In a truly inspiring journey, 43-year-old Randy Hazelton, the CEO of H&H Hospitality, has risen to success as a Black entrepreneur in the competitive world of airport concession stands and restaurants. Today, his company manages over twenty diverse airport dining establishments, employing nearly 100 individuals. Hazelton’s business portfolio includes sought-after brands such as Shake Shack and Auntie Anne’s, and the firm is on track to achieve a substantial $50 million in revenue this year, according to Forbes.
Hazelton’s early life was marked by a transient lifestyle. He grew up in a military family that moved frequently before finally settling in Atlanta. The foundation of discipline instilled by his father played a pivotal role in shaping his character. However, during his teenage years, Hazelton admittedly prioritized basketball over academics. He found solace and passion in the sport rather than textbooks.
When Hazelton embarked on his entrepreneurial journey and encountered a series of trials, he couldn’t help but reflect on the bad habits he had nurtured during his youth. In 2006, he took a leap of faith. He left his job to establish Café Circa, a restaurant and bar located in downtown Atlanta. While the venture initially thrived, its inefficiency eventually led to bankruptcy. Hazelton realized that a lack of understanding of the intricacies of the restaurant industry was the underlying issue.
“We didn’t know how to make money because we didn’t do the homework,” Hazelton told Forbes. In 2012, he decided to sell Café Circa and utilized the proceeds to initiate his franchising endeavor.
In 2007, Hazelton founded H&H Hospitality. The company is a venture that has thrived thanks in part to the Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Act (ACDBE), a government program offering support to minority- and women-owned businesses operating within federally funded airports.
The Life of a Black Entrepreneur
Hazelton attests that this program has been a transformative force in his life. He calls it a “springboard” for smaller enterprises looking to expand within the restaurant franchising sector.
One of H&H’s notable locations is at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, one of the world’s busiest travel hubs. Here, they have joined forces with Concessions International to bring travelers the beloved flavors of Shake Shack and Auntie Anne’s. Looking ahead, the company has plans to introduce a Slutty Vegan restaurant, a popular plant-based burger brand owned by the innovative entrepreneur Pinky Cole.
Nonetheless, Hazelton’s journey has not been without its share of challenges, encompassing fees, advertising expenditures, and employee management. To surmount these obstacles and achieve resounding success, Randy Hazelton transformed into a relentless “homework nerd.” He diligently analyses successful models and adopts a copy-and-paste approach from established concepts.
In his own words, this successful Black entrepreneur emphasizes, “Borrow from other folks,” asserting that some of the most remarkable successes are born from emulating what is already tried and true.