Michael Hargis is the owner behind Sacramento restaurants including Beast+Bounty, LōwBrau Bierhalle and Holy Spirits. (Photo by Wes Davis)

The Way We Work: Michael Hargis

A glimpse into the daily life of restaurateur and entrepreneur Michael Hargis

Back Article Aug 10, 2023 By Jeff Wilser

This story is part of our August 2023 print issue. To subscribe, click here.

Michael Hargis has always been entrepreneurial; as a fifth-grader he sold condoms to the upperclassmen. He would later produce parties, raves and music events like Sacramento’s 2012 Electronic Dance Festival. 

Then came food. Sacramento has evolved into a food and culture destination, and Hargis is one of the reasons why. In 2012 he launched LōwBrau Bierhalle; in 2013 he opened Block Butcher Bar (which later morphed into Holy Spirits, a boutique bottle shop and cocktail bar); then Milk Money, an ice cream and donut shop; and the restaurant Beast+Bounty. Along the way he continued to produce concerts, music festivals and block parties like the long-running This 916. 

The empire continues to grow. In September, he’ll open Slow+Low, a new barbecue joint in Elk Grove, where he’s personally acting as the general contractor. 

It’s a lot. His secret for taming the chaos?

“Surprisingly, the weeks are pretty regimented,” says Hargis. His secret sauce in a single word: routine.

6:30AM – Wakes up without an alarm. Hargis used to get up at 4:30 am, but he has worked to shorten and streamline the day. Grabs his phone. Immediately checks his “manager notes” that recap any incidents from his restaurants — such as broken equipment, plumbing problems, unruly guests. 

7:30AM – Makes himself a celery juice and a bowl of oatmeal. Takes vitamins. Drinks green tea. Then soaks in a “magnesium bath” by filling the tub with magnesium flakes. “I’ve found that with anxiety, our bodies are naturally depleted of magnesium, so I’m always over-saturating with magnesium.” 

8:00AM – Takes a walk around McKinley Park.

8:30AM – Light workout with kettlebells. Then breathing exercises. Then meditation. Takes a cold shower.  Hargis performs this ritual every morning as a counterweight to the restaurant industry’s chaos. “There are so many uncontrollables in both facets of my business life, so this is one thing that I can control and makes me feel more grounded.”

10:00AM – Heads from his home in East Sacramento to a manager meeting at Holy Spirits, where he’ll hold a series of sessions to review all the restaurants. (He used to jump from location to location, but now finds it more efficient to do it all in one place.)

12:00PM – Eats a Lōwbrau Caesar salad with kale, no croutons, light cheese, double chicken. “I eat the same freaking salad every day.”

2:00PM - Heads to Elk Grove to check in on preparations for his newest venue, Slow+Low. Supervises the delivery of a shipment of chairs and tools. 

3:00PM – Swings by Beast+Bounty to check in with the manager, covering a checklist such as menu items, costs, new cocktails and staffing. He also visually inspects the venue. “I’m a real stickler for cleanliness and details. I’m going to start out with the things I can see right away.” 

5:00PM – Returns to his home office, which is really the only office he uses for desk work. (The small back offices at the restaurants are too hectic.) Knocks out emails for the event side of the business, where he’s planning new 916 block parties. “You would die if you saw my inbox. A thousand emails from agents and managers.” 

7:00PM – Heads to dinner with his wife, Caree Hargis. “We eat out a lot. We order in way too much. We cook the least,” he says with a laugh. Sometimes they dine at one of his restaurants — it’s useful to mingle with guests — but often they’ll go somewhere low-key to enjoy a quiet meal alone. And wherever he goes, whether he likes it or not, he’s gathering new culinary data. “That’s the blessing and the curse of the industry. We can’t go anywhere without somewhat dissecting our experience.” 

9:00PM – Occasionally he’ll pop by one of his venues to make an appearance, but he knows this is a double-edged sword. “I love to jump in and do things like bus tables and pour water,” he says, but “sometimes when the boss is around, it makes people nervous.”

9:30PM – Winds down with Caree, occasionally with a book (such as Rick Rubin’s “The Creative Act”), or TV like “Suits” or the restaurant dramedy “The Bear,” which he says is almost painful-to-watch accurate. Some nights he’ll draw in his sketchbook, whether just for fun or laying out flyers for upcoming music events. 

11:00PM – Heads to bed.  

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