Innovating at AMC: George Patterson guides leading circuit’s dining initiatives
This month’s Concession Spotlight moves back to the operator side as we introduce you to George Patterson, senior VP of food and beverage at AMC Entertainment Inc. George oversees all of AMC’s food and beverage functions, including concept innovation and menu development.
Our goal with this column is to help you get to know our industry executives, where they come from and how they have developed their careers. When George arrived at AMC in 2010, he was new to the cinema industry, with a background in foodservice in other industries. But he has made his mark very quickly and is well-respected within AMC and among his peers. But before we get to his story at AMC, we need to back up a few years to see how he got there.
George Patterson has 35 years of operation and leadership experience in the foodservice industry with a variety of large restaurant environments. He grew up in Orlando, Florida, and graduated from the University of Florida with a B.A. in history. He soon joined the foodservice industry, working for Burger King through the ’70s and mid-’80s in various positions including operations, franchising, and product development. This gave him a foundation of understanding retail customer service that has served his career well.
George joined PepsiCo in 1989 as the senior director of franchising for KFC, handling the Eastern and Central U.S. He worked for KFC for several years before joining Wendy’s International as the division VP and general manager for the Southeast. After five years with Wendy’s, he joined an investment group and together they founded Cool Mountain Creamery & Café, a fast casual-dining operation. He remained part of that group until 2002, when he returned to the former PepsiCo Restaurant Group, YUM Brands, as the director of multi-brand operations and concept development.
Patterson remained with YUM for eight years and developed his own skill set further into brand management and the application of creative ideas, with trial and error. He also worked with the person he considers a mentor to his career, Chuck Rawley. “In addition to several close family members, Chuck helped me along the way,” Patterson says. “He is the former chief development officer of YUM Brands. He has always been a good listener with a solid business sense and great instincts. We are still in touch on a regular basis and remain good friends.”
George joined AMC in 2010 in his current role and began applying his knowledge to the company. His collective experience in the QSR industry, fast casual dining, and brand management has served him well in his current position. He has taken the best of these operations and applied it to AMC in the form of “fast casual,” a combination of fast food and casual dining. He sees this trend, not just within AMC, as a real game-changer in the foodservice industry.
Patterson observes, “Currently, we are experiencing one of the more significant changes in foodservice. The growth of the fast-casual category has been extraordinary. It’s not a complex formula…a simple, focused menu; high-quality ingredients; good value and service with a reasonable investment and cost structure. Sounds like nirvana, and to many it has been. Both the QSR and casual-dining categories have struggled at the expense of fast-casual operators. We can learn a great deal from their success.”
George is delivering his own success with concepts he has helped support at AMC including AMC dine-in theatre concepts Fork & Screen, Cinema Suites and AMC Red Kitchen, as well as The Marketplace, MacGuffins and The Café. He has a great team around him and strives to bring fresh, creative concepts to AMC’s food and beverage offering.
Where does Patterson see AMC in five years? He responds, “We are heavily focused on the guest and on meeting their needs. We’ll continue to explore options and opportunities that deliver a great guest experience and keep them excited about coming to the movie theatre.”
George sees his job very clearly as delivering an experience that keeps the guest coming back. This is a recurring theme with all of our food and beverage articles, because it is the simple truth. The film starts the ball rolling, but the experience inside the theatre is what supports the business to grow and evolve.
George and his wife Ann have three grown children, Melissa, Kris and Karley. He enjoys golf, sailing, jogging and all things “warm weather.”
So what’s been the best part of his career? “That’s easy,” he responds. “Watching others grow and succeed in their careers with opportunities to take on more responsibility. I enjoy hearing from past associates on how their careers have progressed.”
George Patterson is easy to get to know and very personable. Hopefully, you now know him a little better and can see how he has helped AMC continue its tradition of being an innovator.