Hieronymus Brings Restaurant Accounting to the Table

Coastal Hospitality began with a day of frustration… and a restaurant accountant frustrated at the juggle of reports between franchisees and franchisor. Streamlined? Efficient? Effective? None of the above. She knew there had to be a smarter way to manage reports and financials that let restaurant owners do what they do best – ensuring customers have a fantastic experience.

The restaurant accounting company that launched in 2001 as ASG is now known as Coastal Hospitality Services. Ward Hieronymus left a career in banking to buy the company in 2018 and expand its offerings to not just restaurants but small businesses with the same unique needs.  The focus is cost effective, cloud-based, user-friendly foundations that let owners run the restaurant, not the books.

“My years as a lender in community banking were incredibly rewarding, “said Ward.  “Building relationships whether a $500 or $3 million loan gave me a sense of purpose in solving problems or helping someone pursue their dreams. You get to know someone well.  We develop real friendships with our restaurant clients as well.”

CHS is a Platinum Partner with Restaurant 365:  the restaurant -specific software system fully integrated with POS systems, payroll providers, food & beverage vendors, and banks. Financial reports can be accessed as often and with as much detail as needed. Clients can quickly visualize the financial health of multi-unit restaurants so franchisees can focus on improving operations, and franchisors have side by side analytics per location to help each improve its bottom line.

“One of my favorite stories is a client that was paying far too much in shipping for a certain supply.  We happened to have another client using the same shipping method…but paying far less. We helped negotiate a much better contract based on that insight and leverage.”

With a broad range of clients across the country over the last 20 years, Coastal’s hallmark is the experience to share when it comes to vendors, typical expenses, or troubleshooting in a variety of sectors.  That insight has been invaluable during the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry.  Ward and team navigated clients successfully through the Payroll Protection Program, CARES Act, SBA loans and more on a state and federal level.

“We work with an amazing variety of clients – from a rockstar cupcake entrepreneur in New York City, to franchise owners with a pub expanding in the Southeast, to a Mexican Cantina chain in Oklahoma.  Throughout the country and in all size operations, many of the frustrations are the same.  It’s a joy to dive into their challenges and simplify life. None of these folks went to culinary school or dreamed of a restaurant to get sidetracked by bookkeeping. We get them back to the kitchen and the front of the house doing what they love.” 

Regan Collins Passes Key Portion of CPA Exam

Congratulations to Regan Collins for passing the most difficult segment of the CPA exam this spring. The Financial Account and Reporting (FAR) exam is considered the most content-heavy and challenging, covering a broad range of financial reporting and frameworks.  Regan put the remainder of his exams on pause for tax season but will sit for the Audit exam in July.

“Becoming a CPA is a huge undertaking, and fewer than half actually pass the exam” said firm CEO Mark Hieronymus. “In contrast to a standard accountant with an accounting degree, our CPA’s can prepare and sign off on audited financial statements, and work directly with the IRS on behalf of our individual and business clients.  There’s a reason this is one of the most in-demand fields in the country. Regan passed on his first try – which is also rare – and we’re enormously proud he’s well on his way to this achievement.” 

Regan is a McGill-Toolen graduate who achieved his Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Alabama. He earned a Master’s in Business Administration at the University of South Alabama before joining the Hieronymus team. When not immersed in numbers, you’ll find him fishing, hunting, or enjoying time on the golf course.

“One of my favorite stories is a client that was paying far too much in shipping for a certain supply.  We happened to have another client using the same shipping method…but paying far less. We helped negotiate a much better contract based on that insight and leverage.”

Hieronymus Celebrates Milestone

When Mark Hieronymus walked in a client’s door to talk taxes in the early days of his career, it often meant hauling a 75-pound 10-key Remington adding machine. Tax returns were calculated dutifully by hand even in the early 1980’s – with client information mailed to Atlanta for processing by something called a “computer. “ “It’s crazy to imagine, but answering a tax law question sometimes meant poring through industry newsletters for hours,” recalls Mark. “Accounting today has moved to the cloud and we can answer just about anything in a matter of seconds,” he says. Today, the Hieronymus accountants answering those questions include a fresh generation with the same patient attention to detail.

In January, Forrest Hieronymus completed and passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountants exam. The milestone didn’t just cap his accounting studies at the University of Alabama, but brought the fourth member of the family into the company with one of the most respected names in the business. And a unique niche in Alabama’s accounting industry: Hieronymus is the only active three-generation firm in the state.

The roots for Hieronymus CPAs began in 1987 with George Hieronymus opening his own practice in Mobile after more than 25 years as a staff accountant and then partner with a large area firm. Maintaining a focus on income, estate and gift taxes, George A. Hieronymus & Co. would build tremendous client relationships that last to this day. “We have some clients who’ve worked with Dad since the early 1970’s,” offers Mark. “And he’s the one they want to see when they come in the door. If that’s a day he’s not in, they’ll ask when they might catch him. It’s such an inspiration in the power of a relationship and trust – and a lesson he’s passed down to all of us.”

Mark joined his father in business after earning his Masters of Tax Accounting at the University of Alabama. In 1999, George A. Hieronymus & Co. would merge with another Mobile accounting firm – forming Hieronymus, Gaillard & Jones, LLC. The new firm would grow further eight years later with a partnership that became the largest accounting firm in the Mobile Bay area: Wilkins Miller Hieronymus, LLC.

With his sons pursuing their own accounting careers, Mark and his father decided to return to their own practice in 2014 and even re-opened their original office in midtown Mobile.

Hieronymus CPAs, LLC now includes Brooks and Forrest – both with a Masters in Tax Accounting from UA. The firm’s staff and capabilities continue to expand from tax planning to bookkeeping, wealth transfer, strategic transactions and more.

“When I was packing up for college, one of my father’s partners brought me a Journal of Accountancy with a big Burroughs adding machine imposed over a person’s face,” remembers Mark. “That wasn’t an image that inspired me much. But Dad convinced me whether or not I ever went into public practice, accounting was an area I should know and understand. I’m grateful for that encouragement and it’s something I’ve shared with my own sons.”

Another value that drives the Hieronymus approach to business: never assume an issue can’t be resolved. Listening to clients, thinking through issues and solving problems is the day to day conversation among grandfather, father and sons. Along with shared tales of the latest fishing trip or weekend on the river where the family grew up.

Today, the old adding machine sits on a shelf not far from a flat screen monitor ready for teleconference, sharefile upload or lightning-fast research. Financial problem solving today may no longer include a keystroke, but will always maintain the commitment to relationship that is the Hieronymus hallmark.