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Restaurant Possible

Author: Jolt

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We’re Interviewing restaurant leaders discussing thought leadership topics on restaurant operations
45 Episodes
“The franchising model, at its core, is about empowerment. It’s taking folks who aspire to do their own thing and be their own boss but not be on an island. Obviously, at Freddy’s, with only 50 operating groups and 400 restaurants, our franchisees see value in what we do and how we support them along the way. But for me, I think that’s the foundation before you start thinking about all the dollars and cents. It’s the concept of empowering people to be in business for themselves, but not by themselves.” - Chris Dull, President and CEO at Freddy’s
“The basic premise behind ‘They Is We’ is in our everyday lives, we always want to point the finger. ‘Hey, this is my situation because they put me in that situation.’ In the restaurant business, that can often be, ‘Hey, here's what corporate is doing or here's what the brand is doing.’Very early on at Del Taco, we really wanted to establish a much more bottoms-up approach to how we lead and manage the business. The simple phrase is ‘They Is We’. If there is a challenge, obstacle or problem, it’s not something that somebody is doing. It's all of our problem. How do we work together as a leadership and support team with the general managers, with our team members to solve those problems?"- Chad Gretzema, Chief Operating Officer at Del Taco
“A people-before-profit mindset brings in the profit,” shares COO of Mitchell Management, Georgia Hatzidakis. She expounds that when leaders have a give-and-take relationship with their employees, they are more motivated at work.Listen to our latest podcast as Georgia pays tribute to her parents for helping her develop the people skills she has and to the people she works with for fostering a people-first culture in their company.
“Part of the reason I was attracted to the brand was I lived my life by three cardinal rules, and they just happen to align with the same stuff that Joe Whitty believed in.The first one is to have a servant's heart, serve others first. Make others the priority, not yourself.The second one would be to have a warrior's spirit. We need to be nimble. We need to spin on a dime. We need to take advantage of market conditions. We need to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.The third and the last one is love what you do."- Tom Sacco, Chief Happiness Officer and CEO at Happy Joe’s Pizza
“It's tough enough to run a restaurant. We all know most restaurants fail in the first year, and a lot of those are probably independents that are trying to create their niche. Be passionate, have fun, understand there's going to be setbacks.With inflation, cost of commodities, and tight labor, it's hard to look and say, "I'm having a lot of fun,"  but then we bring that food truck out and we see the smiles we get. You can't imagine the little kids who want to come up and just look inside the cab and hear the diesel horn go off. You know what? It's good to have fun. When you're having fun, your crew's having fun, your guests are going to have fun. Guests who have fun and have great food, they come back.” - Pete Pascuzzi, CEO at Mexican Restaurants, Inc.
“Immigration plays such a big part in North American Palates and exposes us to so many different cultures and cuisines. Regardless of which region you're from, there is a unique way to present your cultural offerings in a way that appeals to the masses. Sometimes you're just driving by, you see a new sign and you wonder what that restaurant is, what they're offering. And sometimes, it can be very intimidating to figure out what to order. That being said, I think the beautiful thing about Osmow’s and why we were able to become the largest shawarma franchise in Canada is because we found a really unique way to modernize our cultural offerings, and this is all credit to my Dad.” - Ben Osmow, CEO & Head of Franchising at Osmow’
“Too many things got layered on and the company had really hit the skids in 2008, with the recession, probably moved too far off the brand by that time and went through a bankruptcy process in 2010. The company also owns a frozen pizza manufacturing company, and that had been basically in decline since 2013. The company was getting smaller and smaller and smaller. You literally had to say, "Folks, this line leads to oblivion unless we do something very, very different about it because hope isn't a strategy."The idea of growing our casual dining restaurant base was probably out of the question. Meanwhile, we had this terrific product and the pandemic was fantastic for frozen pizza manufacturing because people, one way or another, are going to find their way to pizza. We had figured out before the pandemic hit, how to get profitable again. We really got our cost and our margin under control. We really got to think through if we're going to create value here. Let's make the incremental improvements on them now that we've got the right people and the right restaurants. Let's really focus our growth not on being a restaurant company or operated restaurants, but new franchise concept and revitalized manufacturing.” - Erik Frederick, CEO at UNO Restaurants
Cultivating a service-oriented culture not just for your customers, but as importantly, for your employees, is a competitive edge a restaurant can have over others shares The Hickory Tavern President & CEO, Paul Baldasaro. With this business culture, they make sure their customers experience the kind of service they ought to give.Discover more insights on cultivating a company culture in our latest episode!
The restaurant industry has been behind the automation trend. And for Jim Balis, CEO of Sizzling Platter, it’s their industry’s time. We will see innovations and technologies applied to our restaurant experiences soon. Learn specific automation application tips from this seasoned restaurateur and hear insights on restaurant technology on our latest episode. Check our latest episode here.
The restaurant industry is in the business of serving people and they come in different forms: from your staff, to the communities up to the customers you serve. Pickleman’s understands that with their tagline, “Whole Lotta Love, One Big Pickle,” — there’s gotta be a touch of love in everything they do. Ken Rice, Chief Operating Officer of Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe, highlights how important it is to translate that love first, from their internal team and the way they treat their staff up to the food banks they partner with. When it comes to their customers, love comes in the form of providing great food and experience.Don't miss out on this insight and more. Listen to our podcast now!
Great customer service stems from an efficient system. From ensuring that everyone in your team is performing at their best to cleaning even the most overlooked places, you have to keep your systems and procedures in check.Gregg Majewski, CEO of Mongolian Concepts, shares his philosophy when it comes to leading a team and how detail-oriented systems give your business an edge.
“Everybody's obsessed with food and everybody's obsessed with diet. My experience has been that it's really about that person's curated way of eating. One of the big pluses to Pokeworks is you can go a lot of different ways with our menu on how you want to eat. At a basic level, Poke is very healthy.If you want to go indulgent, you can go indulgent too. But at a baseline, I think Poke is inherently healthier than maybe some other types of fast-casual foods. And it's very obvious what you're eating. There's no like, what's in that? You see the product. You come into a Pokeworks, your bowl's built in front of you.So you see the product and you know there's no hidden nutritionals behind it that are going to bust your diet. In general, the trends for our kind of mindful consumer, we appeal very strongly to millennials and very much so to Gen Z is clean proteins, managing carbs, a lot of people are into managing carbs, and sort of these omnivorous diets and the pescatarian diet has emerged as sort of the gap between people that don't want to eat meat, but they're not ready to completely give up eating animal protein. That's where we meet a big need out there in the consumer market for those folks that they haven't given up protein, they want to eat healthy, but they want clean protein.” – Steve Heeley, CEO, Pokeworks
"Have you ever walked into a restaurant and everybody turns and looks at you and no one acknowledges you? And then they turn back. You feel like you walked into somebody else's living room that you weren't invited to. And it's all about how you make them feel.”– Mijo Alanis, Owner, Beyond Juicery + Eatery
Choosing which product to offer is one thing. Choosing which product to focus on is another. For Daddy's Chicken Shack founders Pace Web and Chris Georgalas — it’s all about paying attention to that aha! moment, the moment when something strikes you and makes you realize which product to fully offer your customers. After that, bringing together the technology and the promotions will be so much easier.“I never really thought I'd end up in the restaurant industry but I truly love it because of the people involved and because it is just such a resilient industry.There is a lot of change going on in this industry, and there have been a lot of challenges.  I took a bite of Pace's sandwich and thought that there was a real opportunity to try something in this new restaurant paradigm. So that's where we embraced the technology and started to really think about how we could deliver a high-quality product through a multi-channel approach.We were thinking about how to launch Daddy's Chicken Shack. Nobody had ever heard of us! It's a new brand. How are people going to find out about us? We decided to take a chance and put the technology together to try to really meet our customers where we thought they might be at the time, which would be through their smartphones.In late 2018 we created a website that had an order button that was a first-party ordering channel for us. We had kiosks, we were on 11 apps. We had no choice but to optimize the space, optimize the menu and optimize labor with the help of this tech stack that we implemented on a budget. – Pace Webb and Chris Georgalas, CEO & President/Founder, Daddy’s Chicken Shack Holdings, LLCDon't miss out on this insight and more. Listen to our podcast now!
When growing a brand, it’s important to prepare all the ingredients to make the growth a continuing success. For John Dikos, president of Killer Burger, those ingredients include the capital, the plan, the team and talent. While his business has grown, KIller Burger didn’t just magically scale up—it took putting the right elements in place and adding more sunshine and water to continue to grow it.Don't miss out on this insight and more. Listen to our podcast now!
"You've got to have a mindset that you're going to be bringing in real partners. Those who will be spending their capital, blood, and sweat to help create the brand, continue the brand legacy, and hopefully, create opportunities for others to succeed in the business.The organization itself has got to have a mindset that's not just EBITDA-based, but it's also franchise-based, where you're growing the brand with other people and other people's money in a partnership. As part of that mindset, you've got to have the foundation right, and you've got to have the infrastructure set up to be able to do that. That's constantly morphing for us; how better to support our franchise partners and thinking forward now as we have a larger percentage of the restaurants that will be franchised, how we will better support them.We've done a few things that we've moved along on the infrastructure piece. Having that foundation throughout, even how do we make our IT systems more franchise-friendly or make them accessible to our franchisees to ensure they can share our IT and POS system's robust nature, is a big part of it.Of course, operations is always front and foremost for us. The operational management partners that are out there helping us and helping our franchisees be better operators, they all come from within." – John Phillips, Chief Global Business Partnership Officer, The Habit Burger Grill
When it comes to leadership: are you a buffalo or a cow?For Paul Macaluso, president and CEO of Another Broken Egg, being an effective leader means being brave enough to weather the storm and embrace change. As a 30-year veteran, he’s seen all sorts of change that could have made him walk away — from changing company structure to leadership and even going through changes brought about by the pandemic. Instead, he decided to adapt while building meaningful relationships.Don't miss out on this insight and more. Listen to our podcast now!“The buffalo will be on the plains with like cows. When a storm comes in, the buffalo see the storm coming. The cows will turn away from this storm and start running, right, as most animals would. You see a storm and hail and snow, and they try to outrun it. What happens to the cows is they're not fast enough. They get tired. They end up staying in the storm longer because they're running along with the storm. They're taking more damage, and they're getting exhausted.What's interesting about buffalos is when they see a storm coming, they run into the storm, which is super counterintuitive, right. But because they know they're going to get through the storm quicker, they're going to take it. They're willing to run into the storm to get to the other side."– Paul Macaluso, President & CEO, Another Broken Egg Cafe
Mike Mohammed: “We really pride ourselves on authenticity. So authenticity in the food, as Randy said, it started with authentic recipes. But then an authentic vibe with the people and how we interact with our customers and with each other. For us in our culture, we really value creativity. We value progressiveness, and we value having fun.So that's kind of at the core of our culture. And then from there, obviously, we have pillars that drive us. For us, it's unparalleled flavor, elevated vibe and an irresistible edge. And when we're talking about the irresistible edge, it's just fun, it's playful. But we want to create a different vibe when you walk in with the music, with the art, with the entire decor.So it's very authentic to who we are. We're always looking at what we're doing.Randy Wyner: To me, it's just having fun. It's doing it the way you want to do it. Like when you go into our restaurant, you make it how you want it, and that was a big thing. I'm a picky eater, and I want to make it how I like it.”Mike Mohammed: “Be who you are.”Randy Wyner: “Be who you are.”– Randy Wyner, Founder/President, Chronic Tacos Enterprises, Inc. & Mike Mohammed, CEO, Chronic Tacos Enterprises, Inc.
"For me, it's been an extremely exciting transition that has helped educate me on a different part of our business.As I've transitioned into the quick-service world, it's really interesting that what attracted me to Biscuitville was that, yes, we do serve food fast, and we serve a lot of it. But ultimately, we also make real food. We work with as many local suppliers as we can to try to keep our product integrity where it needs to be from just a clean label standpoint, and we try to work with a lot of local businesses as well. We can give a little more money back to the local farmer and the local business owner.Ultimately, as I look at the QSR world in which we live in at Biscuitville, the biggest magical piece, which we're trying to do and we've had some great success doing it, is bringing a little bit more of that elevated, full-service menu experience and product to the QSR world and doing it well and with integrity and being able to stand behind it."– James McCurley, VP of Culinary Operations and Learning Excellence, Biscuitville
"You learn very early there that customers like new things, and you've got to be representing yourself to the guests or your customers constantly. The importance of new flavors, the importance of new items, it's vital to people. I stopped going to some of my favorite restaurants in the world because the menu hadn't changed in two or three years. You're looking at the same menu over time, and it just gets stale.From our standpoint, not just from a culinary perspective, but from a drink standpoint and an environmental standpoint, we always like to be and are trying to find new ways to represent ourselves to the guests, as our guests change and the things around them change.We think it's critical and essential to what we do."– Tom Fricke, CEO, Bar Louie
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