Many restaurants have come and gone from Central Oregon, and their former owners could probably write volumes of advice for new restaurateurs.
Roy Slicker is one who did just that after closing his successful Sisters restaurant, Slick’s Que Company, in 2017. The former San Francisco Bay-area sales and marketing executive has turned everything he learned from opening and operating Slick’s into an e-book, “Thrive While You’re Alive.”
Slicker, 62, exited the business a little more than a year after his wife, Kim Slicker, died of lung cancer at 55. While focusing on raising their three daughters, who are in their teens and early 20s, Slicker also had time to begin a new project. The main e-book, which costs $199, walks through restaurant operations in three modules called “Front Door,” “Back Door” and “Garbage Can.” For another $99, an owner or investor gets preloaded spreadsheets for making financial projections and templates for agreements and employee manuals.
“We all find our purpose,” Slicker said. “Quite simply, from my heart, my purpose is how many people can I touch in a positive way while I’m here.”
Slicker said he decided to create the e-book because it would be more affordable than one-on-one consulting for small-business owners.
Slicker talked with The Bulletin about what he learned in the restaurant industry.
Q: You had a catering business but never wanted to open a restaurant. What changed your mind?
A: I was really interested in getting into the barbecuing. I’m obsessed when I get into something. I was traveling all over Texas and the South. So in 2008, I went to the National Barbecue (& Grilling) Association’s annual meeting in Texas. I came back and opened Slick’s in Sisters. We were doing $65,000 to $85,000 a month (in sales) in a town of 2,000 people.
A lot of restaurants are called concepts. Barbecue is not a concept. It’s a culture. It’s the culture of barbecue that I was so attached to.
Q: How did you come to learn about loss prevention?
A: In the Bend location, we started to see a lot of problems. Kim started seeing a lot of problems while she was alive. We were short, couldn’t balance. Weird stuff. Like, someone would freeze an entire brisket, wrap it up in plastic, put it in the dumpster and come back in the middle of the night to pick it up.
And I hadn’t seen this in Sisters … because we were rockin’ and rollin’. We were profitable, doing really well. When everything’s going great, people don’t have a tendency to look. It was probably worse in the original location than it was in Bend.
In Bend, we were a little tighter. It wasn’t meeting the projections that we laid out.
Q: What made your first location in Sisters successful?
A: Brand. Customer experience. I say that’s the No. 1 thing. I have top five priorities in a restaurant to be successful (in “Thrive While You’re Alive”). Food’s not in there. If you’re going to be in the restaurant business, you have to make the assumption you have good food.
There’s a whole exercise in our product about how do you appeal to people visually? How do you appeal to people from the auditory standpoint? From the olfactory standpoint?
So when you walk in the door, you have a couple of minutes to connect with that guest. And the food is not even on the table yet.
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