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Give an Ovation: A Podcast For Restaurants
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Give an Ovation: A Podcast For Restaurants

Author: Ovation

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An ad free resource for restaurateurs! Over 100 episodes and a new episode every Monday. Listen in to learn from industry leaders how to grow your restaurant, improve your guest experience, turn your customers from strangers to friends, and to leverage data and marketing tools to increase your revenue.
125 Episodes
Are you ready for an intro? David McDougall has over 40 years of experience in the restaurant industry. With high-level experience at Denny's, Cinnabon, Focus Brands, NexCen Brands, and Back Yard Burgers, he is now the CEO of Your Pie Franchising, a brand with 77 locations and 40 in the works. Get ready for a power-packed 25 minutes!On this episode, David and host Zack Oates discuss: The importance of surrounding yourself with good people and how to keep themCommon operational mistakesTo franchise or not to franchise?The two most important aspects of the guest experience in the digital ageDavid gives Ovations to  Brian Niccol of Chipotle and Paul Brown of Inspire BrandsMoreThanks David! 
Aaron Mortensen is a 10-year CMO veteran, currently serving as the CMO of hungr. A nationwide online ordering and food delivery service, hungr is a favorite among restaurant owners due to their low commissions and free sharing of data with restaurants. Aaron is a thought leader and one of the nicest in the biz, so we hope you enjoy this episode!On this episode, Aaron and host Zack Oates discuss: Why restaurants love hungrDo's and don'ts of online ordering and deliveryExtending hospitality off-premiseAaron gives a shoutout to robotics companies in the industryMoreThanks Aaron!
Josh Kopel is the President of the L.A. chapter of the California Restaurant Association, he's a Michelin-rated restaurateur with over 20 years of experience in the industry, and is the CEO of FLO Hospitality Solutions. On this episode, Josh and host Zack Oates, discuss: Josh's unique story of blending southern and west-coast cultureMost restaurateurs don't know what business they're inHow operational efficiency can increase top-line sales by 15% in two weeksTransactional and experiential tasksHow technology improves hospitalityMoreThanks, Josh!
Aaron Noveshen has created or co-created over 25 restaurant concepts, including San Francisco staples such as Starbird and Pacific Catch. He is also the founder and chairman of The Culinary Edge, a food and beverage innovation agency working with top chains such as Starbucks and McDonalds. What a catch!On this episode, Aaron and host Zack Oates discuss:  Staff and Aaron's hiring tipsThe biggest area that Aaron sees restaurants make mistakes inHumilityOmnichannel The sensation that is Dutch Crunch breadMoreThanks Aaron!
Mehdi Zarhloul is the CEO of Crazy Pita Restaurant Group LLC, and the founder of Crazy Pita, a fresh Mediterranean restaurant with three locations based in Nevada. Mehdi has turned Crazy Pita into a hit through his focus on quality food, and excellent service. Not to mention he's one of the nicest guys in the business!On this episode, Medhi and host, Zack Oates, discuss: The 4 determinants of customer loyaltyConnecting with your communityHow to insert the WOW factor into your guest experienceMoreThanks, Mehdi! 
Lindsey Blackburn is a Solution Specialist at DriveMind Group, which provides businesses with organizational safety solutions including health safety products and services to battle the continued spread of germs, virus, and pathogens. DriveMind's award-winning technology actively cleans air and surfaces, making restaurants a more "healthful" place to be. On this episode, Lindsey and host Zack Oates discuss: Some less-known do's and don'ts for restaurant sanitationWhy there are a lot of reasons to up your cleaning game beyond the corona virusWhy passive air filters are less effective than DriveMind's "Enhanced hydrogen peroxide plasma technology", the coolest sounding phrase ever uttered on Give an OvationMoreThanks Lindsey!
Robbert Jan De Veen is the owner of the De Daltons restaurant in the Netherlands. He is also the owner of the world record for the most expensive burger ever made and sold! From gold leaf to white truffles, we learn all about the history of the Golden Boy Burger and how every restaurateur can deliver a fantastic experience on this episode. On this edition, Robbert and host Zack Oates discuss: How COVID led to the creation of the Golden BoyWhat ingredients make up a $6000 dollar burgerHow Robbert used the Golden Boy to benefit his communityRobbert's thoughts on delivering a memorable guest experienceMoreThanks Robbert!
Spencer Saylor is the Founder of The Wizard of Za, a fabulously successful pizza joint in Columbus, Ohio, that has largely grown through word of mouth and exclusivity (customers are making reservations months in advance!). Perhaps more impressive, The Wizard of Za started during the onset of the COVID pandemic! We were so glad to speak with the man behind the curtain and know you'll enjoy listening.On this episode, Spencer and host Zack Oates discuss: The rise of Wizard of ZaSpencer's tips for social media successCreating a novel guest experienceExpanding the menu while staying true to the brandMoreThanks Spencer!
Eric Bam is the Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Perfect Crust Pizza Liners & Eric has decades of experience in the industry, including over 20 years as a food distributor, and loves restaurant people! Eric brought the BAM to this episode. On this edition, Eric and host, Zack Oates, discuss:  Pushing a vision instead of a productThe future of the restaurant industry - smaller footprints, tighter menus, ghost kitchens, bigger delivery areasThe power of social media and why businesses should be posting 3x per dayMoreThanks Eric!
Noah Glass is a former cashier, delivery driver, and bartender. Oh, and we should probably also mention that he is the Founder & CEO of Olo, a publicly-traded online ordering and delivery platform worth over 3 billion dollars! We were honored to have such a special guest on the show. On this episode, Noah and host Zack Oates discuss: Insights from Noah on founding a company and leading it through to an IPOWhy Noah founded Olo and the role it plays in the industryThe future of the restaurant industry, and the impact of digitalThe importance of service model choice as part of guest experience1 very successful thing Noah has tried latelyMoreThanks, Noah!
Jamie Greer is the Vice President of Operations at the fabulously successful Sticky's Finger Joint based in New York City. With previous experience at Legends Hospitality and Magnolia Bakery, Jamie Greer brings over a decade of experience and insights from one of the most loved brands in NYC to this edition of Give an Ovation. On this episode, Jamie and host Zack Oates discuss: Aspects of Sticky's success such as their guest experience, operations, and menuHow Sticky's has kept a simple menu while maintaining varietyWhy Sticky's switched from long-form surveys to OvationThe importance of listening to customersMoreThanks Jamie!
You've heard of her, now hear from her! Emily Williams Knight, Ed.D., is the President & CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association. With more than 50,000 restaurants employing 1.3M Texans and posting sales of 70B in 2019, in her first year, Knight is at the forefront of leading one of the most important industries through the COVID 19 pandemic.On this episode, Emily and host Zack Oates discuss: How Emily has successfully led restaurants in Texas and across the nation through the pandemic, and how restaurants can use the same communication skills with their guestsMistakes restaurants are making right nowSuccessful things restaurants are doing right nowMoreThanks, Emily!
Joseph Szala is a Principal, Creative, and Strategist at Vigor Restaurant Branding, a restaurant and beverage branding and marketing studio based in Atlanta, Georgia, but servicing the world. Joseph has worked with hundreds of restaurants over his career, and has written a new book distilling all of his knowledge called "The Bullhearted Brand: Building Bullish Restaurant Brands". On this episode, he and host Zack Oates discuss: What drives loyalty among patronsWhy Joseph doesn't use demographics in his marketing planTurning employees into brand championsBuilding a brandHow to pronounce "Porsche"MoreThanks Joseph! 
We were in the presence of royalty on this episode as we were joined by one of the Earl's of Sandwich himself, Robert Earl! Robert has set the bar for restaurateurs, as the man behind Planet Hollywood, MrBeast Burger and other Virtual Dining Concepts, and growing Hard Rock Cafe. On this episode, Robert and host Zack Oates discuss: Robert's advice to restaurants now and in the next few yearsVirtual brands - why Robert recommends them and why they're not going anywhereThe most important aspect of the guest experienceA check list of things successful restaurants are doing right nowMoreThanks Robert!
Geoff Alexander is the President and CEO of Wow Bao, a fast casual Asian concept that has grown from 3 brick-and-mortar locations to over 300 locations including airports, grocery stores, and food trucks, using what Geoff calls "dark kitchens" under his direction. Geoff also has substantial experience as managing partner at Lettuce Entertain you, and has been named one of the most influential restaurant CEOs in the country according to Nation's Restaurant News.  On this episode, Geoff and host Zack Oates discuss: How Wow Bao has grown so fastDark kitchens vs ghost kitchens vs virtual kitchensHow to maintain a brand identity as your company growsWhat keeps the CEO of a large, growing company up at nightMoreThanks Geoff!
Brandon Barton is the CEO of Bite, a digital ordering platform for restaurants. He has worked in multiple start-ups, as a consultant, and has spent time at Patina Restaurant Group and Union Square Hospitality Group. On this episode, Brandon and host Zack Oates discuss: The current and future balances of on and off-premise orderingHow work from home affects restaurantsThe advantages of digital orderingThe importance of person-to-person hospitalityMoreThanks Brandon!
We all know there's a labor shortage right now, but is finding employees really as hard as it seems? Ryan Gromfin,  Owner of The Restaurant Boss, breaks down hiring and other issues on this edition of Give an Ovation: A Podcast For Restaurants! With decades of experience as a chef, food and beverage director, and restaurant coach, Ryan now works with restaurants around the world. On this episode, he and host Zack Oates discuss: Breaking down hiring into easy stepsWhy the restaurant industry isn't as hard as people make it out to beConsistency in the guest experienceGhost kitchensMoreThanks Ryan!
Welcome back Bruce Irving, Owner of Smart Pizza Marketing, to his third episode of Give an Ovation: A Podcast For Restaurants! Bruce is a luminary in the industry with over 350 episodes of his podcast, Smart Pizza Marketing, and was instrumental in helping get Give an Ovation off the ground - of our first ten guests, he was two of them!On this episode, he and host Zack Oates discuss:Should everyone start a podcast?Why less is more when with menus and hiringThe guest experienceTikTokMoreThanks Bruce!
The Famous James Walker, CFE, is the Senior Vice President of Restaurants at Nathan's Famous Inc. - yes, that Nathan's. James has propelled the brand to new heights with off premise technologies, ghost kitchens, and menu innovations that the 100+ year-old brand has greatly appreciated. James also draws on senior experience at Subway, Cinnabon, and Johnny Rockets. We were honored to have such an incredible figure in the restaurant space on this episode!On this edition, James and host Zack Oates discuss: How James has enhanced the rest of Nathan's menu to the level of the hot dogs and friesJames' advice on driving change in a large organizationThe importance of delivering on your brand promisePraise for front-line workersProfessional hot dog eatingMoreThanks James! 
Ken McGarrie is the principal at Korgen Hospitality, a nationwide restaurant consulting firm. He has over two decades of experience at the helm of many successful restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues like Topgolf, and also has an amazing book called The Surprise Restaurant Manager.On this episode, he and host Zack Oates discuss:How Ken trains managers across the country to table touch more effectively Technological systems that can compensate for the labor shortageKen's book MoreThanks Ken!
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