Tuesday, Aug 16th

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Hotseat - Drew Zollars

830_hotseatRed Piano co-owner Drew Zollars gives a sneak peek into his world in this week’s Hot Seat.

Who is Drew Zollars?

I was born and raised in Canton, Ohio, USA. Married in 2010, I have a beautiful wife Athena, and two little boys Nikko (20 months) and Lukka (four months) who are my world. We have a long distance marriage as odd as that sounds. I’m here running The Red Piano and Athena has a professional career back in Ohio. Fortunately, we get to see each other often and have the opportunity to travel a lot. It keeps life fun and fresh with the changes in atmospheres. We never thought our relationship would be like this, but we see ourselves finally being together soon and it’s not going to be in Ohio!


How would you describe yourself?

I would say I am a pretty easy-going person, hard worker and have a dynamic personality that most people can deal with. I like to have fun and make people smile and laugh, but I can be pretty darn serious too.

Your best attribute?

My work ethic – I don’t think I would be where I am today without it. I feel my work ethic has opened doors and given my opportunities along the way in my career. I don’t think it’s something that people are born with either. I had good examples growing up and I attribute it to my mother and father as they were hardworking individuals and good role models.

Where were you educated, what did you study and why?

I attended Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, and graduated in 2003 with a major in Business Administration with concentrations in Marketing and Management and was a four-year letterman in Varsity Wrestling. I always thought I wanted to be a teacher and coach, but had a change of heart after my first year of college and found business interesting and decided one day I wanted to own my own business.

How did you end up in the field of business?

I arrived on the island three months after I graduated from college and started looking for work in banks, hotels, etc. After being told numerous times that interns from Holland usually end up with these jobs as work study (and I was broke), I decided to start looking for work in bars and/or restaurants. This is when I met Pierre Ferland – also known as The Head Pineapple – owner of Pineapple Pete. With zero experience, he liked me for some reason and trained me in his first establishment the Time Out Sports Bar. I began working there in the evenings and soon after spent my days with him helping open Pineapple Pete, eventually working there fulltime. Along with the chef, I was the first employee and ended becoming a waiter and soon after the manager. I spent seven years with Pierre and in the meantime had the opportunity to partner with him in The Alley and ESPN Cafe. I have to say that Pierre is one of the major reasons I’m still in St. Maarten today. He believed in me, taught me, mentored me and has been there for me every step along the way to where I am today.

How did you end up with The Red Piano?

I don’t know if it was the seven-year itch or just the fact that I wanted to do something different, one of the toughest decisions I’ve made was to leave the previous company and a few months later had the opportunity to buy into The Red Piano. I guess everything happens for a reason. I’ve been involved there for four years now and absolutely love my job.

What differentiates The Red Piano from other similar establishments in St. Maarten?

We take pride in offering top notch entertainment (voted best live music venue in The Daily Herald’s “Best of” poll four years and running) and offer exceptional service with what I believe are some of the best staff people on the island and not to mention a great product, consisting of a huge selection of alcohol for your everyday enjoyment or that rare spirit for that special occasion.

What’s your approach to managing your business?

I believe some of the most successful businesses in St. Maarten have the owner present and involved. I feel this is very important to help enhance the customer’s experience and be involved with your team. This shows a sense of leadership and you all work together in the same direction with the same philosophy and practice. I also feel it is important to have an open line of communication with your team and explain to them your thought process so everyone understands why we are doing something a particular way. I feel your business is only as successful as your staff persons are good and I have to say I work with some great people.

How can the business climate in St. Maarten be enhanced?

I feel St. Maarten is headed in the right direction with the international marketing and what the island has to offer; it has become an outstanding well-known vacation destination. There have been things done to build the infrastructure and upgrades with the airport and cruise facility to better accommodate the volume of tourists we get; and as long as we maximise the number of tourists visiting here, businesses will do well.

How do you occupy yourself when you are not working?

I enjoy beaching, golfing and travelling; but most of all, I love spending time with my wife and kids. My time with them is priceless. Whether it is here or back home in Ohio, we are together as much as our careers offer, and often we just make the time to be together.

Favourite pastimes?

Being a kid! I had a great childhood filled with many fond memories from family vacations, holidays and sports and those carefree days with little responsibilities...now those were the days!

Pet peeve?

I may be a little OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) to a certain extent; I like things in order, clean and neat. When things are not, it drives me crazy.

Where do you see yourself and Red Piano in 10 years?

Considering I only came to St. Maarten for one month, and 11 years later still here; I’m thinking that is a tough one to predict. However, I love SXM and so does my wife. In 10 years, I see The Red Piano continuing to offer great entertainment and making memories and being the highlight of people’s vacation.

What is your favourite type of music?

I generally listen to all types of music, but I do have to say I do like my Country music. I play it in my car and it’s on my iPad and phone.

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?

I’ve never been much of a person who gets star struck or really is interested in famous people. I’m a pretty simple person who likes to cook; but if I just had one wish, it would be to sit next to my father again, right at the bar in The Red Piano, have a beer with him and share stories like we used to and have some good laughs. Now that would top meeting any famous person in the world!