Brian Bogert’s grandfather opened Hobnobbers, the popular bar atop the Centennial Plaza tower at NW 59th and May, before Bogert was born. The bar is gone now, but the memories of being in Hobnobbers as a toddler and throughout his childhood have bubbled up for him over the past few years as the growth of The Social Order Dining Collective (he is the founder) is accelerating.
“Hobnobbers is one of those memories that I’m sure had some subconscious effect on me in choosing hospitality,” Bogert said. “As these memories have resurfaced, I think the time spent with my grandfather there introduced me to the allure and romanticism of the industry.”
That allure concretized for him at 15, when he ran the grill at the Quail Creek Country Club–the Terrace Room at that time. “At some point, my manager decided this teenage kid was trustworthy and responsible enough to run the place,” Bogert said. “So I did everything from seat people, to take the orders, to cook the food, to tab them out. I was hooked by the idea of providing service at that level. I started telling people I’d have my own restaurant one day.”
The first restaurant was Texadelphia in Bricktown, a franchise operation that Bogert chose because of his familiarity with a Dallas location where he and his friends ate regularly while students at Southern Methodist University.
“I went to work for Accenture in Dallas after graduation, and that taught me what I didn’t want to do with my life,” Bogert said. “I didn’t want to burn out for a corporation; I wanted to work for myself.”
He called the franchisee of the Dallas Texadelphia, and he admits he was nervous.
“I loved the restaurant, and I wanted to bring it back to OKC,” he said. “But I don’t even think I knew what franchising was at the time. I had no idea how he’d respond, but he was very helpful and kind — nuts and bolts of franchising, running your own business, specifics about Texadelphia, etc.”
Bogert said that with both Fuzzy’s and Texadelphia, he was lucky enough to get into the company early enough to help with developing the concepts.
“We were experienced with running a bar, so when we got the Fuzzy’s store in Norman, the Texas-based concepts still didn’t have a bar menu. We developed the bar menu, color schemes, fish-bowl cocktails, all kinds of things, and we proceeded simply by asking what guests wanted.”
Many of the answers were eventually adopted system wide, and now, as he prepares to open eight Dave’s Hot Chicken franchises in Oklahoma, he’s grateful to be getting in after the ground-level development is done.
“This will be the first time I’ve started a franchise location where all that preliminary work was already done,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it, and at the same time, I have a slight concern that decisions made on the West Coast won’t necessarily fit well here. A franchise needs to be adaptable enough that the main elements remain, but some elements need to be localized.”
Moving into 2022, Bogert is most proud of the changes Social Order is implementing to help employees. The company is really a management holding operation, with concepts paying in to take care of management issues, and he credits president and partner Courtney Mankin with seeing the big picture issues that led to the formation of Social Order. To improve the relationships with employees, the company began a matching 401K program for all 500 employees starting Jan. 1, 2022, and hourly employees will also receive paid time off.
“We want our people to be able to see this as a career,” Borgert said. “People need a vacation, and hospitality workers shouldn’t have to double up shifts or front-end excess work just to take time off. We’re happy to make this happen.”