Featured business person: Mitch Hauber

05/24/2012 12:00 AM

05/23/2012 11:44 PM

Mitch Hauber

Managing partner, Texas Roadhouse

The Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Wichita may be part of a big chain – one of about 320 restaurants in 46 states – but Hauber runs it a lot like a family business.

His wife, Lori, keeps the books. Their son, Kyle, manages the kitchen. And their daughters Kayla and Kari work as servers – a job their oldest daughter, Kelly, also once held.

Hauber was named the chain’s managing partner of the year last month. It’s an award he was up for three times previously, and he’s clearly proud to have won the national honor.

But he gives all the credit to his employees.

“In any business, it’s all about the people,” Hauber said. “I mean, we’ve just got really great people. They just work together as a team and make me look good.”

Running one of the busiest Roadhouses in the nation didn’t hurt either when it came time for the award. The restaurant at 6707 W. Kellogg seats about 380 people and still often requires a wait to get in – an issue Hauber may soon address.

“We already expanded once on the west side,” he said. “Now we’re thinking about adding another dining room on the east side.”

Hauber, 52, grew up in Ohio and briefly studied communications in college before finding his career in the restaurant industry, specifically, the steak business.

He got into management with the Steak and Ale chain in Kansas City – “They used to be the deal back in the day” – before coming to Wichita in 1985 to work for Amarillo Grill. At one time, he operated 13 of them in four states.

He opened the Wichita Roadhouse with a partner in December 2004.

Hauber said the Texas Roadhouse Corporation lets its operators run the restaurants with an “entrepreneurial spirit.”

“They’re not all the same across the country,” he said. “We have to follow the recipes – they’re great recipes – but we can make our own decisions about other things. I choose to do line dances here. I don’t have to do the line dance.”

Hauber said he likes the hourly employee line dances because “it’s fun for the customers and it’s fun for the staff. If the staff is having fun, they’re taking care of your customers better.”

Outside the job, Hauber enjoys golfing and spending time with his family.

And he notes that Lori won the chain’s “spouse of the year” award this year.

Hauber’s award came with a lead crystal replica of a Texas Roadhouse, a gold belt buckle and $25,000 – some of which he plans to spend on a party for employees.

Joe Stumpe

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