Whiskey Cake wasn’t Front Burner Restaurants’ first concept. But for many, Whiskey Cake typifies the Front Burner Restaurant (now FB Society) brand. When Whiskey Cake opened in Plano about seven years ago, Plano residents noticed. They created such immediate buzz that one had to arrive at 4 p.m. on a Thursday to get a table for dinner. It was a mad house. Guests entered, sipped craft cocktails, marveled at their namesake dish Whiskey Cake, and everyone wondered what would come next.
Next, was Mexican Sugar. Then Sixty Vines. Haywire and Legacy Food Hall. Front Burner Restaurants became a giant in DFW dining by focusing on individual restaurant concepts, rather than creating big chains, and utilizing local sourcing. They were some of the first to utilize meal kits when the pandemic started, even offering toilet paper with some of them. They also launched a nonprofit to help feed furloughed hospitality workers, Furlough Kitchen.
Now they’re repositioning again. Front Burner Restaurants is no more. FB Society, an immersive restaurant company designed to offer more than good food, stands in its place.
Former Front Burner president and current FB Society CEO, Jack Gibbons says that for them, the COVID-19 pandemic was an opportunity to reflect on their success and reframe their future. They came up the dream of a fully integrated collection of brands “uniquely positioned for long-term growth and success.”
In layman’s terms, the way we dine is changing, and FB Society wants to ride that wave.
The FB Society team describes the company as a restaurant innovation lab. They brainstorm concepts such as Whiskey Cake, Legacy Hall, and Mexican Sugar, and test them, constantly pursuing perfection, embracing experimentation.
FB Society operates under the mission of creating and executing experiences that have never before been imagined. The rebrand launches with 10 restaurant brands across 25 locations. But it’s more than just restaurants. FB Society also has a food hall, Modern Pour and Vestals premium catering, an event venue in historic Bingham House, a craft brewery in Unlawful Assembly Brewing Co. and even the non-profit Furlough Kitchen. There’s even more on the horizon.
“While so many brands were forced to retract, or even shut down during the current crisis, we made a decision that Front Burner would not only survive, but emerge smarter, stronger and more cohesive,” said Randy DeWitt, Chairman of FB Society.
Some of their concrete steps include expanding Whiskey Cake and Sixty Vines concepts to new markets. FB Society will also incubate new concepts. They’re introducing Son of a Butcher, a nostalgic burger and shake spot, and an imaginative new chicken tender concept, Buttercup.
Like so many journalists and amateur detectives, they’re also moving into podcasting. FB Society will launch a new podcast, BTS: Behind the Society, designed to engage both the team and guests, and to “showcase innovators, disruptors and haymakers in the restaurant space.” Finally, a podcast that brings new meaning to the idea of consumer culture.
DeWitt said that he “couldn’t be more excited.”
“My great friend and partner, Jack Gibbons, is at the helm as CEO,” he continued. “Jack has long been recognized for his unmatched creative energy and operational expertise that push culinary and hospitality boundaries. FB Society is in extraordinary hands.”
Gibbons and DeWitt have been the dynamic duo behind Front Burner since 2008. Gibbons served as president and chief creative officer.
“Over the last several months, we have assembled an even more dynamic leadership team with the intellectual and creative firepower needed to propel FB Society to its rightful place among the very best innovators in the country,” Gibbons said.
That team includes Dan Lawler, who will remain chief financial officer, and Rae Philips-Luther, who, through a strategic partnership with R Circle, will serve as chief brand officer. Her task will be “growing emotional equity of both internal and external consumers through FB Society’s mission: to create and execute experiences never imagined.” Jaff Carcara will step in as Sixty Vines’ CEO, and Ray Risley will serve as president of the Whiskey Cake brand.
Gibbons said that the pandemic is far from over. But FB Society will emerge with more potential than ever before, and more business ventures too.
“Randy and I have long seen our mission as designing experiences never imagined,” he said. “While we have made tremendous strides already, I’m confident in saying ‘you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!’”