Scott Lawton co-founded Bartaco and has led the restaurant chain’s growth to 15 units and over $60 million in sales operating in eight different states. He currently serves as CEO after taking a break from Bartaco to move to the brand’s parent company, Barteca, where he was chief operating officer. Lawton rejoined Bartaco under the new private ownership of L Catterton, which acquired the brand as part of a Del Frisco’s purchase in 2019. Bartaco and Barcelona Wine Bar had been acquired by Del Frisco’s in a deal in 2018. Here’s his story:
“Both living and leading has been quite an experience during these times. I often feel the weight of the world on my shoulders as I know it is my job to protect both my family and my team. I find it really important to stay positive both for my own sanity and also because I know others are taking cues from my attitude. I miss traveling to the locations and checking in with the teams, but I have enjoyed the concentrated time spent with my family.
From the onset of the pandemic, I have said that hospitality is safety. Providing a safe environment for our team to work and a safe place for our guests to dine has been our North Star. We have ramped up our digital ordering for takeout, delivery and dine-in. Partners like Wisely have helped us with our guest-facing communication so that we can control the crowds before they ever get to the restaurant. We also do daily wellness checks with our staff before they come in to work and have ramped up our sanitation procedures.
With the understanding that many just feel safer staying home, we have worked hard to refine our takeout offerings, including the addition of the family packs. These kits provide all the ingredients to have a family taco night. It’s a great value and we have found that the tacos are better when you put them together at home. People are loving the margarita kits as well.
As the pandemic subsides, I believe we will enter into a “new” normal. Guests have learned a lot during these times, and I think that takeout and delivery will remain a big part of our business. I also believe that guests have become more comfortable with using digital solutions during their dining experience. This will allow us to maximize labor and efficiency going forward. The part that will never change is our commitment to providing an experience for the guest. I believe Bartaco is an affordable escape for people and that is why we have and will continue to remain relevant.”
This is part of our series Stories from the Front Lines.