Liberty Station @ Terravita

If you have never been to Liberty Station at Terravita, then you’re certainly missing out on great food and friends.  This week we chat with Paul, the owner of this fine establishment. 

Interview Transcript

– Hey gang, Scott with the Scott Gaertner Group and we are finally back doin’ another Connecting Scottsdale North video. We’re at a really special place today, Liberty Station here in North Scottsdale. If you know about this place, you already know to love it, but if not, come on inside ’cause you’re going to learn a lot. It’s more than you think. Come on in.

– [Scott] Hey, Paul.

– Hey, Scott, how are you?

– I’m good.

– You’re good.

– Meet Paul Keeler, Keeler Hospitality Group. We’re here in Liberty Station, very special place, and Paul’s going to give us kind of a quick overview. I think the world thinks of, a lot of people think of Liberty Station as barbecue, and it is amazing, but it’s a lot more than that. Paul, what’s another couple big three here that people really enjoy.

– Well, people ask me all the time, they say, “well, what do you recommend?” And I always, my response is, “well, what are you in the mood for?” Are you in the mood for steak? Are you in the mood for seafood? Are you in the mood for sandwich? Are you in the mood for salad? Because I think we touch all those bases and we do them well. So, one of the items would be, that we’re really proud of is, we do fish and chips for Boston cod, and people say it’s the best fish and chips they’ve ever had. We want things to be the best. Our burger, we put, we have pulled pork on the Tavern Burger, but we have two different burgers, so the smaller burger and then the burger that’s just loaded up. We do prime rib off the smoker, and that takes prime rib to another level. That’s another realm. Of course, we try to integrate a lot of our barbecue into these items, so even like a grilled cheese sandwich with a tomato bisque, grilled cheese sandwich has burn-ins from the brisket integrated into the sandwich. So, there’s quite a few items to choose from on that menu.

– That should give you an idea, this is not just barbecue. But I would like to touch on the barbecue, because I’ve never seen such a large commitment to barbecue.

– Right.

– Can you give us a quick overview how you do that.

– I would love to.

– You guys on Food Network with smell-o-vision, you got to be lovin’ this. I can’t believe the aromas here. So the rest of you, you’re just going to have to come out. But Paul, give us a sense of this submarine, what is goin’ on here?

– Well, this submarine, I’ll tell you, we got really excited when we found a person that custom made these smokers. This is a 500 gallon smoker, and what I like to say about barbecue, if you’re going to make a commitment to go into barbecue, you better have the right equipment, you better put the best quality product that you can on that equipment, and you better have somebody that knows when to put it on, how to keep the fire goin’, and when to take it off. Okay, so it’s a three-legged stool, and if any one of those stools is missing, you let your imagination run wild on what happens with that stool. Anyway, this 500 gallon smoker cooks it, slow cooks, that’s a big key with us is we slow cook. 250 degrees, 11 to 12 hours for our brisket, there’s a 22 to 24 pound piece of meat, and I’m going to show you a couple of those if you don’t mind. These are prime briskets that we put on there. Very proud of those, I mean these are just about ready to pull off. So, when we take these off, we’re wrapping them, we’re putting ’em in a heat and hold cabinet, which maintains the moisture, and with that, you’re talking about a 16 to 17 hour commitment for the brisket, about the same for the pork shoulder, and then we do ribs for about 6 to 7 hours. We’re using pecan and oak, we start the fire with oak. The key is not a lot of wood, it’s just keeping the wood at a consistent basis from a burning standpoint. There’s, this is the Holy Grail right here, 250 degrees is what we keep it at, and this whole fuselage, the torpedo or the submarine as you called it, stays at 250 degrees. We have one in Madison, Wisconsin at a bigger restaurant, 1000 gallons. I mean, we can, if it doesn’t move, we can put it on that smoker. So, it’s drawn through the stack, there’s a baffle in here and that keeps it at a uniform heat, so that’s really a secret to what we do with barbecue.

– Well, it’s not just a secret, it’s a big commitment. How many places are going to go, get that creative, and then get the staff to make sure it’s done right? So, the right product, cooked properly.

– With the right piece of equipment.

– Yeah, with the right piece equipment, that’s ridiculous, crazy. I can’t imagine buyin’ that.

– I don’t know that you would probably put this in your backyard, Scott, but a lot of people are barbecuing now and you’re hearing about the Traegers and the Green Eggs and the pellet smokers, which is great, I mean, you can do that, but it’s a commitment of time. I know people that get up in the middle of the night to make sure their brisket is going to be alright for the guests that they’re havin’ the next day. That’s the same thing that we have to look at when we’re preparing this food for our guests, because the last thing that we want to have somebody say is, “wow, your brisket was dry,” or, “I didn’t get the flavor I was expecting,” or whatever. And we bring people out here pretty regularly, ’cause we’re proud of this piece of equipment.

– I would be too. And so, that gives you a sense of the commitment to the food. I really think the biggest sales point of Liberty Station is the feeling when you’re here, and the things they’ve done to make you feel comfortable, and really create a community space. We’re outside now, this is, this is the part that grabs me. As you walk up, you can see wide open outdoor seating, and a lot of it, and then the bar is wide open, they open the gates on this thing. This, honestly, this is the kind of place I look for so that I can, when I feel like doin’ somethin’ I want to be inside and out. This is awesome.

– Well you just, I think you hit on two key words. We wanted to bring the outside in, and the inside out, make everything, a lot of times patios are somewhat sequestered or separate from the rest of the operation, and you almost feel like when you’re taken to the patio that you’re not going to be a part of the energy and the atmosphere and the invitation to participate. So, patios have been very popular for us. We have a lot of flexibility as far as the way we set up our tables. Community tables have been very popular, and in a country club type of setting like Terravita, people are already very socially driven, so it’s not unusual for people to meet people for the first time in this environment and make friends. And, once again, our goal is to make people feel like a regular their first visit, and the more people they can get to know, starting with our staff, and one another, the more comfortable they’re going to feel coming in. But you’ll notice we have heaters up here, keep people warm in the winter, and we have these misters, I call ’em “supersonic misters” ’cause they’ve got almost literally a jet engine component in it that blows cold air, and it also, they also blow the water that comes out, but it dissipates before it hits the individual. So, people aren’t getting wet and ruining their hairdos. You wouldn’t ruin your hairdo with them, Scott.

– Yeah, exactly.

– So it’s, and it’s, so, it’s a all year-round type of environment, we get a lot of people that want to sit out here even in the summer when it’s 100-plus degrees because of these misters, it drops it about 10 to 15 degrees.

– And honestly, that’s a big deal, any time of the year. And you know, in the winter months, you know, mornings your freezing, the afternoon it’s hot, the evening it starts to cool down. This really a place that fits that all, and Scottsdale North living, I think, is that. It is that outdoor/indoor feeling. You’re not going to get a lot of rain, so you can take advantage of it. That’s one of the biggest appeals to me with Liberty Station.

– Patios were, are very important to us in all of our restaurants, so that is where we first introduce the guest to who we are, in that social type of environment, so people walking in get a feel right away for the energy of the restaurant.

– Part of that energy of the restaurant, just to mention, we talked about it earlier, I mean, one of the things that I hear about this place is the staff is unbelievable. People are like, “well, they got lucky, they got a great staff.” So I was askin’ Paul, “is that just luck? Doesn’t seem like that could be.” No, that’s actually intentional.

– Very intentional, and we say that the three A’s that we really practice and profess are attitude, attitude, and attitude. You can’t train attitude, so in our interviewing process, we really try to draw out the personality of the employee before we make them a team member, because we can train them in the different aspects of restaurant operations, whether it be tending bar, busing tables, serving, working in the kitchen, but that attitude is so important to us. The best compliment we can get is, “where did you find the people?” So we start with the people, we start with our team members, that transcends into the way we take care of our guests, and then hopefully, if you have the right combination there, you might be profitable.

– Yeah.

– Which is a good thing to do, you know, in a business environment, right?

– I hope that gives you a sense, these guys have their hearts where it should be, on the staff and your experience, and the food and your experience of it. The presentations are amazing. So, do yourself a favor, come try out Liberty Station, or any of Keeler Hospitality Group’s restaurants. These guys have their hearts where it should be. Thank you for takin’ the time.

– Thank you, Scott. Appreciate it.

– Hey, I hope you enjoyed that, thank you for watching. Share it when you can, support Scottsdale North businesses, particularly Liberty Station. I hope you got a good sense of the special place Paul put together here. But, support everybody if you can. Share, like this, do what you can. Let’s get Scottsdale North growin’ again. Thanks for listenin’.

About Scott Gaertner

Scott Gaertner

Scott Gaertner

Since 1984 Scott’s real estate career has always been committed to exceptional results and his business philosophy has always been “If you want extraordinary results, find out what the ordinary do – and then don’t do it!” Consequently his career has been a trail of astonishing successes created from ground-breaking methods.

His first year in real estate selling new homes for a large builder, Scott sold 101 homes and became the first recipient of the Arizona Homebuilders Association’s “Most Net Units Sold Award.” The Association created the award that year because they said nobody had ever heard of that many homes being sold in one year before! Later, due to his continued successes, he became the first recipient of the Homebuilder’s Association’s “Lifetime Achievement Award.”

In the resale home business, Scott continued his innovative trends by opening Scottsdale’s first real estate company devoted solely to representing real estate buyers. This pioneering event in 1990 was long before most had ever heard of the term “buyer’s agency” or considered buyer representation. After years of teaching classes and bringing much needed media exposure to the cause, buyer’s agency has become the accepted standard of practice. That cause complete, Scott moved on to a more traditional role with Keller Williams Northeast Realty. But of course, not in an ordinary way . . .

Shunning the conventional wisdom in resale real estate that says “Specialize in everything!” Scott adopted one small corner of the Scottsdale market to call his own. Using typically unconventional marketing methods and strategies, he became the dominant agent in one zip code of Scottsdale North. Dominant not only in numbers of sales, but in pricing successes for his clients.

By 2018, Scott’s techniques have proven so successful that he is now guaranteeing his results, and expanding his business to a much larger market in the North Valley.