10 Questions: Jeffrey Yarbrough
Less than a decade ago, he was riding on good restaurant reviews and a thriving Deep Ellum club scene. The man behind the award-winning Liberty Noodles and then popular Club Clearview even ventured into the lounge scene with a place called Open.
On the other end of the spectrum was Yarbrough's battle with bankruptcy after the failure of a branch restaurant in Houston. Now he's out of the service biz...sort of. His PR firm, BigInk, works with a number of bars and restaurants in the area.
It's not such a stretch for him--nightlife to publicity. He definetely knows the industry. And, after all, he started out as a marketing director in New York for the likes of Fairchild Publications. The difference? These days no one throws up on him...
1. Do you miss Liberty Noodles?
I do miss those days. I miss all the customers, the wine pairings we used to do and--most of all--I miss Annie Wong. She died last year.
2. How 'bout the bar?
I don't miss that so much. I had a creative staff, so I miss those guys. But the lifestyle and the hours, no. You know, because of my kids...my triplets are nine now. They don't throw up on me anymore. My bar patrons still would.
3. What causes someone to bail out of the business?
Typically life decisions, life choices. I saw the demise of Deep Ellum coming and I had ridden that train before. I didn't want to go through it again. How bad it got, now that I never saw coming.
4. Is PR easier?
Since the bulk of our business is in the entertainment industry, with the exception of late night hours I still feel like I'm in the business. I still speak restaurant all day long.
5. Don't you get tire of talking about food?
I don't. Food, booze--get tired of one, do the other.
6. OK, but why work with restaurants. You should know--aren't those guys notorious for not paying bills?
Restaurant people are not notorious for not paying bills. We're notorious for paying sloooowly. We get the food to you fast and pay slow. Yes, cash flow has been a problem for the last six months. But I know what it's like--that's probably why restaurants work with me. It's one of those things. Restaurants just have a bad rap.
7. Of course, you've had to deal with bankruptcy...
Our Houston restaurant took the whole ship down. We invested more and more into it and at the end of the day, we ran out of money. In hindsight, I should have quit sooner. My biggest fear at the time was I would be seen as a dirtbag. But people kept coming up and saying 'I know what it's like, I went through it two years ago.' 'Really, why didn't you tell me two years ago--would've saved me a lot of money.' There's a thing about bankruptcy: it's a great tool to reorganize. When used properly, it helps you pay off creditors and get back on your feet.
8. Is there a restaurant Dallas couldn't do without?
Let's see...I go from Snuffer's to The Mansion. So what I think is we have these iconic restaurants that do a lot to promote our city to the outside world. For Fort Worth, it would be Joe T. Garcia's. Dallas? We have so many.
9. OK then, how 'bout a band you'd like to see live?
You know who I want to see? I want to see Mojo Nixon again.
10. Tricky one: Which three sitcom characters would you like to have dinner with?
Ron White. Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island...Damn, I need one more. I was a Gilligan's Island fan. I really like that Ron White guy. How 'bout Ray Romano? He's a little too whiney for me, but he'd be a reminder not to bitch so much.
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