Sunwest Bank has been integral in the success of Slater’s 50/50, a Southern California-based burger and beer restaurant started by Scott Slater in 2009.
Sunwest Bank (SB): Can you tell me a little bit about your business and its success?
Scott Slater (SS): Right out of college, a friend and I started a hot dog stand and deli business outside of Home Depot, with locations in the Bay Area, Las Vegas, New York and Phoenix. We ran the business for five years, but closed as a result of the recession. That’s when Slater’s 50/50 became a reality. I found a location in Anaheim Hills and collaborated with my chef to create the signature 50/50 burger patty. The idea for the patty came from the burgers that I grill at the San Diego Charger tailgates. After a long Saturday night, many guests wanted to incorporate bacon into their meal, but we weren’t able to BBQ the bacon. So, I decided to incorporate ground pork belly into the hamburger meat, solving the problem and creating something delicious in the process.
Today, Slater’s 50/50 has grown into a regional chain of restaurants in Southern California specializing in burgers, bacon and beer. We have seven locations in total, three of which are in Orange County, specifically in Lake Forest, Huntington Beach and Anaheim Hills. We have 101 beers on tap and we’re known for our 50/50 patty, which is 50 percent ground beef and 50 percent ground bacon. We’re a “design your own burger concept,” so we have over 1 million different ways to make a burger from our design it menu.
SB: How has Sunwest Bank helped grow your business?
SS: Sunwest Bank has been instrumental in our growth pattern. After successfully opening and operating my first three locations, I was looking for additional financing. Sunwest Bank was able to help structure the financing for our fourth, fifth and sixth restaurants. We are currently working with Sunwest Bank on future business projects.
SB: What made Sunwest Bank the most attractive option for you in trying to grow your business?
SS: Sunwest Bank was able to deliver when other banks could not, they made it possible for my business to expand. They have been a great partner throughout the whole process, and now we use them for banking and for deposits in addition to financing. What makes Sunwest Bank particularly appealing to me is that they’re a local, regional bank. They didn’t just look at my numbers; they actually got to know me and my concept. They took a long-term approach and saw a good concept with growth potential. Being a smaller bank, Sunwest Bank was able to have better exposure and see beyond just P&Ls.
SB: As an entrepreneur, what is the most rewarding part of your business?
SS: Having multiple locations is certainly rewarding. Walking into those locations and seeing people enjoying something that I created is probably the most rewarding aspect of my business.
SB: What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to develop a banking relationship?
SS: It’s not all about the bank, it’s about the bankers.