McDONOUGH — By day, he takes orders for Flo’s Filets and Renegade Sirloins and salads with dressing on the side. By night, he’s a tuxedo-wearing, red-carpet-walking, award-winning film producer. But sometimes he works the night shift at LongHorn, so that intro doesn’t always fit the script.
Indeed, the story of Chuck Powers would make an interesting movie, or perhaps a TV series. Is he really a restaurant server or did he just play one on TV? Both, it would seem.
A resident of McDonough for 24 years, Powers was born in Columbus. Upon high school graduation, he went to Georgia Tech before beginning a 36-year career in aviation with PanAm, Delta and United airlines. He started out at the ticket counter, worked on the ramp, in reservations and then as a flight attendant.
“The only job I didn’t hold was pilot,” he says.
In July of 2013, Powers retired from the airline industry and founded a company, Black Rock Entertainment, that would propel him into the film industry in a big way. In the fall of that year, he also interviewed for a job as a server at the McDonough LongHorn Steakhouse.
His boss at LongHorn, managing partner Charles Fleck says, “In 2013, I was lucky enough to hire Chuck on as a server.”
The feeling is mutual.
“I don’t have to work here,” Powers said during a break in his shift at LongHorn. “It’s not like I need the money. I come here because the management staff is great. My peer group is awesome, and we have a good time. We have a good time making the guests have a good time.”
“He’s that guy people say, ‘I know him from somewhere,’” Fleck says.
Powers said some people do recognize him. For years he worked as a Ford model, and his photos were splashed in advertisements for clothes and underwear in newspapers’ Sunday supplements. And then came his big break — a surprise, really.
His airline job had him based in Washington, D.C., where the actor Michael Damian lived in his building. An actor and recording artist, Damian is best known for his role as Danny Romalotti on the soap opera “The Young and the Restless.” After Damian got the soap opera role, Powers went to visit him on the set and as it happened that day, they were filming a restaurant scene. They were one male short for the scene and were about to call casting when someone pointed to Powers and said, “What about him?” Soon someone was ordering, “Get him in makeup! Get him in wardrobe!”
“I must have done all right,” Powers said. “They called me later and said they had this part ... It all started as a fluke.” And now it has come full circle, he says. His acting career started with a restaurant scene and today LongHorn has become such a part of his life and circle of friends.
When he retired from the airlines and starting his own company, Powers said for a while, he found he had a lot of free time.
“So I wouldn’t be bored, everyone said, ‘You better get a job,’” he recalls. “People scared me. ‘If you don’t work, you’ll die.’ I served when I was in college, so I came in here and talked to Fleck. He was a little reluctant because of my age.”
But Fleck took a chance and now cannot say enough great things about what Powers literally brings to the table as part of LongHorn in McDonough.
“We’re all about quality — our legendary steaks are fresh; never frozen,” Fleck said. “... It’s kind of like that with Chuck — the people part. I like for people to have a great balance and outside influences. With Chuck, it’s been a win-win situation. He complements LongHorn, not only our in-house services, such as selecting the right steak, he actually has the personality end of it ... On top of the quality we do, it’s our people who are the front people of the restaurant. With Chuck, as well as with a lot of people, you’ll see a commitment and personalizing the experience. He’s also friendly and interacts with people.”
“My main thing is when they come in, I want to make sure the guest has a wonderful experience,” Powers added. “I have a lot of repeat customers who will wait for my table. As Fleck said, it’s been a win-win.”
Winning is nothing new for Powers. He recently traveled to Los Angeles, Calif., where his company, Black Rock Entertainment, picked up two prestigious Taste Awards at the 2019 red-carpet event. Black Rock won for Best New Series and Best Reality Series for “The Wise Guy Kitchen” and “Coast to Coast.”
An award-winning director, producer and actor, Powers has won almost two dozen awards for his productions through the years. As an actor, he appeared on stage, screen and in TV productions from 1980 through today. He worked on “The Young and the Restless” from 1980-81. He was in “Star Trek II, Wrath of Khan.” He was also on “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Melrose Place,” “Seventh Heaven” and “Safe Harbor,” a show that ran for about a year. Powers was also on “Love Boat: The Next Wave” and appeared on the Bette Midler show, “Bette.”
He started Black Rock Entertainment after a friend called Powers and asked for his help.
“He was a guy I worked together with at Six Flags in 1978, and he said, ‘Why don’t you do a pilot about me?’” Powers recalls. “He’s kind of a crazy guy. I sent it off to some film festivals and it was winning awards and I said, ‘This doesn’t seem too hard.’ After that, I did another show called ‘SkyGuys,’ a behind-the-scenes look at air shows. It did well at film festivals. Then I ran across Vincent Fiore. He was the Wise Guy Chef. He was trying to develop his TV show. I took him under my wing, and that show went to PBS. We’ve won five Telly Awards with his show and Taste Awards. We also did a travel show with him, ‘Coast to Coast.’ We’ve won awards with him.”
Other awards have included nominations for ‘Northern Lights’ at the 2015 Hollywood Horror Fest and 2015 Story Pros Screenplay Competition. From 2014-2015, Powers served as co-host of the entertainment segment on ‘The Dee Armstrong Show’ for WLTZ NBC in Columbus. Part of what he and Black Rock do is work at the big film awards shows.
“I cover behind-the-scenes at The Academy Awards, the Golden Globes,” he said. “We then syndicate out to smaller markets. We do the interviews and the live shots and send them out to these TV stations.”
Based out of Atlanta, Tampa and Los Angeles, Black Rock works with clients to tell their stories beginning with inception through production and premiering the work. The company’s creative team offers film production; TV and digital media; pitching services; live events and productions; corporate videos; a film training academy; music videos; lighting design; live sound production; video and sound editing; animation and reality TV production. A full-service production company, Black Rock shepherds productions from start to finish.
Some of Black Rock’s productions include “The Wise Guy Kitchen Live Show,” “Operation Firefly,” “Graffiti Star,” “Real Talk,” “Elvis Through the Years,” “Coast to Coast,” “Rock and Roll Furniture Makeover,” “Behind the Mic,” “SkyGuys,” “Northern Lights,” “Landscape Concepts,” “The God Particle—Resurrection” film trailer, “Danny’s Song” and others. Presently, Black Rock Entertainment has two shows in production with plans for a third, and Powers said some of the filming will take place in Henry County this July.
Fleck works with his star server on scheduling, and Powers says he’s never had a problem with scheduling conflicts and that Fleck knows if he ever needs him, he “will do everything in my power to be there.” Despite a busy schedule filming, traveling and winning national awards, Powers insists on making time for the many fans who come to sit at his tables at the LongHorn Steakhouse in McDonough.