If These 5 Things are in Place You MIGHT Have a Restaurant Business

You have a location. You have a menu. You open the doors and guests are coming in and eating at your establishment.

But do you have a business? Don’t answer so fast. There are certain things that must be in place to have a real business.

Not to burst your bubble, but without these 5 things, you actually have more of what would be classified as a hobby. An expensive hobby.

The restaurant industry has a horrendous reputation for being tough and with especially high failure statistics. Perhaps the reason is due to the fact that most don’t run their restaurant like a business? Restaurant success is not a game of luck. It is a business and there are rules that those that find long term success follow.

The good news for you? You just need to follow the rules.

Now, some might cringe at the ideas of following “the rules.” You started your own restaurant because you didn’t want to follow the rules. Rules allow you to instill some discipline in your business. You need discipline to reach high levels of success. You can’t get there without it.

Know Your Numbers

Least we forget that the restaurant business is a business. For that, you must know your financial numbers. This is not a luxury, it is a necessity! There is a fiduciary duty you have as an owner or a leader in a restaurant to protect the brand assets. Those assets are the bottom line. There is an overflow of creative culinary talent in the market, I would wager that only 10% know how to make money with that talent.

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How many top chefs have you heard of lately either going bankrupt or being kicked out of their own company for malicious behavior? And those are the ones that make the headlines. There are countless more that just slowly fade away without being noticed.

Economic responsibility starts and ends with the small business owner in a local community. You make money and spend money within your community. When that cycle breaks down, towns become vacant and are left as remnants of once prosperous so-called boom towns that became ghost towns (think Tombstone, Arizona; Calico, California; Rhyolite, Nevada).

So where to start? How about knowing the exact cost of every item on your menu? You might be shocked that this is a major area that most restaurant operators fail to implement. If you don’t like numbers or you don’t know how to calculate this, then hire someone! You can’t go any longer without getting on top of your numbers. Stop saying you “should” and start saying you “must”.

Know Your Market

If you are going into a market it is far better to disrupt the status quo than to create it. Starbucks didn’t invent the coffee market, they disrupted how we thought about coffee by transforming it from diners to its own cozy shop people would want to spend time at. Chipotle did not invent the burrito, they disrupted the way we order a burrito with the customization model. Chick-fil-A did not invent the chicken sandwich, they disrupted the service associated with getting a chicken sandwich!

Are you trying to create a market or are you disrupting your market? This is where so many go astray. They look at the market and think that Ethiopian BBQ Sushi would be great! There is nothing else like that currently in their area...and there might be a very good reason why.

Creating a market takes a lot of money, marketing, and a brilliant brand positioning strategy to make it work. While you might have one or even two of those three things, you’re going to need all three to make it work. Many a restaurant has gone under thinking that they were going to change the restaurant world with an unproven business model.

Know Your Team

When you look around at your team, what do you see? Friends? Family? Co-workers? Strangers? Professionals? The way you answer that says a lot about you as a leader and is a reflection of your culture.

One thing that the restaurant industry is lacking is real leadership. We have plenty of managers, but a few leaders. My definition is fairly straightforward: a manager manages the shift, while a leader, leads the vision. Managers tend to have a style that can best be described as a firefighter. You’ve surely seen these managers in action. They rush around all day busy putting out fires (problems). In fact, they pride themselves on the number of fires they can put out each shift. The firefighter manager lives to be a problem solver.

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The leader has a totally opposite mindset. Their drive is to empower their team to be solution seekers. When the fire (problem) pops up at the restaurant, they ask the team for solutions. They also talk to their team to understand them on a deeper level than the traditional employee-employer relationship.

If you want to build a successful team around you that can solve complex issues (that will arise in the restaurant industry), you need to know what each team member can and cannot do. If a team member doesn’t like or is not proficient in spreadsheets, why make them in charge of accounting? You have a shy and reserved person yet you put them in front as a host because you think it will help them grow. At what cost? A poor first impression for your guests when they walk in and are greeted with a lack of enthusiasm.

Know Your Strengths

Knowing your team is one side of the equation. The other side is you have to know yourself. Awareness precedes choice and choice precedes change. You must become self-aware of who you are as a person and as a leader. No, that does not mean you need to sit in meditation for 3 hours a day (however 20 minutes is good for you). This is about knowing what you are good at. Knowing what you are okay at. And, knowing what you just suck at.

Trying to develop your weaknesses is a waste of time. You will grow stronger as a team when you focus in on what you are amazing at. Oh, and allow me to digress on the topic of having passion. The gurus out there say if you're passionate about what you do, you’ll be fine. Not exactly. Passion is nice and it amplifies your skills. It won’t replace skills and being damn awesome at what you do. Screw passion, become a badass with your skill sets!

So, what are you so damn great at that people cannot ignore you? That’s your strength right there! Focus on what you excel at and build a team around you for the areas you are not so good at (or perhaps you suck at). When you do have your dream team in place, step back and allow them to do what they do best.

Remember that you hired them for their skills and there is a big difference between training and taming a person. When you train your team, you harness and focus their natural strengths to higher levels. When you tame your team, you suppress those natural strengths and make them less.

Have a Solid Plan

Without a crystal clear plan, you will not get very far in the restaurant world. Sure, you might have some initial success without a plan. Hey, even a broken watch is right twice a day! Long term success requires a long term vision and a plan to get there.

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Shutterstock

Look at it this way: you could drive from Los Angeles to New York City without a map. Chances are without a clear route or even a vague plan, your chances are very slim you’ll get there. Hey, it could happen. So could getting hit by lightning twice in the same day!

Proper planning allows you to make adjustments when you get off track. Think of a plan like having a map. In fact, I use the analogy of a map as having a Massive Action Plan (M.A.P.).

  • What is your plan to develop yourself?

  • What is your plan to develop your team?

  • What is your plan for marketing?

  • What is your plan for growing sales?

  • What is your plan to increase profits?

  • What is your plan for recruiting?

  • What is your plan for improving your systems?

  • What is your plan for improving the guest experience?

  • What is your plan for your menu?

These questions above are a great place to start if you don’t already have a plan in action. The bottom line is that successful restaurants always have a plan. They know precisely where they are and where they want to be (1 year, 3, years, and 5 years) down the road. Once you have a plan in place, you just need to map out your journey with action steps that will take you there.

Want more tips from Donald Burns on how to create a better restaurant? Check out the recent episode of The Barron Report below where Burns breaks down some of the psychological principles that get in your way from building the restaurant and life you truly desire.

Gender Relations & Leadership: Outlook of the Future of the Food & Bev Industry

On this podcast recorded at Fodoable.io in Seattle, our host Yareli Quintana speaks with three leaders in the foodservice and beverage industry who also happen to be women. The conversation begins by each identifying some of the changes they’ve seen happen in their respected industries throughout the years.

First, you’ll hear from Zoi Antonitsas, executive chef of Little Fish, Seattle’s first modern-day craft cannery and restaurant which will be found in the heart of Pike Place Market once it opens. Chef Antonitsas has over 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry and says she’s been fortunate to have worked with incredible men and women up and down the West Coast.

“I’ve never really felt like I’ve ever been discriminated against as far as being a woman, with the exception of a few, I would say, financial question marks…,” says Antonitsas. “There have definitely been a couple of times where I’ve had to fight to get financial compensation for my work, where I know for a fact that some male counterparts have received more money without having to ask.”

Then, you’ll hear from Brenda Lobbato, the Northwest Region Vice President at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. She got into the beverage industry 30 years ago and has been in her current role since 2016, where she manages 26 percent of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates’ revenue totaling to $698M. Lobbato shares with the speakers that she’s recently seeing a lot more women getting into the beverage industry, which, for a long time, has been a “good ol’ boys network.” She’s proud to share that she’s helping spearhead a women’s group within Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

“We have this thing we call Women of  Wine... we call ourselves WOW and so we started this WOW organization from the standpoint of having concerns that affect all employees, but that women are bringing forward,” says Lobbato. “So, if that’s a mentoring program or that’s a skills program, like public speaking or financial acumen, whatever that is… it’s making those topics and resources safe to talk about.”

Throughout the podcast, you’ll also hear from Roz Edison, co-founder of Marination Ma Kai, a food truck turned into brick-and-mortar locations serving up Hawaiian-Korean fusion cuisine across Seattle. Ten years ago, Marination Ma Kai’s food truck was “the first on 10 rolling in the streets of Seattle.” That number has grown tremendously since then and now Edison and her business partner are also established entrepreneurs in the fast casual space.

“Sadly, though, I just came from a 3-day conference from my industry. It’s called the Fast Casual Executive Summit, so about 150 to 300 C-level folks from chains that range from 50 to 800 units. Almost every single panel had 100 percent white, male panelists…,” says Edison. “...I had really hoped I would run into a female CEO or a female director of operations. That, I’m not seeing in the fast-casual side of it.”

The four speakers later dive into topics like employee relations, mentorship, and hopes for the future of the industry as it pertains to women. Stay tuned to hear which direction this interesting conversation took and how each panelist feels about each topic discussed!

Will the Former CEO of Starbucks Run for President in 2020?

The 2016 presidential election proved that Americans are willing to vote for out of the box leaders for president.

Since President Donald Trump was elected, this has inspired multiple successful entrepreneurs who aren't necessarily politicians to consider running for president. Mark Cuban, Chris Rock, and Oprah Winfrey have all said or have been rumored to be contemplating running for office.

Before the 2016 presidential election, there were reports that the CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz was going to run for office. In an op-ed for "The New York Times," he said he would not be running because he still had work to finish with the coffee brand.

However, he didn't say that he wouldn't run in the future. Now that Schultz has stepped down from his CEO role at Starbucks, will he run for president in 2020?

In a recent interview with the "NYT," he said he is focusing on promoting his new book before making the decision to run. But over the weekend, in a "60 Minutes" interview, Schultz said if he does run he will run as a "centrist independent."

"We're living at a most-fragile time, not only the fact that this president is not qualified to be the president, but the fact that both parties are consistently not doing what's necessary on behalf of the American people and are engaged, every single day, in revenge politics," said Schultz to "CBS's" Scott Pelley.

Both members of the Democratic and Republican parties were quick to criticize the former Starbucks executive's statements over the weekend.

"If he enters the race, I will start a Starbucks boycott because I’m not giving a penny that will end up in the election coffers of a guy who will help Trump win," said Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, who also called Schultz' potential run a "vanity project."

Tina Podlodowski, chair of the Washington State Democratic Party, expressed similar sentiments and called his run a stunt that would be "about one person: Howard Schultz."

President Trump also chimed in.

"Howard Schultz doesn’t have the “guts” to run for President! Watched him on @60Minutes last night and I agree with him that he is not the “smartest person.” Besides, America already has that! I only hope that Starbucks is still paying me their rent in Trump Tower!" tweeted Trump Monday morning.

But the more important question is, does this restaurant industry leader have what it takes to run the U.S. government? Starbucks is the fourth biggest fast-food chain in the world, but does this mean Schultz has got the chops to be the head of state and head of government of the United States of America?

Read more about Schultz' potentially throwing his hat into the ring for president in 2020 at "NBC News" now.

We went into the Foodable vault and found this video below from 2015 following Starbucks' failed "Race Together" campaign. This campaign was intended to encourage coffee shop discussions of race between the Starbucks' baristas and customers but was quickly shut down only after a week. Back then, the brand was also experimenting with third-party delivery services. Watch the video below to learn more.

Fast forward to today and Starbucks coffee delivery isn't wildly popular but is available on Postmates in most cities. The delivery charge is $5.99, which basically doubles the cost of one Starbucks beverage. Is this why coffee delivery has yet to take off?

How Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants Continue to Innovate In the Boutique Hotel Space

In this episode of On Foodable, Paul Barron is at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. Barron sits down with George Morrone, Director of Culinary Development for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, to talk about how this boutique hotel chain builds out independent restaurants; what they look for in specialty food, and tips on recruiting employees, among other topics.

“What drew me to the Kimpton hotels was just this whole approach to every detail mattered, you know, from the hotel side to the food and beverage side, which is usually where, in hospitality… that’s where it separates,” said Paul Barron. “If it’s going to break down, it’s going to break down at the restaurant.”

Morrone replied that the reason why Kimpton Hotels places such high importance on the food and beverage side of their business, as well, is because the late Bill Kimpton, boutique hotel developer, had a great passion for both sides of hospitality and instilled this philosophy to his employees early on.

George Morrone, a trained chef who is now focusing on guiding the growth and development of future culinary talent, as well as, the menu for Kimpton’s 70+ restaurants and bars, has turned to hiring from within when it comes to promoting executive chefs for new Kimpton concepts.

“What we’ve looked at and we’ve been successful with it is grooming the number twos and promoting them as we grow as a company and that way they already know our philosophies, financially how we operate,” says Morrone. “So, it’s been a successful formula for us.”

To learn more about what other factors set Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants apart in the hospitality space, check out the video above!

Video Produced by:

Vanessa Rodriguez

Vanessa Rodriguez

Writer & Producer


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10 Food & Beverage Leaders to Watch in 2019

It’s that time of the year again, where everyone reflects on the year before and plans their goals for the next year.

A leader in the food & beverage industry has unique challenges, but a smart leader never stops learning and soaking up insights.

With that in mind, Zenreach recently released a list of thought leaders in food & beverage to follow to stay informed about the latest trends in the foodservice sector.

This list includes our own Paul Barron, Foodable's CEO, executive producer, and editor-in-chief, along with other entrepreneurs in the business.

The Food Critic and Podcast Host Soleil Ho also made Zenreach's list. This 31-year old is making a difference with her podcast Racist Sandwich, which covers social justice issues in the industry. As the Zenreach blog writes Ho exposes industry problems like as "cultural appropriation, male dominance in the kitchen and culinary authenticity." Ho also is the new food critic for the "San Francisco Chronicle."

Although Gary Vaynerchuk doesn't only cover topics pertinent to the restaurant industry, he is a marketing and branding mastermind who lands on Zenreach's list. He helped grow his family's wine company from a $3 million business to a $60 million business in just a few years by incorporating video content with the channel Wine Library TV. This entrepreneur and speaker has interviewed many of the industry's best too, including Jon Taffer and Danny Meyer.

Zenreach also lists restauranteur David Chang and restauranteur and restaurant industry consultant Aaron Allen. Learn more about these thought leaders at the Zenreach blog now.

We also have a few others to add-on to this list.

The CEO: Clare Reichenbach

Clare Reichenbach |   The James Beard Foundation

Clare Reichenbach | The James Beard Foundation

At the beginning of 2018, the coveted James Beard Foundation named Clare Reichenbach its CEO. Even though she has no culinary experience, she has a long career leading organizations. She was the founder of CJJR Consulting, a business network and was the former EVP Strategy and Business Development for BBC Worldwide North America. Her goal at the JBF is to extend "awareness of the foundation and bringing it greater global recognition through programs dealing with education diversity, women’s issues and childhood nutrition," writes "The New York Times."

The Builder: Sam Fox

This restaurateur launched Fox Restaurant Concepts, a group that now has almost 50 restaurants across the U.S., including Zinburger, Wildflower, and Tucson's Blanco. Fox has been a James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurateur 11 times.

The Rule Breaker: Erik Oberholtzer

Foodable has been following Oberholtzer's career for years now. As the co-founder of the fast casual Tender Greens, he has taken a hands-on approach to make the chain a success. Oberholtzer, along with his partners even dug ditches for the chain's first store's plumbing. The chain is backed by Danny Meyer, who even said in 2015 "that I wish I'd thought of it myself." There are now 29 Tender Greens stores in California, New York, and Massachusetts.

The Trailblazer: Ethan Brown

Brown is the CEO of the plant-based company Beyond Meat that has emerged as a leader in this space. Brown spent his childhood on a farm where he developed the mindset to change of the way the world eats meat. Beyond Meat went public at the end of 2019 and the company's products are now available in 11,000 grocery stores across the country.

We recently sat down with Brown to talk about his company and the booming plant-based market. Listen to the recent episode of The Barron Report below.

The Comeback Artist: Brian Niccol

This industry veteran was hired by the struggling chain Chipotle in early 2018 to help the former fast casual darling to recover. Niccol was formerly the CEO and marketing mastermind of the brand Taco Bell. In 2018, Chipotle's store sales gradually climbed and the company's shares spiked 50 percent. Niccol has directed the chain to upgrade its mobile app and in-store technology. He has also made it his mission to "build a culture of accountability," as he said in July. In 2019, Chipotle rolled out new menu items to cater to those on restrictive diets with the Keto Bowl and Whole30 bowl. With Niccol holding the reins, 2019 is expected to be the year Chipotle makes its official comeback.