The FORT Podcast: Ray Washburne

Ray Washburne is the owner of the Mi Cocina restaurants, Dallas Highland Park Village, and former President and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

On this episode, Chris and Ray talk about Ray’s career path in real estate and how he developed Highland Park Village in Dallas into nearly $380 million in annual sales. They also talk about Ray starting one of the most popular Tex Mex chains in Texas, his experience working under President Trump, OPIC, and much more. Enjoy!

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(02:27) – Ray’s Background and Career

(04:14) – How did you get started in real estate?

(05:16) – How do you find operating platforms that you want to back?

(06:58) – How do you think about getting a deal done?

(08:05) – How Chris and Ray Met

(08:42) – How Ray Bought Highland Park Village

(11:50) – Developing the Property

(13:11) – How does it work bringing in super-luxury tenants?

(15:10) – What does ‘Retail is Dead’ mean to you? Why is it wrong?

(16:35) – How do the personal shoppers work in your spaces?

(18:51) – What has Park House done for the center?

(20:55) – Why is Dallas winning so much?

(22:21) – Understanding the Consumer From a Property Management Perspective

(26:00) – The Story of Mi Cocina and Where it is Today

(30:40) – Why do brands not travel well?

(32:04) – What’s the long-term vision for the brand?

(33:20) – What was it like owning a restaurant in 2020?

(38:01) – Are there places where you’re now saving money due to COVID?

(40:43) – How important is it for a restaurant to have a signature drink or dish that people can rally behind?

(43:26) – How do restaurants make money?

(44:36) – Is there anything that you’re seeing that anticipates the next roaring 20’s?

(46:53) – Thinking About National Competition

(48:21) – Are most retailers located in major centers to make money or is it for marketing/branding?

(49:12) – What was it like working for President Trump?

(53:19) – Is there a time or interaction with him that you’ll never forget?

(55:31) – Was the division between Trump and top Democrats just for show or was it real?

(56:31) – What is OPIC and why should private business owners be thinking about it?

(59:52) – How do you determine which companies\countries have the entrepreneurs to drive capital?

(1:01:03) – The Chinese Belt & Road initiative

(1:01:48) – What’s the coolest project you worked on?

(1:03:19) – Where is the world growing that we in America aren’t thinking about?

(1:04:54) – How are we going to be competitive against China?

(1:05:35) – What’s interesting to you going forward now that you’re out of government?

(1:07:44) – What’s the pitch of Downtown vs. Uptown Dallas?

(1:08:39) – Do you have a childhood experience that shaped the direction of your life?

(1:09:52) – What’s one thing you believe that a lot of people do not?

(1:11:09) – Can we keep a clean government?

(1:11:33) – What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

(1:12:02) – If you owned the biggest billboard in DFW and you could put anything on it, what would it say?


Episode Summary

The discussion opens up with a comprehensive exploration into the real estate transaction landscape, unraveling the nuances and complexities that characterize the processes of buying and selling properties. Washburne emphasizes the importance of understanding the unique challenges and dynamics of the market, underscoring the significance of strategic planning, diligent market analysis, and prudent decision-making in ensuring that transactions are aligned with both investor objectives and market dynamics. He illuminates the pathways through which investors can navigate through the transactional landscapes, ensuring profitability and sustainability in investments.

As the conversation traverses through the complexities of property development, Washburne sheds light on the multifaceted nature of managing development projects. From conceptualization and planning to execution and management, the dialogue provides insights into the complex pathways of property development. Highlighting the importance of strategic planning, effective management, and adherence to quality and regulatory benchmarks, Washburne provides a guide through the strategies that ensure the successful completion and operationalization of development projects.

Navigating further, the dialogue explores the fast-paced and volatile environment of property flipping and quick sale strategies. Discussing the various aspects from property identification and renovation management to strategic pricing and market analysis, Washburne provides insights into the strategies and approaches that investors can harness to navigate through the dynamic terrains of the flipping market, ensuring that decision-making is strategic, informed, and resonant with market trends and investor objectives.

Transitioning into the realm of rental properties and long-term investment strategies, the discussion explores the myriad facets of managing rental properties. From tenant relationship management to property maintenance and regulatory compliance, Washburne provides a comprehensive perspective into the world of rental property management, sharing insights and strategies that ensure operational excellence, customer satisfaction, and regulatory compliance.

Delving into the financial landscapes of real estate investment, Washburne explores the various facets of financial planning, investment management, and risk mitigation, providing listeners with insights into the strategies and approaches that ensure financial stability and sustained returns in real estate investments. He emphasizes the importance of financial prudence, strategic investment, and effective financial management, providing a roadmap through the financial landscapes of real estate investment.

With a forward-looking lens, the discussion explores the future of the real estate sector, navigating through the evolving trends, challenges, and opportunities that characterize the market. Washburne illuminates the future trajectories of the sector, discussing the impact of technological advancements, changing consumer expectations, and evolving market dynamics, providing a comprehensive overview of the future landscapes of the real estate sector.

In the latter segments of the dialogue, the discussion explores the transformative impact of technology on the real estate sector. Washburne underscores the significance of leveraging technology to enhance operational efficiency, improve customer experiences, and ensure sustained growth and profitability in the sector. He provides insights into the strategies through which technology can be harnessed to navigate through the evolving technological landscapes of the sector.

In the concluding strides of the dialogue, Washburne and Powers encapsulate the overarching themes and insights shared throughout the discussion, providing listeners with a holistic and comprehensive perspective of the real estate sector. From investment strategies and financial management to operational strategies and future trends, the dialogue provides a comprehensive guide through the complex and multifaceted world of real estate investment, development, and management.

The FORT with Chris Powers is produced by Straight Up Podcasts

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