Restaurant group thrives on unique model

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Gary Cardi is a partner in Public House Investments, which provides administrative and marketing services to 16 restaurants and bars on the East Coast. He’s also sole owner of four restaurants in Philadelphia, including Pennsylvania 6 (above). Chanda Jones / Staff Photographer

GARY CARDI, 39, of Wayne, is a partner in Public House Investments (PHI), which provides management services to restaurant/bars in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. He also owns two City Tap Houses, in University City and Logan Square, and Field House and Pennsylvania 6 in Center City.

Q: How'd you come up with the idea for PHI?

A: That's the management company. Each restaurant is individually owned by me or one of my three partners. The management company supplies managers to all 16 restaurants that each partner owns. The idea was that the group would be stronger if there was one operating entity than if each of us managed individual restaurants.

Q: Startup money?

A: We borrowed from friends and family, and for the most part are self-financed. We probably borrowed $200,000 and the rest was reinvested as the business grew. My first restaurant with PHI was Public House at Logan Square, now City Tap House at Logan Square.

Q: Describe the brand behind your restaurants here.

A: City Tap House is approachable and the food is upscale American but with Indian, Italian and Asian influences. We also have pizzas and a great burger. We wanted to embrace the craft-beer scene. The tap house in University City has 60 draft handles of craft beer; the new one in Logan Square will have 40 draft handles but will also have a 100-bottle list. We opened Pennsylvania 6 in April 2013 and went after more of a foodie crowd. So that's known for crudos and we put a raw bar into it and I wanted to build something that could be neighborhood-friendly. Field House is a sports bar.

Q: Your patrons?

A: They differ from location to location. University City, our first tap house, is a cross-section of professors, students, nurses and doctors and professionals, seniors and West Philly residents. Logan Square is an office-tower environment, very busy at lunch and happy hour on weekdays. Pennsylvania 6 is more of a destination for two- and four-seaters, with an emphasis on seafood, a street-level bar and a dining room on the second floor.

Q: What's been the biggest challenge growing the biz?

A: Making sure you don't lose sight of what you set out to do. It's easy to become Joe Restaurateur, but at the end of the day success is measured by whether it's run the proper way, because you're responsible for a lot of people's livelihood.

Q: How big a biz is this? Revenues and employees?

A: The four locations here, we have 250 to 300 employees, both full- and part-time.

Q: What's next?

A: There's still room to expand here, but our next target market outside Philly is Boston.

 


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