Los Angeles Times

20 Questions with the founder of Yard House

Editor's note: The following is a set of 20 questions with Yard House founder Steele Platt.

Q: You said you wrote a business plan in 1994 called the Yard House while tending bar in Huntington Beach. The Yard House sold to Darden Restaurants for $585 million, and your last day with the company is Wednesday. How does that feel?

A: I personally feel a sense of accomplishment and that a specific goal in my life was achieved, and that was to create a national brand restaurant. I had that goal in my freshman year in college going to restaurant school at the University of Denver. In a way it is surreal in that it seemed like only yesterday the first Yard House opened in Long Beach in 1996. Time has really flown by so fast. But there are now definite bookends on this chapter in my life. Other than that I am so proud of all the Yard House employees who worked so hard over the past 17 years to make the brand so successful. I will miss waking up and going to sleep "Yard House" every day.

Q: What will you miss the most about the Yard House?

A: I loved the day-to-day business, the emails, the phone calls, etc. Every day there was something happening: new locations, design, new menu items, making a new music playlist. It will seem very strange for me to wake up now and have absolutely nothing to do with Yard House like I have been doing the past 18 years.

Q: What's next on your to-do list?

A: Pretty much just do nothing other than focus on working out, playing more golf and traveling between my homes. I am sure something new will present itself in the not-too-distant future.

Q: What's your most prized possession?

A: I don't know if it's a possession, but my most prized person is my 9-year-old son.

Q: Fantasy purchase?

A: I have purchased everything I have ever wanted.

Q: What can't you live without?

A: My daily dose of classic rock music. It plays constantly at my house.

Q: Favorite drink?

A: An ice-cold beer, of course.

Q: Biggest regret?

A: That I didn't start the Yard House sooner in my life to have enjoyed it more, being younger.

Q: Cause that you're most interested or involved in?

A: I would like to start sharing with young people what it takes to accomplish and succeed in one's personal goals. I am thinking of speaking in front of schools and organizations to help translate this thought process and try to help get the younger generation a little more motivated in doing more, like our parents and their parents did to make this country what it is (or was). My favorite saying is to wake up each day and hit the reset button, start the day like it was the "first" day.

Q: Your dream day in Orange County?

A: I love playing golf and enjoying the ocean, and a drive up or down Pacific Coast Highway and stopping by all of the great places O.C. has to offer.

Q: Favorite place for breakfast?

A: I am not a big breakfast guy and mostly start off the day with a cup of coffee at Starbucks in Crystal Cove.

Q: What was the best day of your life?

A: When my son was born. I was the first person he touched when he grabbed my finger.

Q: Last concert that you went to?

A: Maroon 5 in Lake Tahoe.

Q: Favorite vacation spot?

A: Maui.

Q: If you had to live somewhere else, where would you like to move?

A: I currently live in Crystal Cove; La Quinta; Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; and Aspen, Colo.; so I do not think there could be a somewhere else.

Q: Favorite books?

A: I really have not had time to read any books in the past 17 years, but that is on my to-do list.

Q: Favorite restaurants (besides the Yard House) in Orange County?

A: Mastro's Ocean Club in Newport Beach, 370 Common in Laguna Beach, Bluefin in Newport Beach, Gulfstream in Newport Beach, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse at Fashion Island, and the Winery Restaurant in Tustin.

Q: Biggest accomplishment?

A: Overcoming my personal bankruptcy in 1994 by starting over and creating the Yard House.

Q: What's your biggest fear?

A: The next presidential election.

Q: Secret most people don't know about you?

A: Hot dogs are my favorite food.

GREER WYLDER is the founder and president of greersoc.com, a free daily email service that provides the latest in Orange County fashion, dining, music, events and trends. Email her at greer@greersoc.com.

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