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The Smiths to expand the Roundabout brand throughout northern Nevada

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Meet Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Colin and MaryBeth Smith are the power couple behind Reno’s legacy Roundabout brand and Smith and River, the ultra-chic RiverWalk restaurant. 

But that’s just the beginning. Many don’t know that the Smiths also have a hand in other Reno food businesses. 

They operate the Tannenbaum event center on Mount Rose Highway, the Café at Nevada Museum of Art, the concessions at Reno Ice, Franco Bread (which they recently purchased), a 20,000 square-foot facility in Sparks that is the mothership for their catering adventures, the Tesla employee café dubbed Moon Dunes Café, and The Meadows Event Center in Fernley.

And if that’s not enough, their team also serves lunches for Bishop Manogue Catholic High School and Sage Ridge School. Their catering contracts cover many event venues across the community, including Rancharrah Village, the National Automobile Museum, Tahoe Event Center on Kings Beach and South Creek Event Center. Travelers will find their fare in the Escape Lounges at several airports including the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. 

And not to leave one out, they also own and operate Roundabout Party Rental Company.

“There’s a lot of facets to our business,” Colin said.

No kidding.

Colin credits the success of their business endeavors in large part to MaryBeth’s management and business philosophies. Even though Roundabout is technically a small company, she has always run them like a big business, he added, offering things like paid time off and medical benefits to staff that other food service businesses do not. 

“We built it like a company that you could grow old at,” Colin said.

Many businesses preach a family approach to staff, but with Roundabout, the proof is in the longevity. Three of the company’s original employees are still with them 17 years later. “We also have many people who have been here for [a decade or more],” Colin said.

“We’ve got such a great family here, and we preach family, but we live it,” Colin added. Their daughter Beth is the main Roundabout facility’s controller and general manager, and their son is part of the fleet department in charge of upkeep and maintenance.

Executive chef of Smith and River, Christian Flores, and his brother, Alejandro Flores, have also been with the Roundabout team for about 10 years, starting in entry-level positions under Colin.

A lot of businesses that expand tend to do so too fast, MaryBeth said. She added that the secret to their success is the details. 

“We’re really an organized team,” she said. “We’re good at saving and staying within our means.”

While many opportunities come their way, believe it or not, the duo only take on what financially makes sense for their brand. They won’t take every excellent opportunity because they don’t want to stretch themselves too thin in the process. 

Mary Beth adheres to the idea that the cost of employees and goods should not exceed 60% of revenue. The goal at Roundabout is to keep that number between 55% and 58%.

Right now, the focus is on the newly acquired Franco Bread, known for sourdough loaves found in stores across the region. MaryBeth and Colin said they won’t be taking on anything new until that arm of the business is up and running as smoothly as the rest.

While cost is essential, MaryBeth adds you’ll never see them skimping on quality, including service. Waitstaff and ingredients have to meet a certain standard. Mary Beth said it is both the quality of service and quality of food that keep people coming back. “We do it pretty flawlessly,” she admitted.

Two other aspects of Roundabout are that their businesses are evenly spread geographically across northern Nevada and even neighborhoods within Reno. And, if you’re paying attention, they often share or trade contracts and spaces with Mark Estee’s Local Food Group. Colin and Estee are long-time friends, and they often get their hands into the same pots, but never at the same time. Those aren’t coincidences; they come out of friendship, not competition. 

The last piece of the puzzle likely comes down to Colin and MaryBeth’s diverse backgrounds. The two met when she hired him as a chef, and they opened their Roundabout Deli in Somersett before the market downturn. It closed when the neighborhood underwent tough times coming out of the 2007 recession.

After the closure of the deli, the couple pivoted into full-time catering. 

“That was really the key to starting the company off on … a rocket ship course,” MaryBeth said.

During the first year in business, MaryBeth and Colin made $400,000 catering. Colin didn’t draw a salary, allowing them to fold all their profits into the company. He didn’t take a salary for seven years, instead letting Mary Beth’s full-time job fund the family.

They estimate they’ll bring in $20 million across all their brands this year.

MaryBeth brought on Colin for his skills in the kitchen. He was previously a partner at Hardy House and owned Coco Pazzo, which rebranded under new ownership as Zozo’s Ristorante. Before that, he was part of several restaurants in San Francisco and surrounding cities near where he grew up.

Mary Beth balanced her full-time job at a medical company with starting the Roundabout brand (named by their youngest daughter for the many roundabouts in the Somersett neighborhood).  She runs the business and financial side of their ventures.

“We both bring a certain element to the table, and together we make a strong whole,” Mary Beth said. 

More than anything, Colin and MaryBeth said they practice what they preach, including the importance of community to their brand. Both are big supporters of the Boys & Girls Club, where Colin serves on the board of directors as the second vice chair and oversees the annual Cioppino Feed.

“Success is part of how you treat your people and giving back to the community,” Colin said. “Success really leads from the front.”

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Visit: https://roundaboutcatering.com/

Nora Tarte
Nora Tarte
Nora Heston Tarte is a long-time Reno resident living on the southside of town. In addition to food, her hobbies include wine, hiking, yoga and travel. She is also the managing editor of a regional, lifestyle publication and freelances for other publications most frequently in the travel space. Nora received her bachelor's in Journalism from California State University, Sacramento before graduating from University of Nebraska, Lincoln with a master’s in Professional Journalism. You can follow her travel adventures, and local exploits, on her Instagram account @wanderlust_n_wine.

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