In the service industry the phrase ‘the customer is always right’ is one many are familiar with. However, owner of the Hot Spot, Reggie Slater, takes this to a whole other level.
“We’re big on what people want,” said Slater of his Cotati restaurant.
Slater and his wife Sheila Young-Slater opened Hot Spot in February 2014 after reading a business plan their daughter Natasha Slater developed while at Sonoma State University. Frustrated with the lack of late-night options, she wrote a business plan for a restaurant with late hours.
“She came home with the business plan and my wife, [who's] quite an accountant, [was] looking at it going these numbers would work with the right overhead,” Slater said.
Young-Slater said they had no idea their daughter’s idea would turn into what they have now. “We took a giant leap of faith and truly tried to avoid setting expectations. I would have never imagined receiving so much support and kindness from the community. It just warms my heart.”
The menu is made up of mostly Young-Slater’s recipes, andfeatures a mix of traditional foods such as meatloaf, soups and salads. It also features new ideas, like toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a ‘pizzawhich’, which consists of pizza ingredients sandwiched between two toasted sourdough slices.
“The toasted banana and Nutella sandwich is definitely one of my weaknesses. The most popular item on the menu is the bacon cheeseburger,” said Young-Slater.
If something is not on the menu, customers can call a few days ahead to ask and Hot Spot will create it for you. Have a food allergy? They’ll try to adjust the recipe. They’re also vegan and vegetarian friendly.
“We try to be accommodating to all dietary situations,” Slater said. “If there’s something you want to eat and we don’t have it, give us a few days and we’ll try to make it, as long as it’s not anything too crazy.”
In addition to being friendly with the customer’s, Hot Spot also aims to be friendly on the wallet.
“We strive to keep our prices low and our portions big. We want people to have the opportunity to go out and enjoy a meal and not break the bank,” said Young-Slater.
Located in the heart of downtown Cotati, Hot Spot issurrounded by bars frequented by Sonoma State students partaking in the 'Cotati crawl', the local bar scene.
On weekends, a large portion of Hot Spot’s customers are Sonoma State students.
“We see quite a few Sonoma State students. The most exciting thing is when we see them return the following year or when they bring their families in to introduce them to us,” said Young-Slater.
“They’ll come wandering over, some stop to eat here, they kind of bee-bop all around. We seem to be the last stop in for a milkshake or a nightcap,” Slater said.
A fan of German beers, Slater keeps a variety on tap. If he does not like it, he does not have it. After a few customers from Paso Robles requested 805 beer, he added that too. Nights when Slater is at the restaurant, he can be found mingling with customers or sitting on the patio.
The Slaters have developed a good relationship with some of the surrounding bars. So much so that they feed some of the local employees.
“We’re here to take care of our locals. Many guys will come over and take their break over here, but then it’ll get crowded so they’ll say ‘hey, can you just bring it over to me?’,” Slater said.
But delivery is not limited to local employees, Hot Spot also delivers to customers at any of the local bars.
“You don’t have to come to us, we’ll come to you,” Slater said.
Slater see’s the restaurant as a quiet place for customers to do whatever they need to do. He has seen people come and meet with their real-estate agents, people come and sit on the patio with their dogs, Pokemon Go players, and some late nights he see’s people come in and wait for their Ubers.
Slater said owning The Hotspot has been a learning experience, but also an enjoyable one.
“In many ways it’s been so fun to interact with the community. We’re a friendly environment and we wouldn’t want to do this anywhere else than Cotati, and our success is based of that,” Slater said.