Eastes’s this year’s Executive-in-Residence
While majoring in history at the University of Kansas, Bobby Eastes never planned to move home to help with the family business, much less eventually take it over.
Bobby and Becky Eastes are the recipients of this year’s Executive-in-Residence at Pratt Community College. The couple owns the Uptown Café, Club D'Est and Legends Pub & Grille.
The couple operates the Uptown Café and Club D’Est, while their son and a friend manage Legends.
The Uptown Cafe was opened 44 years ago by the Eastes family as a small 40 seat, breakfast and lunch restaurant on East Third St.
When a foot injury befell Bob Eastes Sr., who was operating the business, Bobby returned from college during the semester break to lend a hand.
“My family had always been engaged in the independent business world. I felt like it was for me, too," Bobby said.
Within a few months the expansion of the Uptown Café began. They secured a larger building on Main Street, increased the hours of operation, and the seating capacity to 140. The Club D’Est was opened in the lower level of the building and brought their seating to 250.
"The Club D'Est was a rather bold venture at the time," Bobby said. “At that time, there were only a handful of private, for profit, clubs in the state.”
Within five years, they moved their operation to its current location, 202 S. Main St., increasing their seating capacity even more, and allowing the business to engage in entertainment venues. As the business transitioned, Bobby and Becky became the sole owners, of both businesses in 1990.
In 2006, the couple, along with their son, Cody and Shane McGreevy opened Legends Pub & Grille, a 120 seat upscale casual concept, which brings the business into its third generation of family ownership.
Both Bobby and Becky have advice about opening a business.
“Research what you are doing,” Becky said. “Make sure you know your demographics, the market and the area. That will help you to be successful.”
Bobby encourages people interested in running a business, to go to school and learn as much about business as they can.
“One tenth of the job involves cooking and the other 90 percent is accounting, human resources and marketing,” he said. "Be passionate about your concept first, and then become well educated in the areas of finance, accounting, business practice, marketing, and human resources."
While Becky commented that getting to know people is her favorite part, Bobby stated he likes it all and is happy that he can now say it’s as much a hobby to him as it is a job.
In the future the couple intends to transition control of their businesses to their team of young partners: Cody, McGreevy and Lance Steinert. Until then, they will be involved in an expansion and new dining concept at their Main Street location.
"Every day my goal is to do something that makes our operation a little bit better than the day before,” Bobby said.
After nominations were made, a committee met and picked the Eastes’s as this year’s Executive-in-Residence.
“Bobby and Becky Eastes are true examples of restaurant entrepreneurs and an excellent choice for the 2011-2012 Boyd Davies Executive-in-Residence Award,” said Junnae Landry, event coordinator.