No Longer The New Guy


There is something about being around for 25 years in the same location, operating year after year, still here while so many restaurants close one by one. We’ve seen boom times, recessions… we’ve survived 2009! We’ve been rich in cash and not-so-rich in cash; we’ve done this with grace and at other times, we struggled but we stayed with it. My friends ask me “How?”. My answer in one word is “consistency”.

Some background. Though we’ve been at our Beverly Hills locations for 25 years, we’ve been in the restaurant business in continuous operation for 62 years. My mother and father opened their first Hamburger Hamlet in 1950. I was born in 1955 so HH was the only thing I ever knew.  I grew up in a home where business meetings were an every day occurrence, where my father would be on the phone to each and every manager of each and every location to check on business. Remember, no cell phones in the 60s and 70s and 80s so those calls to ultimately 24 restaurants, took some time. They, too, experienced all kinds of economic climates, labor unrest, civil rights era, the extremely severe recession of the early 80s highlighted by high interest rates and high inflation rates. Really, nothing like we’re experiencing now. Just different. And when they were asked how they survived it all, I used to hear the “consistency” word coming from them.

I’ve visited with any number of our guests that in some cases, they had moved away and came back or visited from another state after experiencing us in the late 80s. The delight in their voices was so gratifying when we heard them say things like, “wow, it’s like I never left”. The meatloaf was the exact same experience they had when they first tasted it; the crabcakes the same. It reminded them of landmark events in their lives: asking their wives to marry them, their first date being at Kates, graduation parties, baby showers, memorials, life happening.

We’re still here. We operate every day with the pride, attention to detail, and the love of this business that we had the first day we opened. Today my mother and father are retired and they root us on. Sometimes they are our trusted advisers. We opened a catering division of our business, as seen in the photograph attached to this blog, watched over by Michael Hollingsworth, the veteran caterer in Beverly Hills. Many new items have been added to our menu over the years and many traditional Kates recipes have stayed. My brother, David Lewis, our executive chef since 1989, holds our recipes close and protected for accuracy. And now his son Benjamin, works in our kitchen learning under his father’s watchful supervision. The tradition of family continues. The tradition of consistency continues as well.

– Adam Lewis, CEO

About Kate Mantilini Restaurant