Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 113

Hot Tin restaurant at the
Pontchartrain in New Orleans

Tell us about the name.
My wife had it on a holiday card, 'wishing you
a happy new year and an adventurous journey.'
In 2008, I had started business school, had
my first kid, and started the company. It was
an adventurous journey, to say the least. We're
really thankful and appreciative to have the
opportunities that we do in front of us. It is a
wild journey, and we never know where it's
going to go; I just wanted to celebrate that-
and have a company name that could confuse
people [into thinking] we're a tour operator.
[Laughs]

Most recently you started Graduate
Hotels, cool properties in college
towns, which for many in the industry
was a 'why doesn't this exist already?'
moment. How did the idea come
about?
We had done four hotels in Chicago, and one
of them was the Hotel Lincoln in the Lincoln
Park neighborhood. It had the characteristic
high barrier to entry, lower price point but
really told the story of the community. It had a
strong narrative of connecting to local people
and having them take ownership. They take
pride in where they live and who they are, but
didn't have a hotel that really reflected that.
We wanted to emulate that, and we started
looking at the college market and saw there
was a real lack of product in that vein and
nothing really national in terms of a brand
built around those areas of culture, commerce,
and creativity.
I'm from one of these towns. I grew up right
next to the University of Dayton in Ohio, went

The reception area at the Graduate Charlottesville

to undergrad at University of Tennessee-
which is a great college town-and graduate
school in the Big Ten [at Northwestern
University in Evanston, Illinois]. I really could
see the dynamics around these markets. We
pride ourselves on the sort of high to low.
Look at a restaurant group that's done a fancy
restaurant and then a Shake Shack-they still
have the same service, culture, and the same
idea of taking whatever you do and being the
best at it. We take that approach to everything
that we do, having the same hospitality culture
regardless of price point or place in a market.

Graduate's eclectic design isn't like
any other brand. Is that one of the ways
you're separating yourselves?
I really connected with Andrew [Alford, AJ's
chief creative officer] on a personal level and
his approach, and what we try to do, is design
that [looks like it] evolved over time. There isn't
a programmatic approach; it is layered and

textured and found and discovered and added
here and there. Andrew speaks that language
better than anybody I've ever worked with.
We want to be hyper local on each one of
the assets and find out the history, the heritage,
and the traditions that make these towns really
special and celebrate that. That's through
art, the programming, and the design-these
subtle ways that people discover things and
then become ambassadors and salespeople for
what we do.

And it's not the obvious.
You would expect to go to a school in Lincoln,
Nebraska and see the Tommy Frasier approach
[an award-winning former quarterback for
the University of Nebraska]. That's not what
we're doing. We're looking for the local heroes
and the guys that you would only know as a
resident or a student and then magnifying that
story on a macro level.

hospitalitydesign.com November 2016

113

Photo by CHRISTIAN HORAN

compression in some of these markets and
having a distinctive asset-hospitality is such
an emotional decision for leisure travel.
The hotels continue to perform because
there's only one of them, and only one
experience like that in each of these specific
markets. We would talk to the owners and
explain that we would be wonderful stewards
of their asset, and they were comfortable with
us. Knowing that we're smaller and had the
best interest in the asset in mind, gave us
a platform and runway. It evolved to larger
hotels, more innovation, and heavier value-add
components, and that's what got us there.
Most of the people [who] originally
[invested with us to start AJ] were real estate or
hotel investors because people thought we were
crazy. But if you really understood the market
dynamics and the assets and what we were
getting into, we were kind of the only people.
We had a niche and wanted to exploit that.


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Hospitality Design - November 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Hospitality Design - November 2016

Hospitality Design - November 2016
Contents
Online TOC
From the Editor
From the Guest Editor
Perspectives
Memoir
Places Tel Aviv
Places Jason’s Picks
5 Questions for John Mcdonald
Products
Profile Jono Pandolfi
Lighting
Seating
Wallcoverings
The New Icons
Ad Index
Back Space
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Hospitality Design - November 2016
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Cover2
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 1
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 2
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 3
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 4
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 5
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 6
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 7
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 8
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 9
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 10
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 11
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 12
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Contents
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 14
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 15
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 16
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Online TOC
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 18
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 19
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 20
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 21
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - From the Editor
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 23
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 24
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 25
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - From the Guest Editor
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 27
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 28
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 29
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 30
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 31
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 32
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 33
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 34
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Perspectives
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 36
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 37
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 38
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Memoir
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 40
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 41
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 42
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 43
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 44
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Places Tel Aviv
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 46
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 47
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 48
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 49
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 50
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 51
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 52
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Places Jason’s Picks
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 54
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 55
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 56
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 57
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 58
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 59
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 60
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 61
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 62
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 63
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Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 66
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 67
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 5 Questions for John Mcdonald
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 69
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 70
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 71
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 72
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 73
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 74
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Products
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 76
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 77
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 78
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Profile Jono Pandolfi
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 80
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 81
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 82
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Lighting
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 84
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 85
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 86
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 87
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 88
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 89
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 90
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Seating
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 92
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 93
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 94
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 95
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 96
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 97
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 98
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Wallcoverings
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 100
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 101
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 102
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 103
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 104
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - The New Icons
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 106
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 107
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 108
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 109
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 110
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 111
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 112
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 113
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Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 138
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 139
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 140
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 141
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Ad Index
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 143
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Back Space
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Cover3
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Cover4
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