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Rae Phillips-Luther is helping FB Society expand.

How Rae Phillips-Luther defines the future of FB Society’s restaurant brands

The marketing executive is turning her talents toward people and experience

There’s been a surge of restaurants opening in Dallas over the past decade, with the city becoming a hotspot for emerging restaurant brands, making the dining scene particularly tough.

FB Society, founded by Randy DeWitt and now led by CEO Jack Gibbons and CEO Jeff Carcara (Whiskey Cake Holdings), is a collection of experiential restaurants based in the Dallas area. As part of the brand’s journey to grow and make its restaurants more known, they hired a marketing guru.

“One of my goals in my career was always to work for brands and with brands that I really felt were adding value to the world,” said Rae Phillips-Luther, chief brand officer at FB Society.

Phillips-Luther is a seasoned restaurant marketing industry veteran. Before joining FB Society in 2020, she was CMO at Jamba and Zoe’s Kitchen, and served as vice president of marketing/brand at Kona Grill.

She was initially inspired by people’s stories when she began her career in public relations.

“[My career started with] a passion for sharing people’s stories and better understanding what made different successful businesses tick,” she said.

That’s a lot to undertake at FB Society, which houses brands including The Food Hall, Haywire, Whiskey Cake, The Ranch, Ida Claire, Son of a Butcher, Sixty Vines, and Mexican Sugar. Several of these brands have more than one location, Sixty Vines has nine and Whiskey Cake has 10.

“You have to really get to know each brand’s unique DNA,” Phillips-Luther said.

That includes empowering each brand’s manager to “dream big,” stay the course, and make great decisions.

“Empowerment is born from trust,” she said.

For Phillips-Luther, it starts with hiring the right people, who are given a clear framework to discuss ideas and goals.

“When there’s a lack of clarity or you don’t trust the individual, that’s where I think you find a lot of environments where people are micromanaging, or not even allowing people to take risks,” she said.

And risks are just what she wants.

“I tell my team all the time, fail fast, fail forward,” she said. “And if they’re not failing, they’re not dreaming big enough.”

Though all the FB Society brands may be equally favored amongst the leadership team, much like children, each one needs a different amount of time or level of attention. And that’s okay, Phillips-Luther said.

“It's more about, what are the aspirations we have for this brand, relative to how people think and feel about it?” she said. “And how can we ensure that each of these team members is waking up every day, really putting strategies and tactics into practice that are going to help us realize those aspirational perceptions?”

Ultimately, the brand experience can be crafted and honed with a fine-toothed comb, but it’s not the marketing that drives the customer’s idea of the brand — it’s the store-level employee.

“If brands are shaped by experience, then the people that have the most control over the brands are my hourly team members,” she said. “There's nothing worse than trying to build a brand in a cosmetic way.”

With Gibbons and Carcara at the helm of FB Society and Whiskey Cake Holdings, the brands are expanding, but, Phillips-Luther was quick to point out, not too fast.

FB Society is about culture, thanks to leaders who value front-line employees and want to celebrate every win across the company, no matter how small.

“When you’re having successes and you’re celebrating them, that momentum is undeniable,” she said.

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