Interviewed by David & Judy Felix
Date: September 2008
Traveling down North Main Street at the junction of Route 17A & Route 94 in the quaint town of Florida, New York you will notice a very small strip mall and in this strip mall, nestled comfortably between Magical Cleaning & Tailoring and Frank’s Liquors is a truly unique and consummate dining experience called “The Copper Bottom” owned and operated by none other than TRIXTER’s own Mark “Gus” Scott.
Recently, my beautiful wife Judy and I were invited to Mark’s first class dining establishment for a dining experience like no other. Let me first start by saying EVERYONE on the staff, from our incredible waitress Jill to the girl who cleared our dishes and re-filled our bread basket was exemplary. You will not find a more courteous, conscientious or professional staff anywhere and as far as the food itself goes? In a word… exquisite! Mark really made an infallible choice in Celebrity Executive Chef Enrique "Ricky" Romero who’s gifted expertise turns every food dish into a work of art.
Our night out began with what we thought would be a simple house salad but this salad was FAR from simple. The mixed greens and vegetables were so fresh it literally almost tasted like someone had just gone out to the garden and plucked them off the vine… but that wasn’t the best part. In addition to the crumbled mixture of fresh gorgonzola cheese sprinkled across the top of a hearty blue cheese dressing (in my case) or the classic balsamic vinaigrette (in Judy’s), the absolute killer was the frizzled onions! An addition I had never had on a salad before but really made a difference so much that I am actually going to say it was, without a doubt, THE best salad my wife and I have ever had… bar NONE! And this is coming from someone who isn’t a big salad eater to begin with but let me tell ya, if I lived even remotely close, I would be eating this salad every day of the week.
A few minutes after we cleared our salad plates, our entrées arrived. I decided on the grilled Black Angus sirloin steak with mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables. Incredible! The steak was grilled to perfection and just as flavorful and succulent as any steak I could ever remember and the farm-fresh mashed potatoes simply melted in your mouth. As for Judy… after much debate she finally zeroed in on the Sesame Wasabi Encrusted Salmon and Shrimp which she could only describe as utterly delicious and found the fresh vegetable medley of zucchini, squash and broccoli an absolute orgasm of freshness and flavor.
After taking a little time to digest this culinary masterpiece over some fresh brewed coffee, we were finally enticed into a desert of fresh apple crisp which was actually, well… CRISP! I have ordered this out many, many times in the past and have found that, up till now, they could have all been referred to more as “apple soggies” than anything else. But not here at The Copper Bottom! The ripe, warm apples and cinnamon crumble topping ala mode topped with fresh whipped cream was simply a joy to relish and brought my long search for the “perfect” apple crisp to an end once and for all.
You’d think after an evening and dining experience like this it couldn’t get much better! But it did afterwards when Mark himself sat down and joined us for an intimate conversation after playing host to his dozens upon dozens of satisfied diners that evening.
Here’s what he had to say…
Judy Felix: So talk about the Zagat rating… that’s huge!
Mark Scott: I’m very fortunate… we got a lot of attention! Here’s how it works… One thing I did when I bought The Copper Bottom is I bought it AS The Copper Bottom because I saw the opportunity to do a lot more with it. The former owner was the primary chef and Enrique "Ricky" Romero who we have now was his understudy and really bumped it up more than just a few notches. Top notch and every plate that comes out is like a masterpiece. Sweetheart of a guy and I just love him to death but the thing is, it’s one thing to have great food but how is anyone going to know about it if you can’t get it to the table? What I mean is, people can say things like, “Oh you’ve got the best steak in town!” but if you can’t get it to the table on time, then what’s the point in having the best steak, ya know? So there’re several different components in having a successful restaurant and then, once you have something like that, you have to get the word out to something like Zagat to really get attention. So part of what I do is marketing strategy and there’re four ways of creating a successful business and they are; first of all expand your client base. Number two is to increase the frequency in which guests come to your facility, number three is to increase the average expenditure of those individuals when they visit and number four is to increase the efficiency of your operation so that you may service your guests more efficiently which will increase more of the likelihood that you’ll be able to turn a profit at the end of the day… that’s really how it works. So as a restaurant owner, Zagat is a huge part of accomplishing all that and very effective. They didn’t have a Zagat rating before I got here so… that’s what I do.
David Felix: That’s great, congratulations! How long have you owned The Copper Bottom now?
Mark Scott: It’ll be three years in November.
David Felix: Wow, all that in such a short amount of time! So what made you want to get into the restaurant business in the first place?
Mark Scott: Well, I quit the band in January of 1995. I got married, bought a house and for a while, there I was like, “Holy crap! What the Hell am I gonna do?” I mean, I wasn’t a multi-millionaire so for a while there I was like, “Oh my God! What am I really gonna do?” Now my wife was a sales administrator for a leasing corporation. She did Elton John’s plane deal, she leased out all the slot machines to Foxwoods Casino and had some really big leasing deals she was directly involved with as well as big business experience and she taught me how to use computers. So between marketing knowledge and computer savvy, I was able to start as a director of marketing at a family entertainment center in my own hometown. They gave me a shot and started me out at $35,000.00 a year. By year two I was making $90,000.00 and by year three over $120,000.00. They offered me a big back end! They basically said, “Well here’s a crappy little salary, but if you kick butt, we’re gonna give ya commissions and you’ll fly ahead.” So I knocked them in the head and three years later I was tripling… quadrupling what I was making… that was really good and the one thing that job really offered me was the opportunity to carve a niche for myself in the family entertainment market. People ended up knowing who I was and what I was doing for this place because of all its growing popularity. VH1 came down and did a “where are they now” segment on me at that facility so it really helped me a lot and brought a lot of revenue into the place. So I started to get a name in the family entertainment industry. I then went to New Roc City which is a big Las Vegas meets Chuck E. Cheese kinda thing in Westchester and that along with some other freelance things got me some attention by the Dave & Buster’s Corporation. So I accepted a position in the Palisades branch and did very, very well there for about two years. Now here’s one of the things about being “corporate.” When you do well, they expect you to do even better the next time. So I kicked some serious butt there for two years and unfortunately, it was to my detriment because by the third year, I was finding it more difficult to top myself! In order for me to make those numbers, I would have had to literally live in that office and kill myself because if I didn’t, I wasn’t getting paid. And the thing that really sucked about that whole experience was that they had over 44 locations and here I saw other guys doing 6% or 4% over what they were doing the year before and here I was at 12 or 15%. I was very happy and enjoyed the job very much but from a corporate standpoint, I really screwed myself because even if I just maintained that, it wasn’t good enough. Even if gross revenues are higher than that of anyone else in the corporation, if I didn’t over shoot my quota, guess what? Didn’t matter and I wasn’t getting my commission. That’s the game you play when you get involved with corporate. So at that point, I figured if I am going to have to work that hard, I might as well buy my own place. That’s how the whole idea of owning a restaurant came about. I went to a local business broker and said, “So what have you got in the area? I’m looking to possibly purchase a small business.” And he said that he had a toy store or a restaurant. Now at first, I was like, “Well, lets go check out the toy store.” Because I saw what it was like behind the scenes at Dave & Buster’s to run a restaurant. See, aside from the entertainment center, the food drives the frequency at which the patrons come to the establishment. So I knew what it was like to service people with food… it’s a rough gig man, so I didn’t really want to do that. But then afterwards when I first visited this place, I saw it was a manageable establishment. At Dave & Buster’s, it was like 50,000 square feet. Here I’m at just around 3,300 square feet so my capacity is only like a “buck/ buck and a quarter.” So I have no complaints. But don’t get me wrong, I have an incredible staff behind me. I’m able to sit at this table here with you right now and they’re taking care of business. I’m pretty fortunate, they’re a rare commodity and there’s just no way could I do it alone.
Judy Felix: How did you go about putting such and awesome staff together?
Mark Scott: A lot of them were here when I got here and I am just so, so fortunate because they’re all pros. Nobody steps on anybody’s toes, everyone shares in the responsibility and it’s just a very rare situation that I was able to fall into.
David Felix: Ya know, we were just talking about this. One of the great things I have found about your establishment this evening is the fact that your patrons have no problem with substitutions or additions to your menu items. A lot of places won’t even consider that. They have their set menu and set items and that’s it!
Mark Scott: Some “kats” lose sight of what it’s all about. The name of the game is “service.” If you can’t service people properly, then I don’t care how good the damned food is, you’re losing the game!
Judy Felix: It’s sad but a lot of places just don’t do that.
Mark Scott: I personally don’t understand why they don’t do that at so many places. In our operation, I see no reason not to do that as long as it’s reasonable. I mean I’m not gonna substitute a sirloin for a fillet! That’s a different story but if the menu calls for mashed potatoes and you want risotto instead, Bang! There ya go… have a nice day! I don’t see what the problem is. If anything, it’s an opportunity for us to win over a guest and bring them back.
David Felix: So let’s get into TRIXTER. I understand you just got back literally just a few short hours ago from Minnesota. How did that go?
Mark Scott: Fantastic… just awesome! We did a show at the “Myth.” We opened for WARRANT, it was sold out and we video tapes it also and I believe it’s going to be on sale at the http://www.trixterrocks.com/ website. It’s HOT! And I gotta tell ya something… that’s where our agent John Domagall is from. He’s a super-agent for many different rock guys like Bret Michaels, TESLA, SKID ROW… he works with a lot of kats and this guy had his whole crew out there. Real pros and to be associated with him and all that… it’s just awesome! We have some real strong power behind us and we couldn’t be happier.
David Felix: As you know, I first hooked up with you and saw you guys out at ROCKLAHOMA 2008. That was your first gig together in over 13 years. What was that like for you getting out on stage again?
Mark Scott: I’ll be honest with ya, we all always knew in the back of our minds that the possibility of a reunion did exist but to be able to actually put it all together was just like, “Holy Crap!” It was weird, dude… let me tell ya. Steve (Brown) and I did about nine rehearsals ourselves, then we did two with PJ (Farley) and one with the whole band… just one rehearsal all-together and we just ripped it out! Pete (Loran) sounds better than ever and we’re all just playing like MONSTERS! It’s awesome… we’re just having a blast!
David Felix: That really amazes me because one of the things I mentioned in my ROCKLAHOMA review of you guys is how tight you sounded. I even went as far as to say how I thought you guys must have had to put in a ton of rehearsal time but now to find this out only makes your set more amazing…
Mark Scott: Wow… thanks. But yeah, all kidding aside, that’s all it was. You know what the funny part is? Now listen to this… the first song we did was “Line Of Fire” when we got back together. Now we’re playing and we bother get to this one spot in the song and we’re both looking at each other like, “Is that right?” We forgot how the song went! The parts that we knew were great but that was the toughest part… learning the songs again. So we had to get the record out and were like, “Rewind that! What was that again? Oh yeah…. “(Laughs) You don’t play something for thirteen years, you have an idea but you forget when it comes right down to playing it. And even more so for me was endurance… playing at that level again after not playing that much for 13 years. I had to lose weight, I had to buckle down, hire a nutritionist…
Judy Felix: Really? Wow… that’s great, how did you do it?
Mark Scott: Yeah, I lost thirty pounds! I met with a personal trainer, spoke with a dietician, hit the gym and cut down on all the bad foods and the booze!
David Felix: So you really didn’t keep your “chops” up all these years after you left the band in 1995.
Mark Scott: Well, I had a full time job doing the marketing thing so I really didn’t have all that much time to actually play drums anymore. I tried to play from time to time just to keep my “chops” up but you know... it was tough to do. When I use to play, I could just play forever but after lying off of it the way I did, after two or three songs I was like, “Oh My God!” I just couldn’t do it and certainly couldn’t play at that intensity level that I knew I had to. Like I said, that was my biggest challenge. And then there we were playing ROCKLAHOMA in front of what? Thirty-five/ Fifty thousand people and how hot was it that day? (Laughs) That was a HUGE concern but here’s the thing I learned. When I was younger, I felt I was infallible… I was bullet-proof but now here I am at 40! So what I learned was during the verses, you take it back a little bit then during the chorus’, you kick it up a notch! We had done a show with RHINO BUCKET in Wisconsin back in July and the drummer from RHINO BUCKET is Simon Wright from AC/DC. He and I had met a long, long time ago and it was just so great to see him and we were hanging out and got to talking about playing at that high intensity level like he did. AC/DC were doing like an hour and a half/ two hour sets and he was telling me there were two important components in being able to keep it up at that level. One of which is oxygen! If you aren’t getting enough oxygen back there, your muscles tighten up, you can’t relax and you cannot play drums if you’re not relaxed physically. And then there’s the mental preparation and discipline you have to have. So sitting there and talking with him really helped me out a lot and he’s a great drummer, great guy and has become a very dear friend so I’d just like to thank him for that…
David Felix: You guys kinda fell by the wayside… as did a lot of bands in your genre back in the early to mid ‘90’s. Do you ever think about what your life would have been like had that whole “grunge” thing not come in to the spotlight?
Mark Scott: I remember going to the NAMM show in 1993 and we were on our way down. I met up with Dave Abbruzzese who was the drummer for PEARL JAM and we were hanging out and it was kinda weird because there was this transitional period going on. They were on their way up and we were on our way down. We just couldn’t get on MTV or the radio in any way. We went from three hit videos to absolutely nothing. It wasn’t even like it was a gradual thing, we just got cut! We were the product of what happens when the industry wants to fuel a change so it was funny, we were sitting there talking and he knew that just two years earlier, they couldn’t even get arrested on MTV! Now WE couldn’t get arrested on MTV but he was very, very cool… a class act and to be able to just sit down with someone and kinda examine the business like that was a great experience. It was a complete role reversal. He was in my position two years before and I was now in his two years before. So it was funny because although he’s a great player, I just wasn’t the biggest PEARL JAM fan but the fact that we got to sit down and talk about it, I can’t tell you what a wonderful experience it was and, in a way, it kinda made that whole transition a little easier.
David Felix: All you guys were really, really young when you first hit it big and everything just seemed to happen so fast, do you ever feel that maybe you guys were just kinda thrown to the wolves there a little bit?
Mark Scott: You can always say “shoulda, coulda woulda.” Or “I wish this…” or “I wish that” but we take it for what it was. We caught that last wave out of the ‘80’s and we were fortunate to get that. I got no regrets, pal. There was some weirdness and some good lessons to be learned from a marketing standpoint. When we came out, we were trying to portray ourselves as “just” a little bit younger than we actually were. We shaved a couple of years off our bio but here’s the funny thing… if you wanna portray yourself as being that young, you shouldn’t be surprised when like “Tiger Beat” magazine comes along and says, “Lets do a centerfold.” And we’re like, “No, no, no… we wanna be taken seriously!” You can’t play that game. If you want to carve a niche in that realm, then you have to follow the steps that go along with it.
Judy Felix: What were your real ages?
Mark Scott: At the time, we were all in our early 20’s but they wanted to pass us off as younger so we were like, “Ok… what the Hell?” We knew VAN HALEN and a lot of other kats did the same damned thing. They saw it as a viable entity or marketing strategy they thought would work.
David Felix: That actually brings me to my next question. I actually mentioned something in my review regarding how I felt about your first album. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was a great CD, but I just never felt it was able to capture the essence of what this band was about. I had seen you guys before you got signed and after you got signed and the difference between what you sound like live as compared to on the actual release is like night and day. The CD just seems to make you guys lose your “edginess” a bit… how do you feel about that statement?
Mark Scott: I will concur… I agree 100% with what you say. The edginess really was lost and I hate to knock it because a lot of people really love that first album, but I can’t disagree. I think a lot of edginess was lost and even back then, if you saw the difference between the record and our live show it really was like night and day. When we toured with SCORPIONS we were really concerned because there are some heavy-rock fans that go to see a SCORPIONS show. But we came out and kicked their ass… by the end of our set they were out there with their hands up, rockin’ and ready to go! TRIXTER is a hard rock band live and always has been.
Judy Felix: Who decided to give you that smoother, more commercial sound?
Mark Scott: Our producer had a lot to do with it, the record company, of course, offered some direction and I can understand to a degree but at the time we felt that was the way to go. But I’ll be honest with ya, come the second record, I don’t think it was the same way. It may not have had the commercial success but as far as representing the band itself, I think it came off a lot more edgy and was a truer representation of what we were all about. I mean, you put on a song like “Rockin’ Horse” and it’ll kick your ass! THAT is true representation of what we are about.
David Felix: So are there any more plans beyond just the handful of shows you played this summer?
Mark Scott: Oh Hell yeah! Ideally we’d love to play two or three shows a month. We have the “Rockin’ The Waves” cruise coming up in March of 2009 which is gonna be great and other than that, we’d just playin’ it by ear for the time being.
David Felix: Has there been any talk of like an actual TRIXTER tour?
Mark Scott: Well, we all have families now, businesses and things like that so we will not tour on an extended basis… we just can’t. We will do a select number of select appearances and, like I said, maybe two or three times a month. I’m also playing with another guy… an old friend of mine by the name of Bobby Messano who was the guitar player for Steve Winwood for ten years, Lou Gramm, Benny Mardones, Joe Lynn Turner and a bunch of others. He asked me to do some shows with him… I just played with him last week! We opened for THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS down in North Carolina and what a “hoot” that was. He did a blues album last year that was actually nominated for a Grammy! So he’s got some good stuff! He’s got a great voice, he plays guitar like a son-of-a-bitch and he’s just fantastic! So I’m just having a great time all around… no complaints…
David Felix: How about the possibility of some new material?
Mark Scott: There’s always talk! We just put out the “live” CD a couple of months ago which we’re really pushing and there’re two new cuts on that but honestly, we have talked about doing a studio album but right now, it’s too early to tell. We’ll see what happens...
David Felix: So tell me something, when the whole ROCKLAHOMA thing first came about, who is it that got the ball rolling? Who started making the phone calls to get the whole thing together?
Mark Scott: It actually all started about a year prior. We were all getting emails at our individual websites from fans saying, “Hey, why aren’t you guys at ROCKLAHOMA? You should do it!” I didn’t even know what a ROCKLAHOMA was! So we all took a look and saw that maybe there was an audience or market out there for us to play. That was the first wake-up call. Then I would call Pete, Pete would call PJ, PJ would call Steve and so on and so on and so on. Then we all had the “meeting,” so to speak. We all got together and finally came to the conclusion and just said, “Let’s do it!” Then we go our agent and Bret Michaels was actually responsible for that. He had asked us to come out and open for him on his upcoming tour. We had played with POISON back in ’91 and we all got along very, very well and became great friends. So his agent contacted us but we just couldn’t do the whole blown-out tour thing because of all our other responsibilities however, we thought it was a great opportunity for us to get out there and start doing some select appearances. So that’s how it all went down and Bret Michaels’ agent is now our agent as well.
David Felix: Well that’s about it, Mark! Thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with us. We won’t keep you any longer but in conclusion, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans or anything I left out?
Mark Scott: Oh it was my pleasure. Thank you for coming up here and to everyone else out there, thank you for all your love and support. We wouldn’t have even considered all this if it wasn’t for you so thank you… thank you so much and we’re just all having a really great time right now and we hope to get out and see more of you real soon.
What an incredible night out. Thanks again so much to Mark, Jill, Enrique and everyone else at The Copper Bottom who made this all just a perfect experience. Don’t forget to check out trixterrocks.com and pick up your copy of the new “Alive In Japan” CD which is absolutely incredible and guys… if you’re looking to impress that “special someone” in your life, whether it be your wife, your girlfriend, your fiancé or even your “life-partner,” don’t wasteall that time and money on the likes of “Ruth’s Chris,” “Peter Luger’s” or “Arthur’s.” Take a nice, leisurely ride up to beautiful Florida, NY and visit The Copper Bottom, it’s a hidden treasure you won’t soon forget.