Chad Mackay, Accounting '94, continues his father's mission of creating memorable experiences for diners.

What problem/market need were you addressing when the business started?

My father brought El Gaucho back because he believed that Seattle deserved a place to celebrate life and that it was more than a steakhouse. It was an entertainment experience that harkened back to a time of service, swank, and nostalgia. 

We have since built on the legacy by expanding El Gaucho to new communities and bringing new restaurants for guests to revel in and celebrate life.A server preparing Caesar Salad

What has been the biggest challenge and the biggest reward throughout your journey?

Although the 2008-2009 Great Recession was difficult, nothing could prepare a restaurant owner for what happened during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. [The] biggest reward is watching the teams grow over the past two decades and seeing them develop themselves, get married, buy houses, and have children. It’s incredible to [work with these] professionals and see them grow up.

What, if anything, did you learn at Albers that has helped you in running your business?

I use my accounting degree almost every day to review financial statements and understand at a high level what is happening in our businesses as well as potential expansions or acquisitions. The other is a lifelong love of learning and reading that is part of the Jesuit tradition.

What’s next for the business?

Continued growth with expansion in Boise, Idaho in 2024-25 and another venture in Vancouver, Washington
in 2025. We are also evaluating acquisition opportunities as the economic realities for restaurants come into play in [a projected] 2024 recession.

If you were to recommend one thing from your group of restaurants that newcomers should taste, what would it be?

My favorite is the Frenched Rib Chop, peppercorn style!

Two-sentence advice for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

Prepare to work hard both in the business and on the business. This can be an incredibly rewarding industry, but it eats people alive who don’t think into the future and only focus on running the day-to-day operations.