Naf Naf Grill CEO, Paul Damico's Biggest Advice: Get to Know Your Leadership Team Personally

“I was bit by the entrepreneurial bug and decided to start a restaurant company in Southern California...grew that through about 100 restaurants,” says CEO of Naf Naf Grill, Paul Damico.

Damico started his career in the restaurant industry working in his dad’s catering business for four years. He then attended Johnson & Wales University where he earned degrees in Culinary Arts and Hotel Restaurant Management.

Over the past 13 years, Damico has had an extensive background in leadership positions for companies such as Host Marriott Corporation, SSP America, Moe’s Southwest Grill and six FOCUS Brands, including Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Carvel Ice Cream and Cinnabon World Famous Cinnamon Rolls.

His biggest advice for someone leading a company is to foster relationships with the leadership team, which he says is something that is often missed and difficult to do when you have a large team.

“You really have to get to know your leadership team that you are responsible for at a very granular level," says Damico. "You’ve gotta get to know them and their families personally, so you can help them and help guide them through their career.”

Damico speaks passionately on this topic. When he was President of Moe’s, Damico was featured on an episode of the CBS TV series, “Undercover Boss” where he went undercover to work in the restaurants and helped changed the lives of five Moe’s employees. 

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Social Restaurant Visits Jump Over 5 Million: What Does That Mean for the Industry?

On this episode of “On Foodable Weekly,” host Paul Barron highlights the restaurants that have grown the most in the past month and what that means for the industry as a whole. We will also look at Del Taco’s brand performance and its biggest competitor: Moe’s Southwest Grill.

According to Foodable Labs, the restaurant industry continues to show an increase in growth. This growth is illustrated through the analysis of real-time data signaling a brand’s visibility across social media platforms. One of the big indicators of restaurant industry health is SRV or Social Restaurant Visits. A social restaurant visit is an action a consumer takes, whether it is a mention, photo share, or “check in” on a social media platform, referencing a restaurant’s location either in a post or within the post’s geo-metadata.

“If volume on conversation is up, that gives us a indicator that potentially we could be seeing either sales shifts or traffic in restaurants moving up or down,” Paul Barron said.

Foodable Labs has added another measurement known as Facebook and Twitter Combined Industry Visibility. Are people talking about going out to eat and are they engaging with top brands? Currently, the total industry visibility month-over-month was somewhat flat, with a slight increase in interactions, unique users, and units identified in the month of October over September.

Looking back at June 2016, the industry experienced the lowest number of interactions of the year to date, with numbers of interactions at 54 million and the number of unique users at 31 million. Contrarily, October showed continuous growth, although slow, in the industry with interaction figures reaching 71 million and unique users reaching over 42 million.

Growth Within the Industry

Restaurants showing notable SRV growth in October over September 2016, include:

  1. Tender Greens jumps to the No. 1 spot with an 8.82 percent SRV growth.
  2. Chick-Fil-A steals the No. 2 spot this month with a 5.11 percent SRV growth after not making the Top 10 list back in September.
  3. Arby’s has been consistent in its ranking month over month, staying at the No. 3 spot since August. Its SRV is currently at 4.92 percent.
  4. Shake Shack, which has been on the list before, is now at the No. 4 spot with a 4.87 percent SRV growth.
  5. Freshii drops from the No. 1 spot to No. 5 with just a 4.82 percent. SRV growth month over month
  6. &pizza is a new entry in the Top 10 list, coming in at the No. 9 spot with a 4.27 percent SRV growth.

An important takeaway from this data is total SRVs for the industry jumped up in August, September, and again in October by over 5 million.

Top Performers

Two brands that prove our case are top performers Del Taco and Moe’s.

Here’s what Foodable Labs found:

Del Taco

  • Same store sales growth for 12 quarters
  • New market and new menu item penetration
  • 68.48 percent increase in overall Foodable Labs score

Moe's Southwest Grill 

  • 36.4 percent of Chipotle guest crossovers
  • Overall higher engagement than Chipotle
  • 50.87 percent increase in overall Foodable Labs score

Watch the full episode to learn more!

Moe’s Southwest Grill Launches Foodscapes with Augmented Reality Aspect

Moe’s Southwest Grill Launches Foodscapes with Augmented Reality Aspect

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

The “fresh mex” fast casual Moe’s Southwest Grill is giving their customers a new way to interact with their food. The brand has unveiled new restaurant artwork featuring foodscapes of Moe’s ingredients by the artist Carl Warner.

You may have seen these images before. The landscapes made up of Moe’s food have been featured in commercials within the last two years, but the pieces of art will be displayed in more than 650 store locations by the end of the year.

The name Moe stands for Musicians, Outlaws and Entertainers and the restaurant is paying homage to that with a new augmented reality (AR) aspect called “Foodstock.”

This salute to Woodstock, the legendary music festival will be incorporated into the art pieces. Through the Moe’s new Rockin’ Rewards loyalty app, guests will be able to interact with the art and bring the food to life through their smart phones.

AR technology adds computer-generated images and sounds to enhance our real world surroundings.

For example, guests will be able to use the AR feature to see bees buzz and play the onion drums to make melodies with Moe's 17 quintillion high-quality food combinations.

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Watch out Chipotle, the Competition in the Fresh Mex Segment is Heatin’ up

Watch out Chipotle, the Competition in the Fresh Mex Segment is Heatin’ up

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large 

There are been several recent developments in the “fresh mex” sector of fact casual– including Chipotle’s food safety crisis, Rubio’s expansion to the east coast and Moe’s Southwest Grill being named the Mexican fast casual “brand of the year” in the Harris Poll.

Before November of last year, Chipotle was always leading the pack. Fast forward to today, the brand that boasts “food with integrity” is still struggling to return to where it was before the food safety media frenzy caused sales to slump.

With that in mind, other “fresh mex” restaurants now have a competitive advantage and are gaining momentum in the market.

Through Foodable Labs and data pulled from the Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI,) a proprietary system of our sister company DigitalCoCo– we track over 151 million US social restaurant consumers across 17 social platforms. With over 21k restaurant brands indexed, Foodable has its pulse on what consumers really think about these brands.  

To see what “fresh mex” restaurants consumers are gravitating to we focused primarily on the Sentiment category. The multi-variant sentiment is based on a variety of terms and locations relative to food, service, and overall Brand Experience, providing a much more accurate consumer sentiment score than any other system in the market. The score is based on a hundred-point scale. To put it simply, we have determined which “fresh mex” brands consumers loved the most in the second quarter of 2016.

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