Ryan Hibbert: Causing a Riot in Hospitality

by Robyn Moore

Ryan Hibbert knows what it takes to be successful in the hospitality industry. It was in 2010 when the Arizona native co-founded Riot Hospitality Group, a Scottsdale-based hospitality management company dedicated to evolving the typical restaurant landscape into one that provides unique and meaningful experiences. Nearly a decade and 12 venues later, Hibbert and his team continue to find success in a highly competitive market. 

“In the hospitality industry, you have to differentiate yourself by the environments you create and the quality of product you serve,” says Hibbert, CEO of Riot Hospitality Group. “I believe our company is the best at creating an environment, a culture. Riot Hospitality Group creates unique environments that breed incredible cultures around our brands. The quality of the food, service and entertainment is exponentially better than what you get at other places, and that builds brand loyalty. We give locals and tourists alike a place where they feel like they belong, and they love what they are experiencing.” 

In 2013, Hibbert teamed up with country entertainer Dierks Bentley, who grew up in Phoenix, to open the first Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, a country music-based, high-energy restaurant and bar with nightlife and day life experiences. When they created this venue, which debuted in Arizona, this environment was the first of its kind.

Working closely with a celebrity has been an exciting challenge for Riot Hospitality Group. Bentley and his management team are heavily involved in the entertainment and business development of Whiskey Row. With their support, there is a lot more strategy and communication that goes on behind the scenes to make sure everything is authentic and a true representation of Dierks Bentley. “Working and developing the Whiskey Row brand with Dierks Bentley has been incredibly rewarding. Dierks’ ideas are so creative and visionary; his input has molded every part of our business. Watching his daily work ethic and drive has inspired me to reach a level of business execution I never thought possible,” says Hibbert. Bentley’s management team has helped Whiskey Row become a nationwide concept with live music bookings and national media and partnership opportunities. There are now four Whiskey Row locations — three in Arizona and one in Nashville — and two more in development. 

By creating unique environments like Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row for all their five concepts — which include El Hefe, Hand Cut Chophouse, Farm & Craft and their newest concept, Riot House — Riot Hospitality Group has some of the most successful hospitality concepts in the country, with multiple locations throughout Arizona, Illinois, Tennessee and Colorado. 

Hibbert uses a “culture based on creativity” mantra for the design and development of every location, while he backs the company with institutional funding and smart legal platforms so that it is infrastructurally built like a Fortune 500 company. He spent more than a decade working in almost every hospitality position, generating a unique experience for the industry. Pairing that experience with his knowledge of finance and real estate has helped him create these industry-leading concepts.

“Hospitality has always been in my blood. I’m a big believer in managing by doing. I run our hospitality business by developing talent, getting my hands dirty, and hand-selecting people who share my passion,” says Hibbert. 

This style of development took some time for Hibbert and his team to master. Early on, the biggest obstacle to growing the Riot Hospitality Group team was juggling the different types of personalities in the hospitality business. It took time and training. Hibbert believes finding common ground in all relationships is key to growth and success, as well as establishing a company culture that truly values its employees. 

Hibbert strives to have the lowest employee turnover possible so every department in the company is being managed by professionals who truly are the best at their tasks. His philosophy is to give his employees the highest levels of pay, insurance benefits, retirement benefits, work-life balance and job security. As of 2019, Riot Hospitality Group employs more than 800 employees, including many military veterans.  

Heading into 2019, Hibbert and his team are constantly developing new ideas and seeking growth opportunities. Riot Hospitality Group has plans over the next few years to focus strategically on nationwide expansion by identifying markets missing something special in the hospitality industry.  

A Hospitable Concept

  • Riot Hospitality Group started in 2010 and currently has 12 locations comprised of five different concepts in multiple states across the United States.
  • Concepts include Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, El Hefe, Hand Cut Chophouse, Farm & Craft and Riot House.
  • The local company was voted among the Inc. 5000’s Fastest Growing Companies in 2018.
  • Riot Hospitality Group has a strong focus on community involvement. Among the many charities the company supports are Folds of Honor, Heal the Hero and Make a Wish Foundation. CEO and co-founder Ryan Hibbert believes investing in the community and giving back is the most important thing a business persona can do, because community is what brings everyone together. 

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