Jimmy Haber is the managing partner of ESquared Hospitality, and has been an investor and owner of restaurants and nightclubs in New York City for over 30 years. With an initial investment in Le Bilboquet in the early eighties, Haber began his introduction into the hospitality industry. Haber next invested in Metro CC, Flowers, AZ and Pazo before teaming up with Laurent Tourondel and Keith Treyball in 2003 to open BLT Steak New York and BLT Fish, followed by BLT Prime, BLT Burger and additional BLT Steak concepts around the world. In 2011, Haber and Treyball formed ESquared Hospitality – the parent company of BLT Restaurants, Casa Nonna, The Florentine, GO Burger Bar & Grill and Horchata.
With more than 26 restaurants worldwide, Haber is intimately involved in all details of development, construction and financing of ESquared Hospitality’s establishments. Haber is one of the founding members of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, an independent, city-wide hospitality association established in 2012 that represents all facets of the industry, including restaurants, nightlife venues, destination hotels and industry suppliers.
How did you get into the culinary industry?
I started with a small investment in a small restaurant that became very successful and fun (Le Bilboquet). Stumbled my way since then.
Tell us about ESquared Hospitality. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the company?
It wasn't a grand inspiration. Had a failing restaurant and was looking for a concept and a chef. Along came Laurent Tourondel. BLT Steak became very successful. It was easy to grow from there as opportunities sought us out. ESquared was created so that we could broaden our scope beyond BLT or steak restaurants. My vision is to continue to be opportunistic in the hospitality industry. Growth is easy - having successful restaurants once you grow is enormously difficult.
(BLT Steak: Ribeye)
What strategic partnerships/marketing strategies have you implemented that have attributed to ESquared's success?
We appreciate all of our hotel partners and that has very clearly contributed to our growth and success, but the most important contributors to our success have been our employees. We have been fortunate to have great, hardworking and loyal people be part of the company.
What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?
QSR, Healthy, QSR, Healthy, QSR, Healthy. Did I say QSR, Healthy! We are opening the best concept in this space - by CHLOE. - a terrific new vegan QSR.
(BLT Steak: Tuna Tartare)
You only go around once. Enjoy it. Make the best of it. GLASS IS ALWAYS HALF FULL.
Treat everyone (customers, employees, coworkers) like you would like to be treated. Exceed Expectations...
Your greatest success as Proprietor/President of ESquared Hospitality? Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?
I truly am proud of the people in our company. I am not always happy with them and most assuredly they are not always happy with me but I am proud of all of them. I hope they feel as lucky to be with the company as I feel to have them be part of it. The most difficult part is every day. The restaurant business is a tough business. It tests you every day. I just put my head down, push forward and hope for the best.
Your advice to an aspiring restaurateur/entrepreneur?
Make sure you love it because it will test you. If you don't love it you won't survive or succeed.
Describe the ideal experience at an ESquared restaurant. Favorite dishes?
An ideal experience at an E2 restaurant is to feel as though you walked into your friend's home for a meal. You are graciously welcomed and treated with friendly professionalism. I have too many favorite dishes. Do you have a favorite child?
(BLT Prime in the Trump National Doral, Miami)
How important are architecture/design to the success of your venues?
It is one important ingredient. But only one of many. We have all been to great restaurants that are a dump and horribly beautiful restaurants.
How do you motivate your employees?
I whip them... only kidding. When you are part of a team and most, if not all, are working towards a common goal, you hold up your end of the bargain or you quickly realize it is not the place for you. I work harder than anybody I know; I defend my people all the time. I hope their seeing that and other attributes rubs off.
One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?
Definitely Pizza. Probably diet coke. I'm a kid from Brooklyn.
What literature is on your bed stand?
In my ipad. Love spy and crime novels. Don't need to read about real life. I live it.
My family. When I'm not with them...golf.
Favorite travel destination?
Any where there is golf
What's next for ESquared?
Tomorrow and the next day (I hope!).