10 Things You Didn’t Know about Houston Rockets Owner Tilman Fertitta

Tilman Fertitta is a restaurateur who has managed to become very, very rich, so much so that Forbes has called him the “World’s Richest Restaurateur” in 2012. Fertitta is involved in a number of things that might make his name known to curious individuals, with an excellent example being the fact that he paid $2.2 billion for the Houston Rockets in 2017. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about Tilman Fertitta:

1. Born and Raised in Galveston, TX

Fertitta was born and raised in Galveston, TX. In the present, Galveston tends to be known for its tourism sector, but there was a time when it was one of the most important commercial centers in the United States because of its seaside location. Unfortunately, Galveston was situated on an exposed barrier island when the Great Galveston Hurricane struck in 1900, with the result that it came very close to being wiped out. Even now, that is considered to be one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, seeing as how it claimed between 6,000 and 12,000 victims.

2. Very Strong Background in Running Restaurants

Even before Fertitta owned his own restaurants, he had a very strong background in the subject matter. In part, this is because he would help out his father’s seafood restaurant, meaning that he got a good look at the business side of things when he was still a child. However, it should also be noted that he studied not just business administration but also hospitality management when he went to college.

3. Owns Landry’s, Inc.

Primarily, Fertitta is known for owning Landry’s, Inc., which is involved in dining, entertainment, and gaming. Initially, Fertitta wasn’t the sole owner, but over time, he has managed to consolidate control over its operations, so much so that he is now its private owner. In total, Landry’s, Inc. owns and operates hundreds of locations under a number of brands, with the result that it is valued in the billions.

4. Known for Removing Leadership

In the Forbes interview from 2012, Fertitta commented on his strategy for buying new locations, which was pretty simple and straightforward in nature. In short, he likes buying hospitality businesses at a low cost, so much so that he has been known to buy them while they are mired in bankruptcy court. Afterwards, Fertitta removes the existing leadership, closes unsustainable locations, revamp those that still have hope, and has his existing management team take up the leadership role.

5. Went Private Because He Found Shareholder Demands Too Limiting

From that same interview, Fertitta’s friend Rich Handler stated that he went private because he found the shareholders’ demands to be too limiting in nature. To be exact, Fertitta wanted the freedom to invest in whatever properties managed to catch his eye, which met with resistance from shareholders, who tend to be less enthusiastic about that kind of approach. As a result, Fertitta decided to do something about it, thus resulting in Landry’s, Inc. becoming a privately-owned company.

6. Has a Seafood Focus

It would be a mistake to say that Fertitta is limited to serving up seafood. However, it is clear that his properties have a seafood focus to an extent, which makes sense considering his background. Essentially, a considerable percentage of Fertitta’s properties are situated by the water in coastal cities. Considering Fertitta’s statement that people want seafood when they head into a restaurant situated by the water, it should come as no surprise to learn that a lot of these locations specialize in such menu items.

7. Known to be Controlling

Over the course of his career, Fertitta has received various less than flattering labels. However, one of the most common is that he is very controlling in nature, so much so that he likes to be involved in just about everything when it comes to his operations. In more practical terms, this means that he continues to be involved in everything from working with his chefs to come up with new dishes to looking over fabric swatches before giving the go-ahead.

8. Cost-Cutting

With that said, Fertitta’s controlling nature has enabled him to engage in very successful cost-cutting. Something that enabled his business to make it through the Great Recession with less impact than a lot of his counterparts in the same sector. Many examples of Fertitta’s cost-cutting seem relatively minor in nature, but can nonetheless add up to significant reductions in cost in the grand scheme of things, with examples ranging from reducing the amount of fries given out from 8 ounces to 7 ounces to lemon wedges being removed from plates that didn’t really need them.

9. Had His Heart Set on the Houston Rockets

In another Forbes interview, Fertitta stated that he wasn’t particularly interested in the Houston Rockets’ earnings numbers when he made the choice to buy because “the value comes in holding the team.” This is perhaps unsurprising, seeing as how he had his heart set on the Houston Rockets, which was effectively his hometown team. In fact, Fertitta actually made an attempt to buy the Houston Rockets in 1993, but on that occasion, he was beaten out by the individual that he eventually winded up buying the team from.

10. Has Commented on the Need to Keep Up

When speaking with TMC News, Fertitta commented on how much consumers have changed from the past to the present. As a result, he stressed the need to keep up with the changing times because the businesses that fail to do so can’t hope to remain successful in a world in which their strategies have become out of date. Something that gets stressed by a lot of business-people out there, particularly those who are associated with industries with very elastic demand for their products and services.


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