2017-09-07 / Business News

John Vorndran

VP of purchasing – Phelan Family Brands/Island Crab

John Vorndran John Vorndran Satisfying customers from the water to the table


NAME: John Vorndran

TITLE AND COMPANY: VP of Purchasing – Phelan Family Brands/Island Crab



NATURE OF BUSINESS: Restaurant Company

HOMETOWN: Mentor, Ohio

What is the most significant change you’ve seen in your industry over the last year?

The demand continues to increase from consumers to eat healthier and support locally grown farmers. We want to be on the forefront of providing healthier options for them especially being in the seafood business. Not only do we stay committed to delivering the freshest seafood locally caught from local waters, we have put a stronger emphasis on utilizing locally grown produce to complement our dishes. From green beans and tomatoes, to corn on the cob and scotch bonnet habaneros, we want to be a locally owned company supporting local farmers.

How are you responding to changes in the local economy?

We are constantly challenged with finding ways to provide fresh seafood. There are so many variables when it comes to the industry like weather, closures of catching certain species and in the case of stone crabs the length of a set season. Because we live in a market that thrives on seafood being on the Gulf of Mexico, the demand is always there. We have brands that have become synonymous for having the freshest seafood. Even more today, when there is that desire for healthier eating options, we want to be able to meet that need as it increases.

What’s your superpower?

It’s not a super power but it’s not for everyone to get up at 2:30 a.m. seven days a week to get our seafood orders in with our partner Island Crab Company. Having this fantastic partnership is truly one of our competitive advantages as we have first crack at the freshest caught seafood that was caught the day before and get it on our trucks and to our restaurants daily. It allows us to stand by our “You Can’t Fake Fresh” marketing cornerstone message.

What will you base your success on for 2018?

Our founder Tony Phelan has a quote that goes, “You can only catch what the Good Lord puts in your trap.” As with every year, we hope that the upcoming stone crab season and the yearly blue crabbing are successful with our crabbers getting great days out on the water to bring in plenty of claws and crabs. We always look at our same store sales as a base for seeing our company growth and we always have the goal of having our same store sales continually better than the year before. I also look forward to our company expanding in the Florida marketplace as we add another Deep Lagoon Seafood restaurant in Lee County in 2018.

How are you using technology to improve your business?

Because we have multiple brands and multiple restaurants, it was a necessity to develop our own propriety software that ensures the appropriate products are used consistently in all recipes and aids in the daily ordering of product. Additionally, utilizing tools like NCR’s mobile APP PULSE, keeps our entire team connected in real time on how the restaurants are performing and what items on the menu are selling better than others. This gives the advantage of modifying menus or specials and integrating fresh caught items almost immediately.

Can you tell us about a new hire that will make a positive impact this coming year?

We continue to invest in strengthening our supply chain. We added another fulltime crabber that will work exclusively for Island Crab Company and the seafood and crab needs of our restaurants at Phelan Family Brands. We have become known as “The Place” to get blue crabs in Southwest Florida and we want to make sure that if there are crabs to be caught, we’ve got boats in the water and crabbers who are committed to pulling them and helping us in our goal of bringing them from the water to the table.

What do you truly love about working here in Lee County/Collier County/Charlotte County?

I get to welcome the sun coming up every day with coffee in hand while I coordinate sending off the best catch from local waters into our restaurants. There is nothing better than seeing customers leave our restaurants after eating blue crabs or stone crabs or hog fish knowing we caught it, delivered it and cooked it. From the water to the table, that is satisfying to make happen and be part of.

Who is a mentor to you within your industry?

There is no question I appreciate all that I have learned in working with Jeff and Denise Haugland from Island Crab Company. Our partnership with them is like no other. They carefully built a company that has managed to not only expand and grow with us at Phelan Family Brands, but keep the same foundation of values and integrity of a family owned company -— the same as we are. It is something you don’t find every day and another reason why we are successful. ¦

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