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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Marc Glosserman, Founder, Chief Executive Officer - Hill Country Hospitality Sponsored by Topical BioMedics, Inc. (Topricin)

Marc Glosserman

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Marc Glosserman is the Founder and CEO of Hill Country Hospitality, a New York-based restaurant management and development company. 

While Marc had a distinct East Coast upbringing, his Texas roots date back four generations. Marc’s grandfather was the mayor of Lockhart, Texas, a small town near Austin with the distinction of being the Official Barbecue Capital of the State. His parents attended the University of Texas and moved to Washington, DC when his father finished law school there. Marc was born in Columbia, Maryland on June 2nd, 1974. As a child, he looked forward to his Texas visits, where he indulged in all the local traditions, including eating smoked sausages and barbecue at the legendary Kreuz Market, drinking Big Red Soda,cooling off with Blue Bell Ice Cream, and enjoying the sounds of Austin’s rock, blues and country music.

In 2004 Marc moved to New York seeking a new professional challenge after having lived and worked in Europe for four years. He soon met his future wife, Kristen, a native New Yorker, and began working on a plan to open an authentic, Texas-style barbecue joint in the Big Apple. Manhattan was the ideal place to launch this restaurant project because of its diverse residents, eclectic culture, and impassioned dining scene.

In June 2006, Marc formed Hill Country Hospitality and the following year launched Hill Country Barbecue Market – a 10,000 square foot, 300-seat barbecue restaurant in New York City dedicated to honoring the barbecue and live music capital of Texas. Inspired by the grand old meat markets that evolved into modern day barbecue joints in Central Texas, Hill Country has won numerous accolades and critical praise since its opening including Best Barbecue in New York by New York Magazine, Timeout, and Citysearch in 2008, Top Ten New Restaurants of 2008 in New York Magazine, as well as Top Ten Barbecue Restaurants in the U.S. by the Wall Street Journal in 2007. A second Hill Country Barbecue Market opened in downtown Washington, DC this past March and a forthcoming concession at Madison Square Garden will open this month.  Hill Country is Highly Recommended by Whom You Know:

Marc is descended from a long line of Texas women with exceptional southern cooking skills. In the fall of 2010, Marc opened Hill Country Chicken, a fast casual eatery-featuring premium fried chicken and homemade pies - a tribute to his Texas grandmothers. The restaurant, located near the original Hill Country and across the street from Madison Square Park, opened to critical acclaim and lines around the block. Hill Country Pie Kitchen, a national mail-order pie business, is launching in early 2012.

Before entering the world of hospitality, Marc served as Chief Executive Officer of Centric Telecom, a broadband service provider based in London, England from 2001 to 2004. Prior to Centric, in 1998 Marc co-founded and served as Chief Operating Officer of eLink Communications, a Washington, DC-based Telecommunications Company. 

Marc was an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist in 2000 and 2001, and is a current member of the Entrepreneurs Organization’s New York chapter. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for Georgetown Day School, his alma mater elementary and high school located in Washington, DC. Marc graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in International Relations and received his MBA from Columbia University where his business plan for Hill Country won funding from the Business School. 

A fitness and sports enthusiast, Marc completed the Nation’s Triathlon in Washington DC in 2008 and the New York City ING Marathon in 2009. He and his wife, Kristen, live in New York City two blocks from their Manhattan restaurants. They have three children – Austin (4 years), Skye (3 years), and Jaclyn (1 year). Their eldest, Austin, was born just hours after Hill Country debuted on the New York restaurant scene in June 2007. The community-driven spirit of New York keeps Marc, his family, and his business tied to the city in a very passionate way. Continually inspired by this city, Marc’s influence on Manhattan revolves around his dedication to providing New Yorkers with quality, home-cooked Southern food - from his grandmothers’ fried chicken and pies to the classic Texas barbecue that keeps people coming back for more. We are so pleased to present Marc Glosserman as our latest Mover and Shaker! Peachy Deegan interviewed Marc Glosserman for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What should Manhattanites know about Texas that most do not know? 
Marc Glosserman: That Austin is one of the few cities in the US that New Yorkers and Californians can feel equally at home.

What is the most challenging aspect of making sure everything at Hill Country is so authentic? "Authentic" is a relative term. It's one thing to a New Yorker and another to a Texan. To one person it might be about the wood used to smoke the meat and to another it might be about driving two hours to a bbq shack on the side of the road with a screen door coming off its hinges. No matter how good Hill Country might be, it will never be considered authentic by a lot of folks out there. We simply try our best to honor the traditions of barbecue from the region of Central Texas and serve up the best possible food we can.

Is everything at Hill Country made in the USA? 
 I believe most things at Hill Country are made in the USA; however, "everything" covers the whole restaurant, and it would be quite a stretch in our 21st century global economy to presume that there aren't plenty of "somethings" that are made abroad. I'm sure that if I were to pick up a random sample of objects in the restaurant (off our table tops and bars for instance) and turned them over that there would be a handful of things labeled or imprinted with "Made in China."

What is Big Red Soda we have never had it...or heard of it! 
 It's an iconic Texas "soda pop" that tastes like a strawberry cream soda. I loved it as a kid but now find it a bit sweet; however it pairs great with brisket and sausage (if you're not drinking a cold brew instead).

What influence has Europe had on you and do you think the Hill Country concept would work somewhere there, and if so, where, and if so, would you open one in Europe? 
Europe had a tremendous influence on me. I was over there for four years based in London and was fortunate to travel around the continent often. I always found that the local cuisines of the places I visited provided great insight into the history, culture, trade, and natural bounty of the locale. After that experience, it was easy to lament the lack of deep, rich connection between our food culture and our Country's history (quite short relative to Europe). It dawned on me during a trip to Texas in 2003 that barbecue is just about as American as food gets and that that the evolution of barbecue in the South really tells a uniquely American story. Barbecue was essentially American peasant food for about 100 years. Immigrants, African Americans, and Hispanics in particular ate barbecue because it was the inexpensive, tough cuts of meat that were the butcher's byproducts. To barbecue, to eat barbecue, and to argue about barbecue are all American pastimes. Living in Europe provided me with a new lens through which to look at the US (for better and worse) and to appreciate the link between this great American cuisine known as barbecue and who we are as a people. As for opening in Europe – I think Hill Country could work in certain places under the right circumstances. It would have to be done very thoughtfully and with a lot of respect for local preferences. My wife would love for us to open in London, so she can move the family there. Perhaps some day…

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence? 
 In life – my dad. In the restaurant business – Danny Meyer. In music and sports, both Bruce Springsteen and Michael Jordan have been inspirations respectively for their dogged pursuit of mastering and elevating their craft, for making all of those who collaborated with them better, and for being totally one-of-a-kind originals.

What are you proudest of and why? 
 First, my amazing wife who is a rock and deserves far more credit in all my endeavors than she receives. Next, our three adorable children. And finally, our extended Hill Country team who are simply awesome. You can't really do anything truly great on your own, and, frankly, it wouldn't be that much fun if you did. I get tremendous joy from being able to work toward a vision and through challenges with our people and then sharing in our collective accomplishments together.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do? Perform at Madison Square Garden. Problem is I don't have any talents.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession? 
 I've been in the restaurant business for about five years. While our restaurants have achieved numerous honors over that period of time, I have personally received none.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan? 
At home with my family in our Madison Square Park apartment making pancakes for breakfast on the weekend. So trite, but so true.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan? 
I like the Double RL store on Bleecker Street in the West Village. It's where I get a lot of my Hill Country threads.

What is your favorite drink? 
Tequila on the rocks. Good tequila.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party? 
I got drunk and threw the hostess in the pool. Just kidding.

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan? 
Not fair. There are too many fabulous ones. 

What is your favorite Manhattan book? 
It's a toss up between The Fountainhead and Curious George Goes to the Park.

Who would you like to be for a day and why? 
 The President of the United States on the condition that I could have total executive authority to draft and sign into law any legislation I saw fit. I'd fix a number of things (particularly in our economy) that simply won't get solved with the ongoing deadlock in Washington. Then I'd resign, and the politicians could go back to fighting each other. Totally far fetched, but you asked it.

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why? 
A bridge. Then when I'd be driving in the car with my son, Austin, I could say, "look, there's Daddy's bridge!" instead of, "look there're the George Washington bridge" like I do today. Plus, the folks on the other side of the bridge would have to put up with it being named after a Manhattanite.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience? 
Running the ING Marathon with three of my best buddies in 2009. My lateral hamstring is tightening up just writing this.

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else? 
To look out my window at the Empire State Building and know what holiday it is based on what colors are lighting up the top.

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why? 
My wife's younger brother who passed away when she was a teenager. He was a big part of her life, and I never knew him. 

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience? 
Seeing Coldplay live at MSG.

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world? 
I make sure that our restaurants truly serve our communities as places to work, eat, gather, uplift, and give back.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here? 
Most underrated – Holiday weekends. When most of the City empties out, you can get into nearly any restaurant and catching a cab is a cinch. Most overrated – Street pretzels and hotdogs. I see tourists eating them up and down 5th Avenue. They're really quite horrendous.

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it? 
Peachy's Picks for restaurant reviews that aren't necessarily the newest or most trendy.

Have you drank The Peachy Deegan yet and if not, why not?
I have enjoyed a version of it, and we are planning to put it on the menu at Hill Country for the holidays.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you? 
I think they've probably read enough about me at this point.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers? 
 Please email me at

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