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You know it happens every day in the restaurant business. A friend meets you after he’s just had a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich for lunch and says, “you should open a grilled cheese restaurant!” And then you do. A through-put that worked was a discovery after opening. It's a term used primarily by those in the quick service or fast casual arenas…
 
What is it that makes a restaurant, any restaurant, stand out above the competition? Quite simply, it is making sure you can deliver on your basics…meaning the promises of good food and drinks, a comfortable atmosphere and service that makes the guest feel like they belong. Scott Redler is a co-founder of the Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburger…
 
This is Richard Melman, founder of the Chicago based multi-concept restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises with over 120 restaurants in operation now and several more on the drawing board. The conversation, at times, sounded just like a couple of guys who have not talked in awhile. Each reminiscing about the old days. But there are also …
 
Well…your back in action now aren’t you. Your dining room can be loaded up the way it used to be over a year ago. Your relieved that you made it through with a little help from the government. Your landlord may have worked out a deal to let you pay off un-paid back rent. And it was the good will of the loyal customers who called every night for a p…
 
A 30-minute Skype call is not meant to reveal the true colors or inner soul. If it does have a specific purpose, I would guess it to be a way to make contact and maybe…maybe expose a tiny crack to glimpse the real person sitting at the screen on the other side. If there is one thing to come away with from this brief encounter is that the “less is m…
 
The makers and sellers of your favorite adult beverages approach their relationship with the hospitality venues buying their product in a different way than any other vendor we deal with. We rarely see a representative of the cattle ranch come into the restaurant talking about new trending beef recipes and bringing a cut of beef to put on display. …
 
One advantage to being a serial entrepreneur is that you’re probably going to seize upon the next great idea way before anyone else really knows anything about it because you walk around with your antennae up all the time. Well, that’s how Twin Falls Idaho got 2nd South Market and how Dave Buddecke got his next entrepreneurial challenge. The food h…
 
“Who’s the leader of this madhouse?” I’m not totally convinced this sentiment is exclusive to the restaurant industry…but it’s a phrase spoken often in bars, dining rooms and kitchens all over the country. Ken Mcgarrie was hearing it as well and it drove him to complete a 20 year back of the shelf project that’s become The Surprise Restaurant Manag…
 
Micha Magid knew what was missing in midtown Manhattan barbecue when he launched Mighty Quinn several years ago. The others that had come before ignored their sense of place. Barbecue shouldn’t be a Disney ride built to convince the guest they’re about to experience another time and place. To connect it has to be as real as you can make it. Mighty …
 
A restaurateur is an entrepreneur that has something special and different about them. And as my own informally collected data suggests, the men and women in this category possess a fire somewhere inside fueling their drive to create and build a business that transcends the ordinary wealth making machine. Ike Shehadeh of Ike’s Love & Sandwiches is …
 
Franklin Junction bills itself as a mixture of Airbnb and Match.com — but for restaurants. The platform finds kitchens with extra capacity and matches them with brands that want to expand into new locations. Franklin Junction launched in 2020, but it’s been in development for two years. The industry was under capacity by 15 to 20 percent before COV…
 
Restaurant Recipe Management; Josh Sharkey’s Meez Burning ideas get snuffed out in the miasma of defeat. But it’s also defeat that sometimes raise simple ideas to brilliance. Mis En Place is a kitchen phrase that means “everything in it’s place”. The generation of a digital method to manage recipes for a restaurant is here and there are quite a few…
 
What does it take to let the world know who you are and why you’re here? Existential questions that have plagued mankind forever. Along life’s journey we take the turns that lead us along a path. Some turns are handed to us or even forced upon us while others are all of our own making. To understand this and live a life based on this understanding …
 
There’s a moment in the life of every restaurant owner when he knows that “I can do it better than any other restaurant out there”. If that thought doesn’t exist at the core of your motivation, then you’re in the wrong business. Yiannni Kosmides had that Eureka moment when he couldn’t find the Gyros (YEE-rohs) he knew from his native Greece. Nothin…
 
The dream of hosting a party every night playing the hippest music and pouring the perfect cocktail usually strikes someone after they’ve spent a few years toiling in the hospitality industry. Alexander was no different. His experiences prepared him well to deal with the pressures and restrictions put on a bar owner today in the age of COVID. As a …
 
If I had known your name was Tremayne before the interview, I wouldn’t have hired you because I don’t think a black person can handle the job. What would you do if you were a young cook trying to make a place in the industry you love and then be confronted with yet another not so subtle example of the systemic racism you’ve known all your life. The…
 
Cash is king. A well over used axiom in the restaurant business. And even more so today when thousands of restaurants have limped along through the shutdowns, the re-openings, and even more shutdowns. So, when someone offers you access to cash…you at least listen. Enter Johann Moonesinghe and his company InKind. Johann’s company has created a reaso…
 
It’s a realtors job to keep a finger on the pulse of the real estate market. When they specialize in restaurants, they need to have another finger on the pulse of the restaurant industry as well. Dick Grones is one of those real estate guys. He is the go-to commercial realtor for restauranteurs in the Twin Cities metro. He was frank about how the c…
 
Mike Bausch created Andolini Pizza in Tulsa, Oklahoma on a shoestring. A quite common story in this business. It’s what he did with that shoestring that make his story something special. While he was building his mini empire of five stores and a food truck and winning awards at an international pizza competition, he wrote a book that’s part memoir …
 
Necessity being the mother of invention. There were plenty of reasons for Li-Ran Navon to develop a way to get his dinner order ready for pick-up or delivered to his home from his favorite restaurant with as little hassle as possible. The magic that will sometimes happen while inventive software is being created and take shape, components are added…
 
This is a replay of a recording made in April of 2020. At the time we were less than 60 days into the restrictions and mandates for curbing the Covid pandemic. At the time, everyone thought this would be over by early summer at the latest. Here we are 8 months into it and we've returned to the tight restrictions we experienced early on due to a dra…
 
We’re now mid-November 2020, smack dab in the middle of the second surge we were warned about over the summer. We have unfortunately suffered through the misgivings of government that saw the importance of politics to be greater than the importance of human life. Two drug companies have announced they have proved through trials they each have a vac…
 
As an example of the fluidity of government directives during this period of the pandemic. When this was recorded in early October, Illinois was moving towards allowing restaurants to seat a higher percentage of the dining capacity. The fact that a cold Chicago winter was right around the corner was not lost on the Governor or Mayor. So they were a…
 
The family affair based on the power of plants and giving back to the community. Un·cooked is a concept with an eye to the future and strong roots in the past. Founders Carole, Jeremy, and Kaitlyn Jones have combined their unique journeys, diverse skill sets, passion for our planet, and sense of adventure to create un·cooked where they live their m…
 
The conversations we have with others every day form our view of the world. If all we do is ever talk with people like us, our world becomes or stays small. You start getting the idea that these narrow subjects and solutions are the only way to act and think…whatever that may look like. The MFHA or Multi-Racial Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance …
 
Somehow, as a little girl growing up on the Westside of Chicago, Dominique Leach knew that her future was in food. But when she looked at the best Chefs around, Dominique didn’t see anyone who looked like her. Kitchens have been led and dominated by white men for centuries. Only recently has a small group of Women mostly white and a handful of Afri…
 
The transformation of a well meant life of economics study can change in a heartbeat to a hedonistic debauched existence when exposed to the ways of the restaurant industry. As a teen, Pat Weber was lured into the business with the siren’s song of shiny stainless steel, dangerous exposure to open flames and the chance to use extremely sharp tools. …
 
When the chicken crossed the road…Max Sheets followed it to his latest fast casual restaurant Chicken Max. A unique concept blending fried chicken tenders, on a menu with almond wood smoked chicken and healthy options not usually found in a fried chicken joint. The pandemic brought with it the specter of closed restaurants. But Max and his team wer…
 
An update of the condition the restaurant industry is in on August 13th, 2020. The pandemic is quiet in some states and surging in others. The political process has hijacked the health system so that we have lost control on the right things to do to get back to normal. Wearing a mask is a badge of courage to some and abject slavery to others. Music…
 
When word of the pandemic started to spread around the world in February 2020. It was Northern Italy that became the epicenter of what was then thought of as a bad cold. Then Italians started dying in great numbers and the country shut down completely. People were not allowed out of their homes without written approval and a good reason, In mid Mar…
 
The commanding of a restaurant kitchen requires confidence. And it’s not always a confidence built on what you know. But it’s always built on the confidence that your brigade’s training will give them the ability to express your vision through their work. Whether they’re making edible sea foam or a chocolate shake. Many younger Chefs either forget …
 
I’ve been in and around restaurants and bars most of my life. When entering a full-time restaurant career as a 20 something in the 1970’s I was greeted with a perspective of racial behaviors that are outdated by today’s standards. Over the years I thought I had done a good job keeping up with the changes and at times even got ahead of a few of them…
 
The upheaval the restaurant industry is going through now is no secret or hidden from view. We wear it on our sleeve with protest and the warning of a new normal. The nature of our business is to gather people together. Now we are asked to try to do that without letting too many people encounter each other too closely. We’re also treating our dinin…
 
Unlike just about any other industry, restaurants are truly a sum of its parts. Each part needing to fit flawlessly into the others to create the “thing” that draws guests to it and keeps them connected to it for years and sometimes decades. Jim Smart has learned over the years that when creating a restaurant, a hundred things need to go right and …
 
When the Coronavirus began to spread out of Wuhan China, Italy became the first target. Restaurants were completely closed at first. Then, eventually things loosened to allow takeout and delivery. Two styles of eating that most Italians had rarely experienced. After 2 months the restaurants started come back with restrictions. Restrictions that are…
 
When restaurants begin to make the changes they’ll need to make as the lockdown orders diminish, having a designer’s eye to advise and provide solutions can make the “new normal” look and feel as palatable as it can be…considering. Here are some bullet points of a conversation with designer and architect Adam Meyer, AIA, LEED Accredited Professiona…
 
The Gorton fisherman he’s not. But I whenever we spoke, the image of a gnarled wind-swept chap standing at the helm in a yellow rain slicker kept popping in my head. Aaron Sechler is a supplier of Alaskan salmon and halibut to restaurants and direct to consumers via his version of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that he refers to as a CSF (…
 
Restaurants are permanently closing, the PPP loans aren’t working for everyone. What will save the industry from collapse? As deeply involved as you can get in a subject sometimes, for me that being the hospitality/restaurant industry, it can be pretty easy to lose perspective of how the rest of the world sees the things that you feel are so import…
 
In week 8 of the lockdown the restaurant business around the country is beginning to stir like the giant it is with the thought of open dining rooms right around the corner dancing in their foggy heads. Shaking off the sleepy dreamlike state it was forced to take and testing the shaky ground beneath them. After weeks of making it up as they go alon…
 
Go anywhere today (this being the first week of May 2020) and you are faced with nearly empty streets shuttered shops and restaurants. The smattering of people you do see are broken into two major categories, the defiant without masks and the concerned ones covered not only with a mask, but often in a homemade PPE of sorts. What is less obvious but…
 
Mark Gordon is a Chef. He’s not a famous Chef. And unless you lived, worked and ate in the Bay Area you never heard of him. Besides being a friend of mine, the reason I wanted to talk with him was because he’s indicative of the men and women who make it happen every day. One of the guys who makes sure the best ingredients wind up on your plate in t…
 
I first became aware on Nick Zukin when in early 2011 I was researching the market for Jewish delis. There was a newly born interest in delis happening and I was working with a client in Minneapolis who wanted to jump into the pool. Nick had opened Kenny and Zuke’s in Portland, Oregon about 3 years earlier with partner Ken Gordon. So, over the year…
 
New York BBQ used to be an oxymoron as true as jumbo shrimp. The mere thought of it came across as the cowboy thought of a replacement salsa in the Pace Picante Sauce commercial of the 80’s with his flummoxed declaration of “Made in “New York City?” But over the last fifteen years or so, the discerning palates of New Yorkers has driven creative Che…
 
As of March 17th, 2020 there were over 700,000 restaurants in the United States. Today all of them are either closed for business for the duration, closed completely and not to re-open or working at 1/8 the volume they were 4 weeks ago. Each restaurant or restaurant group has their story of how they approached the mandated shutdown, what it meant t…
 
Restaurants around the country were asked to close to help curb a looming pandemic in mid March 2020. This is the first (I hope) of several podcasts that will begin to address the affect the mandated closing of all restaurants might have on the way we re-open for business and what that new operating business model may look like. I will try to avoid…
 
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