Sarasota native Alex Floethe returned home nine years ago to work with his half-brother Mike Quillen, co-owner of the Gecko’s Group of restaurants. After working in payroll and accounting, Floethe started his own restaurant brand inside the Gecko’s Group, S'macks Burgers & Shakes. When he’s not climbing the corporate ladder, the 33-year-old climbs mountains.
“I’ve always been active,” says Floethe, who backpacks, plays tennis and soccer. But climbing, something he discovered in his early teens, is a passion.
In 2015, Floethe spent more than a year planning to scale Mount Everest before an earthquake caused the climbing route to close for the season. He quickly arranged an alternative climb with a group of friends and family to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. The group did a six-day climb, raising $30,000 for a local orphanage in Tanzania where his sister was doing philanthropic work.
In June, Floethe was one of two members of his climbing group—which included his sister, brother-in-law and niece—who made it to Everest’s base camp after an 18-day climb. A regimen of running, tennis and climbing keeps him fit. Skiing double black diamond slopes in the Aspen Highlands before the Everest ascent allowed him to acclimate to the altitude. Reaching the summit wasn’t a goal on this trip.
“My business partners wanted me to come back in one piece,” he quips, “and the trip up to base camp was plenty challenging.”
Floethe, who manages 30 employees, finds arduous climbing to be restorative. “Climbing offers a reset without the distraction of technology and everyday life,” he says. “Setbacks are part of business, as they are a part of mountain climbing. You try and you fail and you try again until something sticks.”
Floethe is considering opening another S'macks in downtown Sarasota. But he’s already making plans to climb Machu Picchu in Peru. “Sometimes, to do what you love, you have to force yourself to not be busy,” he says.