golf Club, The Mansion’s in Newport, Narragansett Beer, and cheap coffee from Cumberland Farms.

The Mark Wine Group

Yes. All very Rhode Island things. Making me homesick. Cumberland Farms actually started as a stand on the side of the road. I grew up with the grandson of the founder. They are Greek. So maybe there was something special about the coffee you liked besides it being cheap. But let’s not jump ahead. We would love to hear more about those early years. Were you a foodie?

Tylor Field III

Ha! We ate Military PX Food, which meant fish sticks, Hungry Man Dinners, meat loaf, and hot dogs. I also remember the French fries that included small pieces of vegetables in them to make you eat your vegetables.

The Mark Wine Group

OMG! What a way to ruin French fries. I am sure you got to taste wine as a kid, especially when you were living abroad. Do you remember that first taste?

Tylor Field III

Yes, I was about 13 years old. It was an Asti Spumante I bought in Naples, Italy before going to the Teen Club on the Navy Base. It was sweet, tasty and my date really liked it as well.

The Mark Wine Group

Asti for the win! Love it. How about your grown up “aha” wine moment?

Tylor Field III

The only wine to make me cry was a DRC La Tache, 1988 that I enjoyed in Aspen one year. It was transcending.

You can taste how every detail was shepherded from ground to final wine. You could taste the love in the bottle. It was so much better than any other wine I had ever experienced.

It is still my benchmark and I have not had that same experience ever again but looking forward to it.

The Mark Wine Group

I would like to step back a little. In all that travel, what did you dream of being when you grew up?

Tylor Field III

When I was young I wanted to be an actor and musician.

The Mark Wine Group

Ah the art gene from your mom, I love it. Did you pursue those dreams?

Tylor Field III

You could say that. I went to NYU, Tisch School of the Arts. I was a member of the Experimental Theatre Wing and graduated with a BFA.

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Morton’s, Charlotte, NC

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle, Seaport, Boston

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The Mark Wine Group

Wow! Very impressive. But here you are in the hospitality industry?

Tylor Field III

Like most actors I started waiting tables to help with rent as I went to auditions and liked the energy. I also spent time working for winery in Rhode Island. My first job was selling hot dogs from a cart in Newport, Rhode Island.

The Mark Wine Group

Would you believe I did that too! And we both worked at The Clarke Cooke House as well. I remember that. So how did the whole Landry’s career begin?

Tylor Field III

I was working in a management restaurant job in Boston that I hated when my friend said there was a new upscale steakhouse called Morton’s that was looking to fill an assistant manager position. I took a chance and applied and got hired on the spot.

The Mark Wine Group

There must have been something that really impressed them?

Tylor Field III

I had my fair share of wine knowledge, (Tylor was Wine Captain at the very prestigious Lockeober restaurant in Boston and The Clarke Cooke House in Newport) and the assistant manager position oversaw the wine and spirits program.

The Mark Wine Group

A perfect match! And here you are more than 30 years later, (the Superbowl half time Spectacular showed us how long ago 1990 was) a definite big whig at the company. Is this how you pictured your life way back when?

Tylor Field III

My life? As I always tell my wife… if I croak tomorrow, please throw the biggest party. I have had an absolute blast. If you ever want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

A life in wine has been very fulfilling and allowed me to experience many wonderful things. My only regret was not getting my MBA. I may go back to school and get it in my 60’s.

Sometimes you need to understand business when you are younger to be able make better choices. You will never be a multi-millionaire working for someone else. You need to be an entrepreneur.

Tylor (3rd from right) with 2 generations of the Mondavi Family.

The Mark Wine Group

Like the big man upstairs. Mr. Fertitta. I think getting your MBA now sounds pretty cool. I can total see Tammy quizzing you. Anything else you dream of doing?

Tylor Field III

Learning to play the Banjo and the Bag Pipes. I love those two sounds.

The Mark Wine Group

Right? I totally want to visit Scotland. I am torn between Australia, Tahiti and Italy as favorite places I have been. Where have you been that you’ve loved?

Tylor Field III

All-time favorite place I have visited for work and leisure is South Africa. Cape Town is the most beautiful modern city surrounded by the most incredible countryside I have ever encountered in my life. My wife and I love to visit.

The Mark Wine Group

Mark says the exact same thing. It’s in my top five of places I am seriously jonesing to experience. Is there anywhere you haven’t been yet, that you are drawn to?

Tylor Field III

I would like to go to Vietnam with my Dad because he was there during the War and has never returned. I hear it is incredibly beautiful.

The Mark Wine Group

I don’t have first-hand experience, but my mother traveled to Vietnam and said it was truly breathtaking. Of course, you don’t go there for the wine. What wine growing regions have you been to?

Tylor Field III

I have travelled to every major and a few minor wine-growing regions in the world.

Del Frisco’s Grille, New York

Striphouse, Las Vegas

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The Mark Wine Group

Do you have any favorite wines, grape varietals ?

Tylor Field III

I’m pretty much a floozy as I fall in love with different wines all the time. To me, it’s about being able to taste the care that was taken in the final product.

All wines can be great, but it depends on so many small things being done correctly. America is the only place that we give guests choices of wines from around the world when they sit for dinner.

In Italy, the wines are from the town your restaurants are in. That’s it. They have been pairing each other for centuries and it is a can’t miss. This is true in most of the world except us.

The Mark Wine Group

It is pretty amazing that we can pretty much go into any restaurant or store, and buy wine from all over the world. Though, I am not sure that is entirely possible in the place you call home. Mark says it’s really, really, beautiful with quaint, charming, small towns, but very remote.

Tylor Field III

I live in Cashiers, North Carolina with my wife, Tammy, our dog, Brady, and cat, Bella.

I’m still working, but I live in a small town away from the hustle and bustle of the world. If you have not been to Western North Carolina, it’s gorgeous.

It is a long drive to the airport, but I like the peace and quiet.

(Cashiers is 119 miles from Atlanta and 128 miles from Charlotte)

The Mark Wine Group

I do love my peace and quiet so I get that. Do you have a favorite getaway spot?

Tylor Field III

My porch in Cashiers, North Carolina.

The Mark Wine Group

Of course; what are you eating and drinking?

Tylor Field III

I’m a huge steak and baked potato guy.

The Mark Wine Group

Well, that makes sense. You have spent nearly half your life working at a steak house. What wine are you drinking?

Tylor Field III

Château Y’quem with a salty medium rare, aged New York Strip. Don’t laugh until you try it. Old Tawny Port and Stilton cheese is a close second.

The Mark Wine Group

Not laughing. Like Champagne, Chateau Y’quem goes with pretty much everything. Any hobbies?

Tylor Field III

I love to play guitar and tennis. I also am very committed to my Church and participate in outreach.

The Mark Wine Group

The community there must love you. Outreach is such an important part of society. Such a good way to give back.

Do you have anything else you are doing or maybe dreaming of? Something you still haven’t had the chutzpah to do?

Tylor Field III

I’ve always wanted to open my own bar. It’s in the plans as I get older. I live in the right community to do it without it running my entire life.

The Mark Wine Group

You’ve got me thinking about The Tender Bar now. I read the book a while back when it first came out and the film is on my Netflix list.

I can totally see you pouring drinks and handing out advice. What advice would you give your younger self?

Tylor Field III

I never thought I would live past 35. I have always been a “Go Big or Go Home” type of person. We tend to expire faster.

So, I guess my advice would be to live large and enjoy the ride.

The Mark Wine Group

We couldn't agree more! Thank you for joining us today Tylor.