HIGHLY COMMENDED: STEVEN ADAMS

Written on the 10 January 2011

HIGHLY COMMENDED: STEVEN ADAMS

RESTAURATEUR Steven Adams will need to try on thousands of pairs of shoes – around 240,000 in fact.

“I try to put myself in my customers’ shoes to see what the experience is like without rose coloured glasses,” says the former aeronautical engineer of his booming restaurant chain.

This year around 240,000 patrons will dine across Adams’ four restaurants, including the choice de jour Moo Moos restaurants on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane.

“Moo Moo is not your typical restaurant, we have created something with longevity and presence in the industry; we have created a brand,” says Adams.

Four restaurants now operate under the Moo Moo umbrella – Pizza Hut Broadbeach; Moo Moo Bar & Grill Broadbeach; Moo Moo Brisbane and Moo Moo Fiji located in the Westin hotel on Denarau Island.

The Fiji operation is a joint venture with Starwood Hotels, manager of brands including the Sheraton and Westin.

Closer to home, the group’s star performer is in Brisbane where annual turnover of $14 million is forecast based on the 3000 customers that dine at the CBD address each week. Siggis operated there for the past 22 years and earlier this year Adams struck a deal after recognising a golden opportunity.

“Moo Moo in Brisbane is absolutely fantastic and we have just launched a new menu,” he says.

“We are seeing strong inflows from the hotel (Stamford) and realise that we have to work with the hotel. We are benefitting but the Stamford is also seeing heads on pillows. Our customers are top end corporates, lawyers, barristers, accountants and CBD clients. It’s a win/win.”

Connected to two five star hotel brands has certainly assisted brand recognition, but the product and service has to match the hype.

“It’s amazing really, we get emails from people who have been to the Fiji restaurant who are from say Adelaide and Perth and then want to come to Brisbane and the Gold Coast,” says Adams.

“I had an email from a lady in England telling us how wonderful our staff were in Fiji and she comes to Brisbane, but did not know about the Brisbane restaurant. The association with Starwoood and Stamford is exposing us to a client base we might not have seen before.”

Adams’ trajectory is highlighted by the fact that all around restaurants are closing, in part due to a fall in international tourism as a result of the high Aussie dollar and inflated leasing rates. While Moo Moo has emerged unscathed, the bigger picture remains a concern.

“It’s very sad when you hear about businesses going under. You want everyone to do well and have money to spend and to keep the local economy healthy. Landlords need to look at rents in this climate and reconsider rates,” he says.

“One of the biggest things the last few years has taught us, is that you can’t stand still. You always need to innovate and keep changing because people don’t want to keep experiencing the same thing. People are interested in your brand when you keep it fresh.”

Keeping it fresh is something that runs through all of Adams’ restaurants – from decor to the menu and produce – if one performs poorly, they’re all affected.

“The whole food scene has changed rapidly, it’s something we feel really strongly about,” he says.

“There’s a lot of reference as to where our produce is sourced. We try to keep our food miles down and we are proud to say that a lot it is sourced from Queensland.”

While Starwood has indicated potential interest in other Moo Moo restaurants in its hotels, it’s not a matter of if but when.

“Never say never, we can only evaluate it at the time,” says Adams.

“While we are happy to expand, it has to be the right fit. One thing that I have always maintained is that it will never be franchised.”

For this former British Airways engineer, success continues to soar.


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