A Chat w/ Billy Dec: CEO Rockit Ranch
If you have been to the Windy City recently, you have probably stumbled upon one of the Rockit Ranch Productions restaurants or nightclubs. They currently own and operate Rockit Bar and Grill, Sunda, Rockit Burger Bar, Underground, The Duck Inn and Bottlefork. We recently caught up with Billy Dec, the CEO and Founder of Rockit Ranch Productions. Check out the venues here.
1. How did you get into the restaurant and entertainment business?
Started as coat check kid in 6th grade in a Chinese restaurant to make extra bucks in winter, summers frying egg rolls for them at summer fairs----- loved watching the emotional reaction in people's faces of immediate gratification if I worked extra hard to do a good job and I was hooked, following up year to year working almost every position in the restaurant! At 19 made my way in to becoming a doorman at the hottest nightclub in town SHELTER, learned how to network and promote, opened my 1st nightclub called SOLO at 22 to put myself through law school---- rest is history.
2. Explain Rockit Ranch Productions to us in 3 words.
Elevated Entertainment Experiences!
3. What do you think attracted people to your company and venues?
I would say a magnetic staff, venue, design, and super solid kitchen & bar offerings,… But also had been relationship building at the highest levels in quantity and quality and that always brought amazing energy into the four walls that gave immediate excitement to every bit of the experience!
4. Do you think the events/restaurants/entertainment industry is constantly changing or staying the same? How so?
Both! Its changing in the way we chose where to have events, how we plan, invite, share.. Technology really making the creation and management of it all super fast, efficient, organized.. But the goal is all the same to create memorable and elevated entertainment experiences by producing incredibly human emotional reactions to all your inputs carefully orchestrated in the best of ways.
5. What is the best/your favorite event you have hosted?
That would be hosting Madhatter's Ball with David Schwimmer and Joey Slotnick for Lookingglass Thatre with Macy Gray performing at House of Blues and 1100 of my closest friends and Lookingglass Junior Board that I founded, to raise money for arts, education and scholarships!
6. Tell us about your new show, “Big Night Out”.
It’s a Food/Travel/Cocktail show airing on FYI Thursday, July 9th at 9:30pm CST. I’m hosting it along with Camille Ford (you might know her as the host of “Food Wars”) and we hit up Portland, Maine for 24 hours – hitting all of the best (known and unknown) restaurants, bars, clubs..all based on social media suggestions and from talking to the locals – here’s a sneak peek; http://bit.ly/BNOTrailer
7. What excites you about this new venture in your life?
Between ABC TV’s Windy City Live, KISS FM and other shows (here’s my reel so you can get a drift of what I mean: http://bit.ly/BillyDecTV) and doing the Today Show again this Thursday… in last decade…I've always loved sharing fun stories/tips/recipes/insights.. A amazing creations in our restaurants.. and essentially entertainment experiences again, love it in our venues, but love platforms that allow me more reach… that’s basically why I started Elston Films, even in the acting world for last decade, I’ve wanted to do more, so bringing more stories to be produced in Chicago through movies.
8. Since you are using film and television as a way to broadcast new venues and restaurants throughout the United States, how do you think technology influences the events/restaurant/entertainment industry?
I think internally we are managing and marketing better with so many tools and technology.. Social media been amazing way to share passions and be connected to people who love the same.. And of course for customers finding what they want and accessing when they want it huge.
9. What has been the biggest challenge in your career?
Growth in a rapidly growing industry.. Thankfully I have amazing partners, managers, 650 employees that are top talent in the industry to make it all worth it, and to lay the foundation for the future!
10. Give us one key to success for those with an entrepreneurial mind and/or trying to reach their career goals.
Network network network relationship build relationship build relationship build!