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Meet Dustin Lancaster of Hotel Covell

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dustin Lancaster.

Dustin, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started washing dishes in restaurants right after high school in Oklahoma, that was my first intro in the restaurant world.  Slowly worked my way up to prep cook, then ran a little cafe on campus in college.  Post college I was a server then bartender working my up managing.   Learned every position along the way.  Paid close attention to details.  At 29 years old I decided I could do it myself and thats exactly what I did.

Then over eight years, I built my company (or “group”), An Eastside Establishment. We opened neighborhood favorites: restaurants, bars, hotels, even a live music venue. It’s all really founded on the belief that all good hospitality endeavors are a result of great collaborations. I have had the privilege to work with extremely talented partners and staff to develop a variety of diverse projects.

Honestly, each of these concepts was inspired by the eclectic and artsy nature of the Eastside and rooted in my passion for quality service and design aesthetic as well as, of course, excellent food and beverage.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?

Opening and operating  hotels, bar and restaurants is rarely smooth.  There are so many moving parts many things go wrong weekly if not sometimes daily.  Solving for the human component is the hardest part of the equation and I mean that on both sides of the table.  Hiring the right employees is incredibly difficult as they are the lifeblood of you business.  They need to be dependable, honest and ambitious if you wan to succeed.  On the flip side of that you need to be able to understand what your customers want. But everyone has different tastes and even some people don’t know what they want at all until the see it.  If you cant get people to come back you won’t be around for very long.

As with all and any new business ventures, there’s always hiccups on the road and hardships along the way. But as each new business is established, not only does your business grow but so do you in learning your mistakes.

Everyone always asks if it’s harder to run multiple businesses versus just one, and in my opinion, things get easier the more you’re in it.

Hotel Covell – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I started as an actor… then managed a bar as I mentioned before, but I didn’t go to business school. I had never signed a commercial lease, drafted an operating agreement, hired employees, dealt with workers comp… I knew nothing about things like liability insurance, taxes, bookkeeping…etc.

It’s basically been a long and unforgiving crash course. So maybe I’m known for the fact that I didn’t know what I was doing, to begin with, and somehow ended up running an entire company with various businesses. In all honesty, one important thing I’ve learned is that there could be 100 people in the room that don’t believe in you, and one does, and it changes your entire life.

We have one boutique hotel (and another in the works) that is unlike almost any other small hotel I have ever seen and have a live music venue that holds about 350 people, plus a small micro-brewery…

I think we are set apart by our relationship to our customers. We try exceptionally hard to deliver the best experience possible in service and product every single day. Having a very low turnover rate allows our staff to develop long-term regulars and loyal patrons.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Definitely my kids first. After that, business-wise, in a more general sense just taking my ideas and dreams that I’ve had for years and realizing/implementing them.

I’ve made tons of mistakes but I believe you learn just as much if not more from those than the successes.I think its going to sound incredibly cliché but I’m not a person who believes in regrets or do-overs. I’ve been veery blessed to have the trajectory I have had and i’m incredibly grateful.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 4628 Hollywood Blvd Los Angeles CA 90027
  • Website: barcovell.com
  • Phone: 323 660 4400
  • Email: info@barcovell.com
  • Instagram: @barcovell

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