Brent Brown, founder and CEO of Jacksonville-based Latitude 360 (OTCQB: LATX), talks with Opportunist’s Managing Editor Leslie Stone about his innovative restaurant and entertainment concept and his plans for expansion.

In 2007, Brent Brown, who had already worked in real estate development and acquisition, re-zoning, rental management and investment banking for nearly a decade, began traveling around the country, searching for an innovative restaurant concept to develop. But he didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. He wanted to create something that had not been done before. “I looked at all kinds of concepts from boutique movie theatres to family entertainment centers to different types of restaurants and realized that if people want to go out, there are a lot of restaurants and bars to choose from,” Brown says. “If they want live music or bowling, there are venues for those activities. But there is not a lot in between. So I started putting a concept and a team of people together.”

Nearly four years later, in January 2011, the first Latitude 360 food and beverage entertainment experience opened in Jacksonville. Guests can enjoy upscale casual dining, bowling, gaming, movies, high-definition sports and live entertainment under one roof. “Today’s customer isL30 Axis Bar HiRes 0095 very difficult to stimulate,” says Brown. “One dimensional entertainment, as great as it might be, just isn’t enough. Customers want options, and that’s what we give them. They can come in and cheer their favorite team on in our sports theater or go into a comedy show and laugh in Latitude Live, watch a great movie in our Cinegrille, enjoy a delicious dining experience, dance on the dance floor in our Axis Bar or bowl on our luxury lanes—all those experiences are wrapped into one. We are not a night club or a cruise ship on land. We are not a Dave & Buster’s concept. We are a restaurant with a platform to entertain our customers. Some people call us a disruptive technology in the restaurant space, which is a compliment because we have done something that nobody has ever done.”

Opportunist: What makes Latitude 360 unique?

Brent Brown: The fact that we focus on an experience. When we designed this, we went to the large upscale casual market segment. We wanted to target that diner who’s going out two, three, or even four DSC_2286times a week to restaurants like Maggiano’s, P.F. Chang’s and the Cheesecake Factory—and blend it in with live entertainment options like no other brand in history. We wanted to build it around our 360 platform that is programmable with just about any talent from musicians, to comedians, to movie producers to chefs, artists, charity events, birthday parties, you name it. We have so many types of events, which are all flexible, space driven to bring people to the restaurant and entertain them while they’re there. We aren’t a nightclub, but you can come in at night and see people dancing. We aren’t a bowling alley or a move theater, but people can come in and bowl or see a movie. It’s flexible, and that is exactly how I wanted to design this brand. You can come on one Friday night and listen to music, watch a movie or a comedian or sporting events on TV, and the next Friday it’s all different. That’s how we are keeping our brand fresh. It’s constantly moving and evolving. In the marketplace we are the magic elixir that revives big box real estate.

Opportunist: How are your entertainment choices different?

Brent Brown: We aren’t necessarily doing anything that is out of the box as far as the type of entertainment we offer. Movies, sporting events, bowling, dancing and live entertainment have certainly been around forever. But when you lay it out in an upscale environment, in a 360 experience, it is definitelyIMG_1033 different. I designed the venue around dining and each of the entertainment platforms that we build are really treated as an extension of our dining. I want people to sit down and eat and drink anywhere in the facility. Wherever you are in the complex, you have a server. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons we will see two generations on a play date eating, drinking and having a good time. The parents might go to a comedy show while the younger couple might bowl and see a movie. What other brands are able to have that cross-generational appeal where everybody feels comfortable? There aren’t many out there, but we do that … all under one roof.

Opportunist: Where are your current locations?

Brent Brown: We have three stand-alone locations in the so-called B markets right now: Jacksonville, Fla., Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. The next three will be in retail centers in Albany, New York, South Boston near Plymouth, Mass., and 20 minutes west of downtown Minneapolis. Our Latitude 360 experience is tailored specifically to the local community. For example, we tailor it differently in New York than in Minneapolis or Jacksonville.

Opportunist: What is your primary role as CEO?

Brent Brown: I wear lots of hats. My job is not to simply bring in people who have expertise with breakfast, lunch and dinner. I bring in people who are experts in a lot of areas. We might have 10 birthday parties on a Saturday afternoon, a band setting up, a movie starting, and a UFC fight in the sports theater. The atmosphere is constantly in motion, and my job is to bring people in who can handle that.

Opportunist: What other concepts are you working on?

Brent Brown: We are working with chefs and well-known brands in the restaurant business to create a platform where people will come in specifically for this chef or that chef. We are also an event-booking venue and we bring in all types of talent, such as singer-songwriter Jason Derulo, American Idol winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, and we also offer memberships for people who want to enjoy special offers and discounts. We will also feature up and coming chefs and invite our customers try them out. Our platform is designed to constantly bring in all sorts of talent.

Opportunist: What are the company’s competitive advantages?

Brent Brown: One of the huge competitive advantages we have as a brand is that we schedule people to come to our place. For example, we have comedy every Friday and Saturday, scheduled sporting events that guests can come in and view on TV, and live music in the middle of the facility. Another big advantage to all this flex space is the ability to hold group events. We have held everything from boxing weigh-ins to movie premiers, chefs’ contests, children’s dance recitals—it’s unlimited. There’s a tremendous amount of flexibility in our weekly programming and that gives us a future competitive advantage.

Opportunist: Please tell us about your recent partnership with Brand Synergy Group and how it will create immersive brand experiences at each of your venues.

Brent Brown: It’s a very important partnership. Brand Synergy Group is very diversified and heavily intoCynergy Stage R L30 Mural 0329 music, which we are too, but our partnership with them will enable us to do a lot of cobranding and cross promotion with major brands such as [A.T. Cross Company] Cross pens and Monster Energy drinks. This will get us both exposure. They have access to talent across the country and will be programming our venues on a daily basis with local and national talent. They are the experts and currently represent over 150 artists who want as much exposure as they can get, so we will put them into our venue circuit and get them exposure.

Opportunist: We understand that, just this week, you inked a deal with Qatar-based restaurant and hospitality group Al Sedriyah, which allows them to franchise your brand in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Brent Brown: Yes. Our franchise agreement with Al Sedriyah will facilitate our expansion efforts into the Middle East and also give them first rights of refusal into Egypt and Turkey for potential future locations, including United Arab Emirates. It’s exciting for us because the population of the Middle East is almost 300 million and, according to the World Bank, Qatar is ranked as the highest GDP per capita and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is ranked the ninth highest. Al Sedriyah has a great vision for the Middle East and how to maximize the Latitude 360 brand, and I believe this agreement is a testament to our potential growth.

Opportunist: What else is in the pipeline for 2015?

Brent Brown: We will be making some exciting announcements over the next three months as we continue to evolve our brand and our concept. Right now we are focused on opening a minimum of three new locations, which are currently under construction. And we are shooting for one more. So we anticipate doubling the size of our company within six months.

Opportunist: Is there anything you would like to say to potential investors?

Brent Brown: We offer a unique opportunity in that we are entering a market that has had the same brands for three decades—no one new has come into the upscale casual dining market like us. Also, we areIMG_1037 at the beginning of our growth curve, with plans to double every year for the next three years. Our 360 experience provides the gateway to customize our brand while we target different areas, whether it be overseas or the United States. We are that flexible. What brand can enter a new market and create customized experiences for that area —the city, the culture, etc.? That most definitely lessens the risks we would face if we were trying to fit a one-dimensional concept or brand. We have an excellent board of directors that includes a co-founder of Outback Steakhouse, the CEO of the nation’s leading quality of life services company, an attorney specializing in municipal/government law and business real estate, as well as several other successful entrepreneurs.

Opportunist: Where do you see Latitude 360 within five years?

Brent Brown: My goal is to be in or have agreements signed with just about every major market in the country, and to be one of the top recognized restaurant and entertainment brands in the country.

Leslie Stone is an award-winning writer, editor and journalist with more than two decades of experience covering business, finance, real estate and lifestyle issues for newspapers, magazines and online publications. Originally from Virginia, she currently resides between Florida and Michigan. Follow Leslie on Twitter: @lescstone.

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