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.
Ah. Where to start? How about your childhood. What was it like?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Of course; what are you eating and drinking?
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?
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?
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.
We couldn't agree more! Thank you for joining us today Tylor.