By Michelle Hirsch
For longtime area residents, the memory of Farrell’s Ice Cream
Parlour evokes sweet memories of good times and good friends.
Dave Burnett, owner of a new gathering place in town, is drawing on his extensive, formational experience as a district manager for Farrell’s to propel Chandler’s HOP Social Tavern into another success story.
Adjacent to Chandler Fashion Center, next to Firebirds, the site is remembered as that of the former Elephant Bar, but the address is the only similarity.
HOP Social is remodeled and redecorated, including the addition of a large outdoor patio and an atmosphere designed to encourage gathering, relaxing and conversation while enjoying up to 52 beers on tap, happy-hour specials from 3 to 6 and 9:30 p.m. to close every day, and a variety of quality, local-sourced, from-scratch recipes on the menu.
“We make everything from scratch. Every sauce, every soup—everything is from scratch,” Burnett said.
He pointed to a career in restaurants that began in the early ’80s, working for an icon of success, Bob Farrell, founder of the popular ice cream parlors that bore his name.
Farrell retired in 1985 and the company was sold to an investment group, leading to a significant change in corporate culture and most locations closing. But not before “Mr. Farrell”, as Burnett respectfully and fondly refers to his mentor, had a profound positive impact on the restaurant industry, employees and customers alike.
For Burnett, that was the point in 2009 when he and his wife, Christie, decided to “risk it all,” draining their 401k, refinancing their house and taking their career experience and faith to open their first, then second, and third successful restaurants in Oregon.
Eight years later, with some entrepreneurial success under their belts, they took another leap of faith to consider where they could grow beyond Oregon.
One of Dave’s good friends owns several area Biscuits Cafes, and he invited the Burnetts to consider Arizona. Fast forward to a year later, after carefully researching possible Arizona locations from West Valley to East Valley, and again harnessing their many years of restaurant management experience, the Burnetts, along with their long-time leadership team, crossed the threshold of planning, design, remodelin and hiring to open the HOP Social Tavern’s doors last November.
Burnett is quick to humbly give credit where he says credit is due — blessings from the Lord, teamwork with his best friend, business partner and wife of 38 years, their top-notch employees (many who’ve traveled from Oregon to relocate here), and all he learned from Farrell.
“I simply paid attention. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Mr. Farrell always taught us, it’s about the guest, the guest, the guest. As I learned from Mr. Farrell, the answer to a customer is always yes,” Burnett added.
Burnett has based his own company philosophy on what he learned working for Farrell, including the same “Give ‘em the Pickle” excellence in customer service tenets found in Farrell’s bestselling business book of the same name.
Burnett adds it’s been rewarding to, as he describes, “Do something for a living that by nature I love doing.”
Interacting with guests is clearly one of his favorite activities at HOP, as he will be found most hours socializing with customers to help ensure their vision in creating a social gathering place where people can meet, hang out, relax and enjoy the experience.
The layout and decor of HOP Social is designed to create a “social, community gathering place,” said Burnett.
From the tufte- leather booth seating intended to offer a relaxing area to “hang out,” to the back wall arrangement of tables that can be assembled together for groups and meetings, to family and small party tables, the place is surrounded by a clean, yet vintage-feel decor that will spark interest and conversation from every angle.
The Burnetts say they will soon join the Chandler Chamber of Commerce business community, and are looking forward to finding more ways to engage with and give back to our local community.
HOP Social Tavern is at 3405 W. Chandler Blvd.