In a tale that underscores the transformative potential of learning from setbacks, Randy Hazelton, the CEO of H&H Hospitality, emerges as a beacon of resilience and strategic acumen in the cutthroat realm of airport restaurants.
From the ashes of bankruptcy, Hazelton’s journey becomes a testament to determination and a shrewd approach to business that has propelled him to build a thriving enterprise.
According to moguldom.com, Hazelton did his homework and turned his airport restaurant venture into a multi-million-dollar success.
His entrepreneurial journey had its share of setbacks. In 2006, he left his corporate job as a business manager for Kimberly-Clark to open Café Circa, a full-service restaurant and bar in downtown Atlanta. While the business operated well, it was not well managed, leading to financial troubles. Hazelton and his business partner, Kevin Holt, eventually filed for bankruptcy to save Café Circa from closing. You see, neither had much restaurant business experience.
“We didn’t know how to make money because we didn’t do the homework,” Hazleton, 43, told Forbes.
So he learned from his mistakes and decided to approach his next venture differently.
In 2007, Hazelton and Holt sold Café Circa for $500,000, using the money to start H&H Hospitality. H&H Hospitality operates as a full-service, multi-brand, and multi-unit comprehensive restaurant company, specializing in quick-serve eateries located in major U.S. airports.
Through the company’s participation in the Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Act (ACDBE) program, H&H Hospitality has been able to expand in the restaurant franchising industry. ACDBE supports minority and women-owned businesses by opening up bidding opportunities for contracts inside federally funded airports.
According to the government website, the ACDBE program was originally enacted in 1987 and most recently amended in 2012.
“It changed my life,” said Hazelton of ACDBE, which he called a “springboard” for smaller companies looking to expand in restaurant franchising.
Today, H&H Hospitality co-owns over 20 franchises, including well-known brands like Freshens yogurt, Famous Famiglia pizzeria, Shake Shack, and Auntie Anne’s pretzels.
Their presence in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, one of the world’s busiest airports, allowed them to tap into a massive customer base. The Auntie Anne’s pretzel franchise there generated $3 million in yearly revenue.
H&H Hospitality is expected to have an estimated $50 million in revenue by the end of 2023.