Interview with Greg Jones
By Cheryl Dowden, March 13, 2021
Note: My questions are in black and Greg’s responses are in purple.
Greg, as you must be well-aware, there has been a flurry of speculation on the internet about you taking over some of the HSVPOA restaurants. Thank you in advance for your willingness to answer some of the community’s questions.
First, I would like to give you a little background information. I approached the POA Board back in January after the resignation of Charles King. I knew he was focused on improving the restaurants but we could see from the financial reports that they were still struggling. At the same time, I was looking to grow our business through expansion either in the Village or in Hot Springs. Like many businesses, having scale in your operations improves both costs and efficiencies which allows me to grow the business that I have been building for over 3 years in the Village. It was with this intent that I approached the Board about leasing multiple facilities.
- When does this change go into effect and for which restaurants will you have a contract? Additionally, is this all being done with one contract or three separate contracts?
There are three contracts because the way utilities are managed is slightly different for each facility. We are initially contracting for Desoto, Isabella, and Granada. I anticipate we will begin operation of the facilities in early April.
2. This is probably not a spur-of-the-moment decision on your part. Have you given thought to some possible (if any) changes that will be made in names, ambiance and decor, and menu offerings in each restaurant? If so, can you share any of your ideas with us?
We have been working on this agreement and proposal for almost 3 months. I don’t anticipate huge changes initially and we are not doing anything to the interiors of the facilities. We will be bringing some new menu offerings but are planning to continue to offer current favorites. One change will be that we will be bringing back a full breakfast offering at Isabella. All facilities will be rebranded with our Xplore brand.
3. There has been some concern about the current restaurant employees. Will any of the current staff assume positions under your management?
We will work to hire as many of the existing staff as possible. Obviously, we could not have these discussions prior to the completion of the contract. We will need them to augment our current staff for all the new locations. I am excited to have them join our team.
4. Are you willing or able to share any of the contractual details? For instance, it has been said that you are “being paid” to take on the restaurants. Is there any truth to this? Can you elaborate on how this is different than you being hired by the POA in the position of food and beverage manager?
I am only leasing the facilities under similar terms that others have leased POA restaurant facilities.
These restaurants will operate as independent entities completely separate from POA management. We are responsible for all costs, including payroll, for the operation of these restaurants.
5. Can you share with us some of your business and restaurant backgrounds? How long have you operated food and beverage facilities in Hot Springs Village?
I opened the Beehive over 3 years ago, Artfully Baked and Brewed 20 months ago, and Xplore Lakeside about a year and a half ago. While the Beehive was my first venture into the restaurant business, I have founded multiple technology companies, managed a $200M worldwide division for Texas Instruments, led international expansion of other domestic and international corporations. In those positions, I have had the opportunity to experience restaurants and service around the world to understand what constitutes good food and service.
6. Undoubtedly you have a vested interest in Hot Springs Village’s continued success. What are your thoughts on how to continue the success of Hot Springs Village?
My goal with these and all my restaurants are to provide an exceptional experience for every resident, visitor, and potential resident. At these golf course restaurants, it means a close coordination with the golf department to make sure golfers have a great golf and food experience when visiting our facilities. I also plan to meet with clients of each of these facilities to discuss how we might improve the experience at each facility.
7. Is there any particular message you would like to share with the community?
Trisha and I have been property owners for almost 20 years. We built our first house on Lake Balboa in 2006 and expanded that house to move here permanently 6 years ago. During this time we have invested substantial money and time in our restaurants and the community. I have served as a Board member and Board President of United Way of the Ouachitas, member of Rotary and a founding member of the satellite Rotary Club, member and chairman of the POA Government Affairs Committee. We have donated generously to multiple charities both through our businesses and personally.
This love of our community has been transferred to our son Chris over the years. This led him to leave Texas and move to the Village last October to make this his home for the future. Luckily, he has a great technology job which allows him to work from almost anywhere. He chose that place to be Hot Springs Village. It also led him to want to run for the Board of Directors to bring a newer perspective to the POA.
Greg, Thank you very much for all your hard work and for participating in this interview. Click here to read the HSVPOA announcement of the agreement with Mr. Jones.
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Click here to visit Xplore Lakeside website.
Click here to visit the Beehive Neighborhood Hangout website.
Click here to visit the Artfully Baked and Brewed website.
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