John Tallichet is no stranger to crisis. Just as he was finishing his Haas degree, his father was diagnosed with cancer. The elder Tallichet had founded Specialty Restaurants Corporation, of which John was serving as president. When his father died a year later, Tallichet became CEO—just as the nation was heading toward a recession.
“It was challenging, but I was confident I had the tools to take the company to the next level,” he says. “I don’t think I would have had that same confidence if I hadn’t been to Haas.”
SRC is a pioneer in the themed restaurant industry, and Tallichet, who started out as a restaurant “salad boy,” today oversees the corporation’s 18 eateries nationwide as well as its real estate and aviation divisions.
During the pandemic, Tallichet prioritized the well-being of customers and employees, giving up to two weeks’ pay to help employees through the initial lockdown and distributing groceries from their restaurants’ inventories for months. SRC also launched a beach-focused venue—Whiskey Joe’s Bar & Grill—at five waterfront locations in Florida. “It’s outside on the sand with a tiki bar,” Tallichet says. “When businesses reopened, those restaurants thrived.” SRC continues to grow, with four new restaurants opening and more planned.
Named chairman of the California Restaurant Association Board of Directors last year, Tallichet is also helping guide his battered industry.
“The challenges restaurants face are not over, and there are regulations coming down that will be difficult for them,” he says. “We want to defend restaurants against more costs when many are not fully recovered.”