The Restaurant Business Meltdown

Leaving or closing a business is challenging, and many operators wait long after their restaurant has stopped generating revenue to make a clear, though painful decision.

On this episode of The Barron Report, host Paul Barron sits down with author Kevin Alexander. Alexander is the recipient of the James Beard Award and the Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Just released last month, Alexander’s book Burn the Ice: The American Culinary Revolution and Its End, discusses the culinary revolution that began in 2006. Barron and Alexander chat about the predicted recession and restaurant business meltdown coming for the industry.

“It’s the shark motto: move or die,” says Alexander. “I call this age the age of the operator. It’s the folks who are recognizing opportunities and are able to move quickly, do things efficiently, and have good management teams in place ready to jump on these opportunities that are succeeding.”

Companies that have a successful, air-tight concept can trust that that will be all the stronger for the expected recession. And, of course, money helps. “The operators that have enough capital [will] survive,” adds Alexander. For other restaurants, it is paramount that owners recognize when it is time to cut staff or close, and to quickly address a concept that is not working.

And in the move toward on-demand, customers are “caring less and less about where they get [their food] as long as it’s summer,” says Alexander. “It is really worrisome for independent restaurants who are trying to market themselves and stand out.”

However, as concerning as this trend can be for restaurant operators, he urges owners not to panic. “I don’t think it will all transfer over to this on-demand culture. If anything, you see the sustainability of places like movie theaters.” Much like watching a film, Alexander argues that most people will continue to seek the shared experience of dining regardless of what they can now have delivered to their front door.

Listen to the podcast to hear more about the problems of rent costs in major cities, the ever-changing Portland culinary scene, and the rise of ghost kitchens. And if you would like to keep listening, check out The Barron Report podcast on iTunes Now!

Produced by:

Paul Barron

Paul Barron

Editor-in-Chief/Executive Producer


Training Sales Employees For The Modern Catering Landscape

On this episode of Takeout, Delivery, and Catering Show, our podcast hosts, Valerie Killifer and Erle Dardick, sit down with Tracy Avolio, Vice President of The Catering Institute.

Avolio has been with The Catering Institute for eight years and with her, she brought her restaurant industry experience of 25 years to help multi-unit restaurant concepts develop, implement and grow their catering channels. The Catering Institute, which was founded by our show host, Erle Dardick, focuses on the Five Pillars of Successful Restaurant Catering: leadership, centralized services, sales and marketing, operations, and delivery.

On this episode, we will discuss how to train sales employees for the modern catering landscape, but the conversation will touch on how the five pillars are necessary for ultimate success.

“One thing I would add about leadership... the catering is really a business onto itself. It’s different than the retail part of the business...the consumers are sometimes different, their needs and expectations are different, menu is different, packaging is different, delivery is different, you name it,” says Tracy Avolio. “So, it really warrants having somebody that is leading that division and that part of the concept…”

Listen to the episode above to take a deep dive into catering sales and what’s necessary for success!

This episode brought to you by:


Produced by:

Nathan Mikita


Fast Casual Executives Share How Their Brands are Adapting to Stay Successful in Today's Market

The fast casual segment looks much different today than it did 10 years ago. The concepts in this sector continue to disrupt the foodservice space, but they have to find new ways to do this.

Fast casual concepts are often the pioneers or the first adapters when it comes to new trends.

On the IOChangeMakers live stream, we sat down with Donna Josephson, SVP and CMO at Corner Bakery Cafe and André Verner, Partner and co-founder of Dog Haus to see how these brands continue to pivot in today's market to stay successful.

According to Foodable Labs, over 30 percent of the U.S. Restaurant industry is using some form of on-demand third-party ordering solution. But to handle the influx of these orders presents a new challenge. So this is influencing established chains to jump on the virtual restaurant bandwagon.

Both of these restaurant brands see potential in ghost kitchens or virtual kitchens due to the recent third-party delivery surge.

"We see that as an opportunity for us. We have a big physical plant right now and we may not always need that," says Josephson. "And instead of shunning it and pushing away third-party delivery, let's get in fast and put our arms around it and bring it in close."

Dog Haus announced earlier this month that the restaurants are starting to utilize ghost kitchens. By prepping some of these delivery orders off-site, it allows in-store kitchens to focus on in-store orders.

"We are committed with our Kitchen United relationship. It's something new for franchisees as well. To get a brick-and-mortar, at least for our size, it's about $600,000 to build a store, then you have to sign a 10-year lease and hire 40 new employees right away. You're committed," says Verner. "On a Kitchen United location, you sign a one-year deal. All the kitchen equipment is there. They do everything, they do all the equipment maintenance. They do everything except for staffing the three people in the kitchen."

So there are are less overhead costs involved in these virtual concepts.

Want to learn more about what these successful brands are doing to compete in today's market? Check out the video above or the full interview is also now exclusively available on Foodable On-Demand here.

Why Having An Advanced On-Demand Restaurant Strategy Can Set Your Brand Apart

Ever wondered how a great on-demand strategy can differentiate your concept from the rest?

On this episode of Takeout, Delivery, and Catering Show, our host Valerie Killifer sits down with Mark Toth, Founder and CEO of Urban Wok, founded in 2018 in Minneapolis, to figure out just that.

Urban Wok focuses technology to make the customer experience as efficient, seamless and enjoyable as possible.

One example of that is the fact that Urban Wok is completely cashless.

“The main advantage which I did not think of when I opened up Urban Wok is the ability for our employees, and our managers and myself to interact with customers, since we’re not operating with a transaction having to punch and order in or give cash back or change or things like that,” says Mark Toth.  

“We actually can make a meal, talk to the customer, talk about sauces, talk about clean ingredients, help them through the computer system if they need help, although it happens very rarely. So the ability to interact with customers has been nothing but a great thing without having cash to deal with.”

Urban Wok has become a favorite amongst Millennials and Gen Z patrons because of their modern approach to foodservice. Learn more by listening to the podcast above!


This episode brought to you by:


Produced by:

Nathan Mikita


Bite Squad First Rolled Out Unlimited Delivery, Now the Tech Company Goes Greener with a Tesla Test

Bite Squad First Rolled Out Unlimited Delivery, Now the Tech Company Goes Greener with a Tesla Test
  • One of UberEats' biggest competitors, Bite Squad announces a Tesla test.

  • If the test goes well, the company will switch it's fleet from Prius cars to Tesla cars. 

The food delivery company Bite Squad announced earlier this month that it would be test driving the Tesla Model 3 as a potential delivery vehicle to introduce to its fleet.

This is just the latest move to promote eco-friendly practices by the tech company, which currently has a fleet of hybrid-electric cars all painted in the brand’s signature green color. 

“On an average day, we have delivery drivers navigating thousands of food deliveries through the streets of 30 metropolitan markets across the country,” said Kian Salehi, Bite Squad co-founder and CEO in a press release. “Our existing hybrid cars significantly cut emissions, but an all-electric fleet would be completely emissions-free. This is where we want to be.”  

The current fleet consists of hybrid-electric Toyota Prius cars, but the company is planning to stay ahead of the curve to make even less of a negative environmental impact.

“We’re always looking for ways to implement advancing technologies in our company,” said Salehi. “When we launched in 2012, the goal was to reduce the environmental impact of our fleet by using as many hybrid vehicles as we could. The goal is the same today, but the technology has changed. We now have an opportunity to further reduce our impact with an affordable battery-powered car.” 

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