Hospitality heavy hitters talk indulgences and dads

Betsy Alexander, CNBC
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Each week CNBC's "Raising the Bar" series will provide insight into the minds of business leaders as they talk candidly in some of Manhattan's most interesting watering holes about everything from making mistakes to making it big.

In this case, one owns the bar: Scott Gerber, CEO of the Gerber Group. The other, Kat Cole, group president of Focus Brands, arrived bearing some of her most famous indulgences: Cinnabons. The talk turns to everything from learning management styles from mom and dad, to standing out in a crowded marketplace.

Scott Gerber and Kat Cole.

Both are major players in the food and drink industry.

Scott's Gerber Group strived to re-define the hospitality industry in the U.S. and internationally with innovative concepts for dining and bars. Some of its more iconic, and packed, properties include Whiskey Blue, Living Room, Stone Rose Lounge, THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen, Kingside and The Roof. As he said, "Every guy wants to own a bar."

Along with Cinnabon, Kat is now responsible for leading global, multi-channel growth for five other franchise food brands: Auntie Anne's, Carvel, Moe's Southwest Grill, McAllister's Deli and Schlotzky's. Growth at Focus Brands is guided by two simple rules. "If we don't do it, our competition will" and "Just because we can, does not mean we should." She called them "the two bumpers in the bowling alley to keep us from going astray."

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Over cocktails (and Cinnabons) at the bar at the Gerber Group's Whiskey Park, where a pool table, eight big screen TVs, gorgeous views of Central Park and a fully-stocked bar make it one of Manhattan's most sports friendly venues, they talked about everything from giving back to what makes a good deal. Gerber said: "It's not about who gets the best deal. It's about both sides walking away from the table feeling like it's a fair deal. Not that one won and the other lost, because that, I think, is a bad deal."

The Cocktails


1.5 oz. Casamigos Reposado

.75 oz. fresh lime juice

.5 oz. Cointreau

.5 oz. simple syrup

Combine all ingredients to iced mixing glass.

Shake vigorously and strain over fresh ice.


2 oz. Absolut Elyx

1 Bottle Fentiman's Tonic

Combine ingredients and garnish with a lemon wedge and fresh rosemary sprig.

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