Restaurateur and entrepreneur Allen Corey ’74 has a rather simple formula for success in the hospitality business and gives substantial credit to his Baylor years for helping him discover it.
As founder and president of SquareOne Holdings, Corey cites teamwork, respect, loyalty, focus, commitment, and communication as the special ingredients in the food business – all concepts he learned as a Baylor student. “Baylor also impacted me by giving me lifelong friendships with extraordinary people. We all had the privilege of being in the presence of great people at all times,” he says.
Though Corey’s company is developing opportunities from St. Louis to Stowe, Vt., his latest ventures are local ones that include STIR, located at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, and State of Confusion on Main Street. Along with his partners, Corey always develops a concept for his restaurants. “The thought at STIR was to deliver true craft cocktails along with made-from-scratch food and superior service. There were a lot of operators specializing in beer, so we wanted to deliver something different and unique.”
Baylor impacted me by giving me lifelong friendships with extraordinary people. We all had the privilege of being in the presence of great people at all times.
With State of Confusion, Corey says the real estate played a big part in inspiration as his team renovated and repurposed the former salvage yard known as Estate of Confusion. “Estate of Confusion was a place…State of Confusion is a state of mind,” says Corey. “We offer ceviche, a sophisticated style of preparing seafood that we felt was not represented in Chattanooga. With both restaurants, the key was to differentiate, remain relevant, and provide a great experience every time to every guest.”
Though his success makes it seem that Corey must know something other entrepreneurs do not, he is quick to share the secrets of his success for students entering the workforce in the future. “Communication – know how to engage people directly,” he says succinctly. “Text messages and emails are not adequate. You have to be available to engage directly and talk with team members, vendors, and other outside sources. Always get great people on your team, and be willing to grow along with them. The quality of your team will always be the key factor in your success.”
Corey is pictured (left) at State of Confusion pictured with Fletcher Thompson ’02, manager of STIR and State of Confusion.