How SBE Founder Sam Nazarian Is Giving Back + What He’s Learned About Being A Leader During This Challenging Time

Sam NazarianPhoto Credit: sbe

As California reopens, there are those that have really stepped up to help the struggling hospitality industry, and one of those people is Sam Nazarian. The sbe Founder and CEO—whose Los Angeles collection of hotels, residences, restaurants and nightclubs includes Katsuya Brentwood, Katsuya Hollywood, Katsuya Glendale and LA Live; S Bar Brentwood; Hyde Sunset; Hyde Staples; Nightingale; Doheny Room; Cleo Hollywood (at H.club); Cleo Third Street (at Orlando Hotel); Umami Burger; Mondrian Los Angeles; and Skybar LA—discusses his Relief Fund initiative, what he’s learned about being a leader during the COVID-19 era and why the future still looks bright for hospitality.

Sam NazarianPhoto Credit: sbe

Since the beginning of this unsettling time, you and sbe stepped up as one of the leaders in the industry to give back to those in need with your Relief Fund. How did you decide on this initiative and what logistics did you have to work out to make it happen?

Once we understood the magnitude of this pandemic, I immediately understood what this would mean for our thousands of team members around the globe. These team members are at the core of what has made sbe and our properties a success – their passion, innovativeness and caring for our company and its brands. I knew that we had to do something fast. I made the decision to take a portion of our corporate work force and dedicate it to finding ways to help our team members. Our organization started a GoFundMe page to raise money to help out our team members. I personally contributed the initial money for the GoFundMe and sbe will match all donations. Second, our organization worked with our valued partners to put together care packages for our team members that provides them with nonperishable food, household items and other essentials, including a $50 Amex gift card. Third, we have reserved a majority of the rooms at one of our hotels, Hudson New York, to be made available to local healthcare workers.

Skybar
Skybar

Photo Credit: sbe

What success stories can you share from this?

Other than providing more than 1,500 care packages to our team members in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Miami, I am extremely proud of our delivery of 1,000 total meals to frontline medical workers at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center in May. Teaming up with our close partner, Lincoln, we delivered meals from our sbe ghost kitchens outposts of our staple burger concept, Umami Burger, and delivery-only concept, Sam’s Crispy Chicken, as a way to show our appreciation of these front line heroes. Each meal included a personal note from one of Lincoln’s clients or an sbe team member, offering words of reassurance and thanks for their dedication in keeping the country safe. 

Katsuya Hollywood
Katsuya Hollywood

Photo Credit: sbe

What have you learned as a leader in the hospitality industry during this time?

I have learned about the extraordinary commitment of our team members to the sbe mission. Despite many of our locations being closed, our team and I have continued to work tirelessly around the clock to look at our business to see where we can improve and what we can invest in. We are thrilled with the improvements we have made to our properties and our business, including launching a newly redesigned website with a fully integrated booking platform for all of our hospitality, food and beverage, and nightlife properties.

Hyde SunsetPhoto Credit: sbe

What are you looking forward to in the future for the rest of 2020?

This is a great time for our great country to show its strength. America was built on innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit. My hope is that everyone across this country will use this crisis to become stronger and rethink the way that we conduct business to provide more opportunity to even more people. We are excited to welcome our tribe back to our properties, and have them see for themselves the elevated experience that we offer – whether it be staying in a hotel, eating at one of our top restaurants, or enjoying a night out at one of our nightlife venues. 

Doheny Room
Doheny Room

Photo Credit: sbe

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