Tag Archives: Carlito Jocson

Tapping Good Business: Yardhouse’s formidable trio does the ‘right thing’

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
In 2007, after eleven very successful years, the Yard House chain of restaurants was ready for a giant boost. Founder and CEO Steele Platt, along with partners Harald Herrmann, Yard House President and Chief Operating Officer; and Carlito Jocson, Corporate Executive Chef, were poised for significant growth. They were on the lookout for a strategic corporate partner that will help make Yard House a national brand.

Meanwhile, TSG Consumer Partners is ever watchful for high-growth companies to invest in. The recognized leader in building and investing in high-growth companies since 1987, TSG knows how to tap into a good business investment. And so, it offered to buy shares of Yard House, leveraging TSG’s 2 decades of experience in building some of America’s most trusted brands. Thus, a merger was born.

Acquiring a 70-percent interest in Yard House, TSG enthusiastically lauded the Yard House team’s success and announced that there will be no changes in its management.

TSG Managing Director Hadley Mullin said, “Founder and CEO Steele Platt and his team have developed a successful and exciting concept in the restaurant field. They have grown Yard House at a compounded rate of over 30% per year over the past five years, and we are highly enthusiastic about the Company’s future growth prospects.”

Platt is equally excited about the new partnership. “I believe that TSG will be an ideal strategic partner for Yard House. TSG will assist us in growing and building the brand as we continue to move forward,” said Platt. “We are very excited about beginning this next chapter in Yard House’s evolution and making it a national brand. My executive management team and I continue to own a meaningful portion of the company, and we will remain actively involved in the growth of the business for many years to come.”

The concept of Yard House came from Platt who opened a restaurant called “Boiler Room” in Denver, Colorado offering a wide selection of beers. After several years, Platt sold his restaurant and moved to San Diego, California. There, he spied a deserted warehouse building in the waterfront in Shoreline Village in Long Beach Yard. He decided to put up another upscale pub and eatery in that spot, using his original concept. One of the smartest moves Platt made was forming a partnership with Harald Herrmann and giving him carte blanche to run the restaurant his way. Herrmann in turn signed up Carlito Jocson who had worked with him in Chez Panache and made him executive chef.

From the trio’s combined efforts came Yard House, an upscale-casual eatery that can serve up to two hundred different kinds of beer on tap and a menu of eclectic gourmet food. Yard House’s name is derived from the time of the “Wild, Wild West” when stagecoach drivers only had a quick minute to get a cooling drink before hitting the trail once again. A “yard of ale”, which is a three -foot drinking glass, was handed to the drivers without having them getting off their mounts.

Yard House launched its first restaurant in 1996 in Long Beach with the largest selection of draft beers people have seen; as much as 250 tap handles – when other beer pubs were struggling to produce a dozen kinds.  The beer attracted the crowd but the 100-plus mouth-watering dishes on the menu kept the people coming back for more and more. Yard House soon gained a huge following for its upscale-style fusion cuisine, classic-rock soundtrack and of course, its self-proclaimed offering of the world’s largest selection of draft beers.

Over the last 12 years, Yard House expanded exponentially. Now with 20 restaurants and 5 more in the works, the chain has restaurants in Long Beach, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Rancho Mirage, San Diego, Pasadena, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, Newport Beach, and  Brea, all in California; in Colorado; Illinois; Kansas; Phoenix,Arizona; Scottsdale, Arizona; Glendale Arizona; Waikiki, Hawaii;  Las Vegas, Nevada; and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

With an average unit volume of $8.5 million per store and cumulatively estimated at close to $200 million annually in sales, Yard House is the recipient of many accolades and awards, including the Hot Concept! award by Nation’s Restaurant News, and the Best Chain Overall Beverage Program as voted by Cheers Magazine. The company was also ranked among the Top 50 Fastest Growing Full Service Chains by Restaurant Hospitality (which also featured the Yard House as a Concept of Tomorrow), and among the Top 100 Independent Grossing Restaurant in the United States according to Restaurants & Institutions Magazine.

Yard House is the first restaurant brand in TSG’s portfolio, whose other food-related investments include Famous Amos, Terra Chips, Garden of Eatin’ snacks, Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts and Smart Balance. Managing about $1.5 billion in invested capital, TSG, together with partners Platt, Hermann and Jocson, have been developing a short- and long-term strategic growth program to make Yard House a national brand.

“We have as much capital as we need to grow, but our performance will lead our growth,” said Platt. “Yard House could parlay its growth momentum into a billion-dollar company, but it’s not about speed, it’s about doing things the right way, “ he added.

And doing things the right way, they have certainly done. So much so that Chef Jocson disclosed that Yard House is poised to go public with the company within the next five years; which is something smart investors should look forward to. After all, Yard House has proven it’s not only a good place to tap in for fun; it’s a great place to tap into good business, too.


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Ingredients for Success

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
In any recipe, picking the right ingredients is perhaps the most crucial — one that would determine the flavors of the dish. Carlito Jocson’s recipe for business success has the following key ingredients which every aspiring businessman might find useful and inspiring.
First, know your strengths and your passion. What work do you love to do? If you like what you’re doing, then you wouldn’t mind doing it for long hours, maybe even for the rest of your life. Knowing what you want to do in life is like knowing how to pick the finest components in making your stew.

Knowing is half the battle. The next thing you need to do is to hone your skills in order to master your craft well. Carlito said that while other kids his age were playing, he and his brothers were helping their mother prepare food in the kitchen. Even while he was still in high school, Carlito worked part-time to improve his culinary skills.

The third ingredient is hard work and going the extra mile. As they say, no pain, no gain. While he no longer advocates this stressful work schedule, Jocson’s work ethics clearly shows that he makes sure the work is done, and done excellently.

The final ingredient in his recipe is having creativity and an adventurous spirit. One has to be a dreamer, a visionary who can think up of ways and means to offer people something new.  Yard House regulars say that they keep coming back for the extensive food selection –and not just for the beer and the music. Being the restaurant chain’s corporate executive chef, Carlito makes sure there is something for everyone at the Yard House –from the basic to the exotic.

Jocson kept these elements for success in mind wherever he worked. And he was given due recognition for his hardwork when Harald Herrmann finally gave him the biggest break of his life and said “The only guy I want to handle the food is you.”

Summing up what’s needed for a Pinoy to succeed in America, Carlito simply stated that God created us to work for excellence and not for mediocrity. “Just do your best in everything you do,” Jocson advised.


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Just Add Faith: How Carlito Jocson found God and the perfect recipe for success

by Gayle Gatchalian/AJPress
Meet Carlito Jocson, one of the partners and Corporate Executive Chef of Yard House Restaurants. A simple fellow with grand taste, this forty-year-old lives to love his family and cook astounding dishes that will floor any food connoisseur. But there is also something behind this relaxed chef, a certain peace and profundity that is as inspiring as the food he lays at your table. This is his story.

The saga begins

“Being Filipino, we love to eat,” begins Carlito’s tale. This food-loving household provided an interesting environment for Carlito. While other kids were taking out the trash, the Jocson kids were prepping food for their mother’s dishes. As his teen years came, he found himself seeking the kitchen even outside the home.

Little Chef

At fifteen, Carlito was at Chez Panache in Fullerton, a fine food emporium that served food as well. A restaurant far head of its time, it introduced the wide-eyed young man to black truffles, wine and caviar long before fine dining was commonplace.

It didn’t take very long before he was in with the big boys. He became head line cook for the dinner shift. He was a senior in high school at this time, surreptitiously disappearing every night from his seemingly normal teenage life to seriously play with pots and pans.

He was doing his pre-med at UCLA when a food writer from the Los Angeles Times moseyed into Chez Panache for the customary restaurant critique. The writer called Carlito over after the last bite saying: “I understand you want to be a doctor. But you are going to make a lot more people happy by feeding them than healing them.” The very next day, Carlito quit school and put on his chef’s toque permanently.

A turn for the better

He moved through a couple of restaurants learning everything he could before landing at an ultra-upscale Italian restaurant in Costa Mesa called Antonello’s. He did so well that when the head chef decided to leave, he left the fate of Antonello’s solely in Carlito’s 25-year old hands.

Life was good and only got better. During this time, Carlito met wife Elizabeth, the instant attraction and connection saw them married two months later.

A turn for the worse

After five years at Antonello’s, Carlito wanted to try something else. With the help of a mentor and friend, he put together a quick-service vegetarian restaurant. Despite an entire year of near-slavish conditions to bring it to life, the enterprise failed.

Carlito decided to take a break from it all. He wanted to get to know the family he had neglected– to be a loving partner to Elizabeth and a caring father to his children. They came to Jesus, became Christians and discovered a new chapter in their lives and came to a new understanding of who God was. Despite all the good in their hearts, life still dealt them blow after blow.


“Life felt like it just kept going down.” Carlito and Elizabeth’s relationships with their respective families were deteriorating. There was no job for him. With no one to reach out to but God, the devastated Jocson family found themselves homeless. Everything they owned was stuffed into their Volkswagen Jetta.

Nowhere to go but up

“God works in the realm of miracles,” declared Carlito. “He gives when you can’t stand it anymore.” And indeed God gave, in the form of a magical phone call and an angel named Harald Herrman, an ex-colleague. “I have something for you,” came Harald’s voice on the line and told Carlito to come by one Monday. Carlito walked into Harald’s office Monday morning and was hired on the spot. Harald was in food operations, the Yard House was going through a major reorganization. “The only guy I want to handle the food is you.”

Yard House of dreams

Carlito revamped the entire menu in time to open their first restaurant in Long Beach in 1996. With absolutely no expectations, Carlito worked hard and true, content with having time with his family and time for God. For the first time, Carlito felt like he was fulfilling the ministry God gave him- to be there for his wife and kids. “I believe God created me for excellence, to do my best in everything I do. So I did.”

Yard House opened restaurants all over Southern California and now that a huge national level opportunity has come up, Carlito will continue to man the helm of the kitchen in each and every single restaurant.

“Today, everyone is so results-oriented, you know, focused on the results. I like to focus on the process. To be in the moment and God will take care of the rest. We’re only in control of the moment.” So carpe diem my friends. Live, love and the Lord will have your back.”



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