Jan 2011 - Present
Jan 2009 - Present
Vice President and General Manager
Zia Park Casino
One of the top-producing casinos in New Mexico, oversees virtually every aspect of operations at the facility, from casino and racing operations to marketing and human resources.
Jan 2005 - Jan 2006
Louisiana Tech University
Jan 2002 - Jan 2005
Having achieved success in two highly demanding industries, Brent Willits now turns his attention to a third, fast-casual dining, as the owner and operator of VooDoo BBQ & Grill franchise outlets in Austin, Texas. He and his wife Malinda plan to open the first of their five planned locations in May 2012, with their daughter Angela managing the day-to-day restaurant operations. Although Austin is already well-known for the variety of its dining options, including barbecue, Brent Willits is confident the VooDoo franchise will succeed. There are three main reasons, Willits says, that VooDoo BBQ & Grill will succeed in Austin. He characterizes the barbecue dishes themselves as “competition quality.” Texans know barbecue, he acknowledges, but they are not used to VooDoo BBQ. The second reason is the variety of side dishes. Many barbecue franchises have limited side dishes, like green beans, coleslaw and cornbread; VooDoo offers a much wider variety, including sweet potato soufflé, corn pudding, and VooDoo’s own special collards, Gris Gris greens. Finally, Willits points out, VooDoo seems to have made a special effort to break out of the “guys’ place” mold that many barbecue restaurants seem to fit. The restaurants are colorfully decorated and, in addition to traditional barbecue items, offer a number of alternative menu items, including several healthy and diet-conscious choices. Brent Willits learned to work hard as a 17-year-old high school dropout employed as a deckhand on a Mississippi River towboat. He learned to lead from a river pilot who, breaking with tradition, treated all crew members with respect; under Captain “Hoolie’s” command, the towboat became the fleet’s most productive and profitable. Willits himself moved up in the ranks until he himself was a pilot and then a fleet captain, at which point the gaming industry started building riverboat casinos; Willits’ response was to accept command of a riverboat casino and learn the gaming industry. From there it was a relatively short step to managing casino hotels and learning the hospitality industry. Although the lessons he learned on the Mississippi were invaluable, Brent Willits recognizes the value of a formal education, and holds an MA in Organizational Psychology from Louisiana Tech University. He pursues several hobbies and interests, especially flying; he has also been recognized as a Pillar of Society by the United Way for his philanthropic activities.