September 2009

Steve Carb: Proust Interview

Author: Craig Hysell

Steve Carb is a tough guy to get to know. The spearhead of the SERG Restaurant Group and I go back 10 years. Pinning the man into one of those safe little “categories” we all like to put people in has always seemed impossible.

It’s not that Steve is evasive, arrogant or self-involved. In fact, he’s always been on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to the three. So what is it about the restaurant entrepreneur that is so categorically elusive? Well, after breaking it down into its simplest form, it becomes elementary: Steve is an idea man, and an idea man is always thinking. Everything Steve Carb sees, everything he touches, tastes, smells, reads, all gets filed away into a mental compartment to be used at some point later in time. Steve has always got his mental megabytes running at a maximum rpm. His attention span is constantly scattered into fragmented areas of concentration. He isn’t elusive, he’s an artist. An artist carrying a big responsibility.

At the time of this writing, the SERG Restaurant Group owns 10 restaurants (six on Hilton Head Island and one in Bluffton), has almost 600 employees and is extremely focused on harnessing the power of a company that’s “too small to be big and too big to be small.” As Steve turns his attention to cultivating the next progression in the SERG Restaurant Group’s bid for world domination, he remains grounded. “Our biggest challenge right now is making sure that all these people that have come to work for us understand that they have the potential for a career path. It’s more than just a job. If somebody comes to work for me and says, ‘I want to own my own restaurant one day,’ we can make that happen. It’s already happened.”

It becomes readily apparent that however you view Steve Carb—entrepreneur, artist, businessman, whatever—he can’t be compartmentalized into just one little category. Truth be asked, can any of us?

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being happy with yourself and being comfortable in your own skin.

What is your greatest fear? Fear of failure.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I have a short attention span.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Greed. Dishonesty.

What is your greatest extravagance? A new Range Rover.

What is your current state of mind? Feeling good. Ready for a new project.

On what occasion do you lie? When I’m at a restaurant and the waiter asks if everything was fine but I hated it.

What do you dislike most about your appearance? I’d like to get in better shape.

Which living person do you most despise? I don’t have a person, but I despise bugs and mosquitoes.

What do you most value in your friends? Trust. Reliability.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? My family. We’re small but close.

When and where were you happiest? When I can keep it simple!

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Be a better listener. Have more empathy.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Long-lasting partnerships and building the SERG Restaurant Group.

Where would you like to live? I’m happy where I am.

What is your most treasured possession? Photographs reminding me of the past.

What is your favorite occupation? My current one, being a restaurant entrepreneur.

What is your most marked characteristic? I’m ambitious. Goal-oriented.

Who are your favorite writers? Craig Hysell. [Laughs] I read business books and trade magazines so…

Which historical figure do you most identify with? Norman Brinker, founder of Steak & Ale.

What is it that you most dislike? Anchovies.

What is your greatest regret? Not putting enough focus on finding my soul mate.

Which talent would you most like to have? Salsa dancing. And I’d like to be able to sing.

How would you like to die? Quick. While I’m sleeping.

What is your motto? “Nunc est bibendum.” Now or never.

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