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Entrepreneurial f The Premier Magazine For Food Entrepreneurs

Che

June 2017 Issue 12

In-Depth Q&A With Kevin Boehm & Rob Katz

Boost Your Online Presence & Get More Customers

Choosing The Right Co-Packer To Manufacture Your Products

+

What To Do When Things Don’t Go According To Plan

Elizabeth

Falkner

“You’ve got to operate a business by numbers, you can’t just fly by the seat of your pants every day.”


Entrepreneurial f Che

Magazine

June 2017 Volume 2 Issue #12 Publisher Rennew Media, LLC Editor Shawn Wenner Cover Elizabeth Falkner Cover Photographer Georgina Richardson Graphic Designer Rusdi Saleh Staff Writer Jenna Rimensnyder Contributing Editor Kaiko Shimura Contributors Vic Clevenger, Ricardo Cordero, Amy Riolo, Julie Murphy Horner, Deb Cantrell Photo Credits Laura DeVries, Georgina Richardson, Eric Kleinberg, Anthony Tahlier, Eugene (Huge) Galdones Special Thanks Katy Darnaby, Monique Simms, Elizabeth Falkner, Sammy Davis, Kevin Boehm, Rob Katz, Darren Denington No content, for example, articles, graphics, designs, and information in this publication can be reproduced in any manner without written permission from the publisher. For advertising information, letters to the editor, or submission inquiries, please email: Contact@EntrepreneurialChef.Com Entrepreneurial Chef donates a portion of advertising & editorial space to C-CAP, CORE & Chaine des Rotisseurs.

All Rights Reserved © 2017 Entrepreneurial Chef Published by Rennew Media, LLC 2

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Editor’s Note

A

n epiphany carrying a success principle hit me in the unlikeliest of places – a trail in Maui. After the initial “kiddie” incline, the path became unexpectedly tough. We found ourselves laddering up tree roots, slogging through mud, and wincing past unguarded cliff edges. Yet, with each turn adjacent to the coast, I’d stand idle admiring the view. Finally, as we rounded the final steps toward the panoramic view, ten words rushed with perfect clarity – “fall in love with the process and enjoy the journey.” Suddenly, it all made sense. At that time, my professional life boiled to a breaking point. I’d become so tightly focused on achieving a future goal, I neglected to appreciate the present. Each day brought a task list that served as a harsh reminder of the distance between my present-day ambitions and desired future outcome – and I was miserable. Now, standing at one of the highest points in Maui, what felt like the top of the world, I made my peace. Fast forward to today, the goal I was feverishly working toward was eventually achieved. In retrospect, however, the most valuable part of the journey – start to finish – came from the process, not the outcome. All the milestones achieved, people impacted, and the person I became all outweighed the single end result. You see the outcome, though important, oftentimes pales in comparison to the journey itself – that’s where the cherished moments exist. So as you travel on the entrepreneurial roller coaster and fight each day to chip away at your desired outcome, I implore you to fall in love with the process and enjoy the journey along the way. As always, I sincerely hope this issue provides you with fresh ideas, inspiration, and actionable advice! Cheers, Shawn Wenner


Contents Editor’s Note............................................2

49 39

4 24

Kevin Boehm & Rob Katz Boka Restaurant Group Founders .........4 When Plans Fail & Adjustments Prevail......................... 24 Darren Denington Hospitality In Style............................... 28 Understanding Co-Packing................ 39 Compiling a Cookbook........................ 44

44

28

63

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Elizabeth Falkner I Love to Cook & I Cook to Love.................................... 49 Local SEO: Boost Your Online Presence & Get More Customers........................ 63 Tips for Creating a Business Card People Will Actually Keep................................ 69 Sammy Davis The Art of the Comeback..................... 73

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Breaking Into A Saturated Market.............................. 85


Success Story

Boka Restaurant Group Founders

Kevin Boehm & Rob Katz 4

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Success Story

With

over $700 billion in annual sales, 14+ million employees, and 1+ million restaurants in the U.S. alone, the restaurant industry is in constant flux. Providing equal parts opportunity and hardship, for owners not deliberate or calculated in their approach, their fate is quickly sealed. However, for a select few, they seem to possess a secret formula, where concepts magically turn to gold. What most don’t see, or even refuse to believe, is these “magicians” paid their dues in blood, sweat, and tear – oftentimes in excess. From money struggles and sleepless nights to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches choked down sacrificially, each step created an educational experience that would eventually compound and pay dividends. For the founders of Boka Restaurant Group, Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, an educational experience of trials and tribulations, successes and failures, shaped two of the most successful restaurateurs in the world. Whether they were stiffed by associates or had their hair catch fire from an exploding oven – literally – owning four bars or restaurants individually before their 30th birthday was no easy feat. However, that’s exactly the undertaking before their eventual partnership. One now with 16 restaurants and employing over 1400 people. And to think, sketching designs on cocktail napkins after-hours would have blossomed to one of the most successful restaurant groups today – true story. The question many wonder is, “How do they do it?” From their spirited roundtable discussions, hand selected chef partners, immaculate 5

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attention to detail, and clarity in purpose, it’s easy to see they’ve dialed in a formula. Each restaurant has a signature look and feel, innovation, and a menu from the chef partner to embody the culture of the establishment. For Kevin Boehm, the path was clear at a young age – becoming a restaurateur was his lifelong dream. It wouldn’t come easy, not for Boehm. He worked hard, saved his money, and would eventually purchase a place, never looking back. After opening and running four restaurants on his own, the industry substituted as his facility for higher education. For Rob Katz, he was unexpectedly thrown into the hospitality industry after a Friday night favor turned into a surprising obsession. From bartending his way into a partnership to opening a place of his own, Katz found a niche where he excelled. After opening four bars, Katz met Boehm, and the two began a lasting partnership that would create a foothold in Chicago’s restaurant industry. Both Boehm and Katz interviewed with playful banter and shared a wealth of knowledge. The pair opened the floodgates to their stockpile of experience on how to build, fund, and open not just one, but multiple establishments. Boehm and Katz assure food entrepreneurs that the stars don’t have to align to be successful, but it sure helps. Priding themselves on their middle-class sensibility, the duo keeps grounded with each new venture. In addition to sharing their early career successes and failures, navigating a partnership, and building an organization, they provide great insights on innovation and the outlook for a constantly-evolving industry.


Success Story

& QA The

with

Kevin Boehm & Rob Katz

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With 20 restaurants in 2 decades, where did it begin and what attracted you all to restaurants? KB: For me, I knew I wanted to be a restaurateur when I was 10. After attending the University of Illinois for three years, I dropped out with the dream of working in restaurants, saving money, and opening a restaurant. It was pretty much that simple. I moved to the panhandle of Florida and worked in restaurants for a couple of years, saved my money, and opened a six-table restaurant in Seaside, Florida in 1993. That’s where my education in restaurants began. A six table restaurant in a small town allowed me to make and survive a lot of mistakes. After a couple of years, somebody bought me out, so I opened a sushi, wine, and rock ‘n’ roll bar, which was successful and a lot of fun. After somebody bought that one from me, I signed a 6

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non-compete, so I opened a place in my hometown of Springfield and eventually another in Nashville. All four of those restaurants were opened before my 30th birthday. It was my Bachelor’s degree in restaurants, and when I moved to Chicago in late 2001 and met Rob, it was time to get the Masters and Ph.D. That’s when we started Boka Restaurant Group. RK: I moved to Chicago in 1987 to become an options trader, which epitomizes entrepreneurship. I didn’t know a single person in Chicago and was placed in an apartment with a couple of older guys. One of my roommates bought a bar and came into my trading pit one day and said, “Listen, I’m getting ripped off. I fired every person on the staff, and I need you to bartend tonight.” Even though I had no experience, I agreed to bartend and ended up having the time of my life. I fell in love immediately with the action and excitement. I was taken with the hospitality aspect. As a result, I bartended every Friday for quite some time. One thing led to another and eventually was given partnership in the bar.


Success Story

If you enjoy too much of your own party, you’re not going to last very long. — Kevin Boehm

Eventually, I realized there was an opportunity for me to be successful in business, so I ended up opening 3 bars on my own between 1993 and 1998. I never dreamt as a young kid I’d be in that type of hospitality industry, but I was lucky enough to find some success in it. As I started settling down – married and about to have a family – it was time to pivot into something a little more grown up, and that was the restaurant business. I made the change officially in 2003. Even though Kevin and I were introduced in 2001, it took nearly two years for us to find the right spot, and to finally open Boka. KB: We each had four places before partnering, and both before 30 years old. Now, we’ve done 16 together. Originally, when we opened Boka Restaurant in 2003, the conversation was just about one. The sketch of that restaurant wasn’t as specific as all of our sketches today. 7

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We opened a contemporary American restaurant in the middle of Lincoln Park; not an incredibly tight concept, but we wanted a good American restaurant in that area where there was a disparity in the middle. There were low and highbrow places, and we wanted to sit right in between. As time went on, we used to sit at the bar at the end of the night and build this architecture of what became Boka Restaurant Group, basically on cocktail napkins. From those conversations, we thought, “What if we built a company, not just around one chef, but around multiple chefs that fit each concept, where every restaurant would be individually crafted and curated.” That became the plan. Then we thought, “Can we attract these great chefs, or do we have the intelligence to find the right chefs?” Those were some of the questions back then, and so far we’ve done pretty good.


Success Story

We started with basically two nickels that we rubbed together, and had hoped for the best. — Rob Katz

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Success Story

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What was is like making the leap into entrepreneurship, and then even coming together as partners? Painful memories, smooth sailing, or a combination thereof? RK: We achieved success on our own, but neither of us was used to having a partner, per se. There was a feeling out phase, but a healthy one. Very quickly, we realized each other’s strengths and weaknesses, maybe even internally, and gravitated to what each of us was really good at. Now, 16 years later, all of those ethos are still in place. We just kind of do what we do. There’s never been a chart that says, “Kevin you do this, and Rob you do that.” We’re both driven, competitive, have a serious sense of entrepreneurship and wanted to do something great. We realized early on it would be a good partnership. KB: I think the hardest thing about partnerships is when one person is working harder and bringing more to the table than the other – and that’s never been an issue with us. We always knew what it took to get the job done, and we’re okay with spirited conversations to get answers – spirited conversations that never erupted into arguments. RK: There’s something very fulfilling about owning a business, and also something very overwhelming about it, too. You can be on an island, left to fend for yourself. When I ventured off to open a bar on my own, I didn’t have much money. I passed the hat to friends, and someone lent me $10,000 that I signed a promissory note for. We were trying to open, and money was running out quickly. Obviously, I didn’t have much experience in putting together budgets or dealing with general contractors. The general contractor – a real slime ball – said, “You need to come up with $10,000 fast. 9

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I think the hardest thing about partnerships is when one person is working harder and bringing more to the table than the other – and that’s never been an issue with us. — Kevin Boehm


SSuccess u c c e s s Story Story Otherwise, I can’t do any more work here.” I didn’t have the money, so I borrowed more, and as soon as I gave it to him, he disappeared and never came back. I remember being in a very, very dark place. I mean, fetal position in a dark room and barely getting out of bed; I was so bummed and upset. In the early days, when we had our own places, we worked everything on our own. Open to close. There were no managers because you couldn’t afford to pay one. It gave the opportunity to become sort of an expert in different areas, and it helped pave the way for who I am, and who we are today. So, I’m grateful for the struggles I went through.

There’s something very fulfilling about owning a business, and also something very overwhelming about it, too. — Rob Katz

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When Kevin and I found each other, it was great because we had gone through those things, grew as businessmen, and made the mistakes we needed to make. Even so, there was still some turbulence while we found our voices as restaurateurs and businessmen. KB: My first week as a restaurant owner, I reached down to put a piece of bread in the oven, the pilot light went out, and the oven blew up in my face and caught my hair on fire. My whole head burst into flames, and I had to spend the night in the hospital. So, it was not an auspicious start. Then, with my restaurant in Florida, it was open air, and it got unseasonably cool very quickly that year so we couldn’t open for dinner and I was left to figuring out how to put a roof and sides on it. In the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing, and it was rough. You had to be a good squirrel in Florida because, if you didn’t bury your nuts all summer long, when it came to winter time, you weren’t going to eat, and you weren’t going to make it through. We just happened to open at the end of the summer, and I’ll tell you I did not eat well that first winter.


Success Story Today, we look at people’s business plans for their first restaurant; a lot of times, they get overly ambitious on their first. We see them spending 2 million dollars on restaurant one. I think the fact that Rob and I had a lot of middle-class sensibility, and opened places that required us to run them, has helped pave the way for our success. RK: Understand, when we started in this business, Kevin and I were very, very young. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. Today, it wouldn’t be possible for people our age now to start with shoestring budgets because it takes time. We needed to get those 10,000 hours under our belts to become experts. It’s very different when you’re 24, 25, 26; you really don’t have a ton to lose. And you certainly have to have the stamina to work those incredibly arduous hours. Sometimes, people forget where we’ve come from. All they see is beautiful fancy restaurants we’re opening, a high budget, and maybe they think it was always easy – it wasn’t. We’ve come a long, long way over the last 25 years.

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As you started to scale with multiple locations, what were some lessons you learned along the way? KB: We started relatively deliberate. We opened Boka in 2003, a second two years later, and a third three years later. At that point, we felt we could still get our arms completely wrapped around all those restaurants, even though the corporate office was just two, Rob and I. When we opened Girl & the Goat in 2010, the company exploded a bit. Right about then we started to lose our minds from being foolish and not building our infrastructure. The huge learning lesson in 2010 and 2011 was that we 11

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needed more people around us and needed to trust them. At that point, we were untrusting to let go of things we had always done and allow people some rope to fail. What we were doing was giving ourselves nervous breakdowns. There was a moment, and we both remember it, where Rob put his hands on my shoulders and said, “What are we doing to ourselves?” We were still treating those first four restaurants as individual island restaurants. A lot of which did things completely different than restaurant one, and it was time for us to build the culture and standard operating procedures. That’s what we started doing those next few years. Now, we look at our team of 1400 employees and 25 people in the corporate office, and there’s no way we could do it without all those people. But it took time to get all the stuff in our brains and put it into standard operating procedures that can be used throughout all of the restaurants.


Success Story

Every time we go out and do something, we’re talking about how can we innovate and do something different that sets us apart. — Kevin Boehm

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Success Story

You have to delegate because otherwise you’re not gonna enjoy life, you’re not gonna enjoy the ride, and you’re not gonna grow. — Rob Katz

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How did you build the culture of the organization and are there things you do to ensure its integrity and longevity? KB: You maintain culture by the way you build the structure of the company. If you look at everybody sitting in our office, from Ian Goldberg, our Vice President, and the first employee we hired, to Abby, our Executive Director, who’s been with us for 10 years, and Erin Phillips, our Director of Education, who’s been with us for six years, these are people who understand the mission statement and culture of the company. Obviously, Rob and I can’t be at 15 restaurants at the same time. So, it’s building the corporate team with people who have been with 13

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us for a long time and have a true understanding of what Boka restaurant group means and what it’s always meant. RK: To add, we open a lot of restaurants, and that same corporate team picks up and goes to each one. We have people who have been with us for so long, are on the same page with what our statement is, who we want to be, and what we want that restaurant to be, where everyone descends on that restaurant to train in different facets. Someone is training the wine program, someone is training the servers and getting the spiel down, the chefs are working with the back of the house team. We really concentrate on training, and we stay at those restaurants weeks on end, or months on end until we feel the restaurant is running in the lane we want it to run in. We can’t go open more restaurants until we know each of our current restaurants are running exactly the way we want them to run.


Success Story

5

As you open new restaurants, what are the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’re looking at and who’s managing those? RK: We’re in a position now that when we open a restaurant, within a very short period of time, it feels like the restaurant has been there a lot longer than it has. That’s because we do such extensive training. Openings can be bumpy – there can be a lack of communication between the back of the house and the front of the house, the timing of food coming out can be off, or the servers aren’t keeping up with the back of the house. Bartenders, Hosts, everyone has to be on the same page, and it has to run like a perfect symphony. When you’re in the zone, when it’s running very smoothly, we know it because we’ve seen and experienced it so many times. When it’s not, it’s painful. It takes a lot of work to get everything to run very smoothly. So, when we say we bring our corporate team in, each restaurant has its own general manager, assistant general manager, its own infrastructure of management, but we also assign one of our corporate managers to a specific restaurant, or restaurants. KB: When it comes to how we know the restaurant is up and running – there are two answers. One is more emotional; it’s a feel. I think we’re pretty good at being intuitive about when the restaurant has gotten to that point. But, there is also data that we look, one of which is profitability. Then there are OpenTable scores and Venga scores. There’s usually an evolution to those scores, which range from the first couple of weeks we’re open through 90 days, where those scores are going up and then plateau a bit. 14

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Success Story With profitability, Duck Goat, there’s a we’re big sharers. We lot about Stephanie sit around a table with in those restaurants. every single manager At the same time, we of a restaurant, and we spend many hours sitdo not keep numbers ting around a table proprietary. We share with some very smart people, including our every single line item of every single PNL. branding team, design We let everyone know team, and corporate at the very beginning. team. When Rob and I We may say, “Listen, conceptualize a restauwe spent $2.7 million rant, we go into a lot of on this restaurant, and detail before it opens, here’s how much we and that’s a concept made in month one, we stick to. We think and here’s how long it’s very important that it’s gonna take to get we don’t waiver on paid off.” We let everywho we are. — Kevin Boehm body sitting at the table To be honest, we know that they’re basiwere not very good cally a partner because at this with the first three restaurants. We if the restaurant makes more money, they make opened three restaurants with the same demore money. We’re big sharers of information. signer, close geographically, and all were Amer-

We place equal importance on food, hospitality, and design.

Also, with OpenTable and Venga scores, that’s something we share in a way to pit the restaurants against each other, not in a nasty way, but in a competitive way. We like showing them where they fit against other restaurants, both in food scores, service scores, ambiance scores and recommend rates.

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What is your secret to maintaining the identity of each establishment rather than seeming like a cookie-cutter operation? KB: There are two answers here. One being there’s a reason we have chef partners. A part of the identity of the restaurant comes from who the chef-partner is, and they take ownership of those properties. For example, Stephanie Izard, chef of Girl & the Goat, Little Goat, and Duck 15

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ican restaurants. We said, “Uh oh, maybe that’s not the right move.” If you look at our website now, there’s a coffee shop, a rooftop bar, Japanese place, Chinese place, a steakhouse. We got very specific about what we wanted to do, what we wanted our restaurants to look like, what the concept was and who the chef partner was, and it was all crafted from very long discussions.

RK: When we’re opening new restaurants, we’re very, very careful to not cannibalize any of our other existing restaurants. We don’t want anything too close in menu or design. We want each to stand on its own with an independent voice, look and feel as a restaurant. We’re very careful to make sure each one of our restaurants felt different, looked different, tasted different and it’s really helped us. We haven’t repeated a concept yet, not one time, and we are still finding a customer base that is supporting us and excited for what we bring to the marketplace.


Success Story

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When you’re seeking a chef partner, what specifically do you look for in them?

KB: Our analogy is there are certain singers on the radio you hear and can instantly tell who they are by their voice, and we always look for that in a chef. If you blindfolded Rob and I and put all six chef partners’ food in front of us, we would instantly tell who they were stylistically. We’re looking for a signature voice, something that doesn’t blend in with everyone else. But then, we also look for someone who can think with both sides of their brain and is a good person. One of the big questions for both chefs and restaurateurs is, “Do you enjoy too much of your own party?” If you enjoy too much of your own party, you’re not going to last very long. We basically throw a party, make a mess, clean it up, and do it again. If you’re the guy or girl who wants to be part of the actual party, you’re gonna end up dead, in rehab, or out of business. RK: Or all three! It’s a slippery slope of our business; it’s quite intoxicating. You can get a little bit of success, and people may put you 16

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on a pedestal, and we see people fall into that situation. Listen, it’s a fun business, it’s a hard business too, but there’s a great deal of fun to be had. Someone has to be mature enough to handle success and have a good head on their shoulders. Ultimately, we check the boxes. First of all, do we like you? Are you a unique talent, and as Kevin said, have a distinctive voice as a chef? Do you have a business sense? Are you wanting to learn more about the restaurant business? The business aspect is very important, and every one of our chef partners takes a keen interest in the business. Despite Kevin and I having hundreds of tastings with different chefs, we only have six chef partners. There have been lots of chefs who wanted deals with us, but there were many red flags along the way. It might be they only want to be a celebrity chef with restaurants across the country they stop in every couple of weeks. It’s a very strange term, “celebrity chef,” because most of our chefs are celebrities, but they are in their kitchen working their tails off. We want chefs who work in the kitchen, who are spreading their message to their staff. We have chefs where the people who work for them would walk through for them. They respect them because they see how much they work. And it’s really critical for Kevin and I to have partners like that.


Success Story

We always knew what it took to get the job done, and we’re okay with spirited conversations to get answers – spirited conversations that never erupted into arguments. — Kevin Boehm

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Success Story

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If tomorrow you were planning another location, what does your checklist entail and where do you start? KB: First, we place equal importance on food, hospitality, and design. So, sometimes it starts with a chef partner. Sometimes it starts with a concept. It very rarely starts with a location – only one time in our history. Usually, we have concepts in queue we’d like to do, but we’re waiting for that opportunity. For example, we wanted to do a Japanese restaurant since we started together. We never found the talent to pull it off – that talent is very specific when it comes to Japanese restaurants. We were always willing to do that restaurant, but it wasn’t until we finally did a tasting with a chef that we thought we could build the restaurant around – and then we went after it. RK: In some instances, timing is everything. You have to have a sense of timing in business. We could have done that [Japanese] restaurant a year or two earlier, or a year or two later, but we had to pick our spot and [at that time] there

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happened to be an opening in the marketplace. There was a large format Japanese restaurant that ruled the roost for many years in Chicago, and they had seen their better days. There was another [Japanese] restaurant that had opened, but it was a little different than ours. The timing was exact, and we pulled the trigger. We saw an opening, knew what we wanted, found the chef, and had an unbelievable building we fell in love with and purchased. We look at the landscape. Sometimes we want to open the restaurants we want, and don’t want to look at the competition – what some chef or restaurateur is doing – but we’re not foolish. For instance, there’s no reason to open the third steakhouse on the same block in a small neighborhood. So you have to look at the landscape in front of you.

We stay away from trends; we try to push designs.— Rob Katz


Success Story

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Given shifts in consumer dining preferences, do you have processes to ensure innovation as to stay ahead of the competition? KB: It’s a huge importance to us, but I think that comes down to spirited conversations with some really smart people sitting around a table. When we talked about doing Swift & Sons, even though it was a traditional steakhouse, we still wanted to innovate it. We said, “What can we do that no one else is doing?” So we came up with the concierge desk at that restaurant. We have a concierge on site who’s only there to provide hospitality for the guests. Every time we go out and do something, we’re talking about how can we innovate and do something different that sets us apart.

RK: We’re evolving. Obviously, we are getting older; our lives are changing, we have families and children. We’ve seen a lot, and done a lot. Our pace is changing, and we always want to evolve. I think on top of that, our instincts have always served us well. We stay away from trends; we try to push design. There’s this point where trends start, and then they find homes across the United States, and across the world. We’d like to be in a place where we’re helping to start trends, rather than follow. But you’ve got to take risks in order to do that. We love to do things that people have not seen. I think we’re innovating in a lot of different ways, and part of it is just the natural evolution of who we are.

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In your opinion, what does the restaurant industry need right now that aspiring entrepreneurs could create as solutions? KB: The industry is changing in two ways; more intellectual people are entering the business and thinking about the industry in different ways, and people entering this business want a better healthy life balance involved. The worst problem in our industry is most people think of it as an unhealthy industry. You work late, you don’t get enough sleep, you don’t eat well, you go out and drink after your shift. I think that’s changing. We recently talked to a nutritionist who was gonna provide protein shakes for people could drink throughout their shift. So, at midnight they didn’t end their shift starving, and going out to drink and eat a pizza at 2 o’clock in the morning. RK: One thing I think that people really could do to improve this industry is making sure that it’s a healthier lifestyle for people.

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With many markets facing a shortage of entry-level employees if you were to propose a solution for the industry, what would it be and how could it be pulled off? KB: The outcry in our industry right now is grow or die. One of the reasons for that is if you cannot provide opportunities for people, it’s difficult to get people to come in on the ground floor. One of the things we’re able to do by having multiple outlets is to offer somewhere for people to go that do come in at entry level.

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RK: In our industry, the chasm between the front of house and back of the house pay has been big in the news. People who go to [culinary] school, they train and train, then come in at a low-level cook who makes $10, $11, $12 an hour. Yet, a bartender or a server, they’ll walk away at the end of the night with their pockets filled with cash. In the future, there has to be a way to make the industry a more level playing field, so people know there’s a future and career for them, and that there is more financial stability for them to take the leap into the industry.

We’d like to be in a place where we’re helping to start trends, rather than follow. But you’ve got to take risks in order to do that. We love to do things that people have not seen. — Rob Katz


Success Story

Be incredibly deliberate about that first restaurant, because that first foot forward is gonna be your most important. — Kevin Boehm

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for them?

For anyone looking to open a restaurant, what advice and cautions do you have

RK: Someone who’s wanting to open a restaurant, they have to know every aspect of the restaurant. I mentioned that Kevin and I became experts in each position because we wanted to know what everyone was doing at all times. We made sure we could walk the walk and talk the talk. I think you have to be very, very knowledgeable and you have to be able to delegate. For us, it took a while to reach that point and life wasn’t nearly as fun because we were working ourselves sick. We did everything; from placing every order that came in, to writing every single check, every payroll check, to making the bank deposits, to plunging the toilet, we did everything. Then we said, “Hey, the manager can put the banks together, this person can make the order.” You have to delegate because otherwise you’re not gonna enjoy life, you’re not gonna enjoy the ride, and you’re not gonna grow. KB: I would say start small, and keep your middle-class sensibility about yourself. You’ve got to crawl before you can walk. You’ve got to learn to be able to run a restaurant that has 50 seats before you can figure out how to do one that seats 150. I think people get way too ambitious with their first place. Be incredibly deliberate about that first restaurant, because that first foot forward is gonna be your most important. You can’t un-ring a bell – once you develop a reputation in a town, it’s hard to change that. While you’re working for other people, keep a notebook with you. Take notes, keep all your ideas together. And that first restaurant should be something you’ve been thinking about for a long, long time. Photo Credits: Eric Kleinberg, Anthony Tahlier, Eugene (Huge) Galdones

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Top Ten Takeaways from Kevin Boehm & Rob Katz 1

For aspiring restaurateurs, keep a notebook close and constantly log your ideas and insights.

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Don’t allow the stigma of an unhealthy lifestyle keep you from pursuing a career in the restaurant industry.

2

Master the art of delegation if you want to maintain your sanity, enjoy the ride, and experience growth.

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Be selective with whom you bring into your kitchen; they must align with your restaurant’s image.

3

Don’t be afraid to take risks and be a trendsetter.

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4

A sense of timing is pivotal in business. Execute when you see an opportunity.

Never wait to be inspired by what someone else is doing, find your inspiration through action.

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5

Maturity plays a role in your success, it’s a balance between business and pleasure.

There’s value in not repeating a restaurant concept when scaling to multiple locations.

10

Master the job functions you askof your staff, or at the very least, have a thorough understanding of them.

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Change Management

When Plans

Fail &

Adjustments

Prevail By: Vic Clevenger

S

ometimes intentions just don’t work out as planned. I was looking forward to April 20th because it was National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day. I love to cook this cake, especially in a cast iron skillet on my grill which gives it a crust that’s to die for. The day arrived, and I had it all planned out. I gathered the ingredients, preheated the grill and set out to get my cook on. Everything was going according to plan with the butter melting in the pan mingling with the brown sugar as I was mixing up the other ingredients. I was on target, on point or as the young people say, I was on fleek (I think I used that right). However, I deviated from the original plan a wee bit with the greatest of intentions to make it better. 24

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Change Management After making those “improvements,” I continued on with the plan. The pineapples and maraschino cherries were distributed, the batter was poured into the awaiting cast iron, and then I went to eat my dinner as if nothing was happening outside. Everything was going along as normal, or so I thought. Although the stuffed clams I was devouring were delicious, the time had come for me to remove my creation from the fire. Songs of adoration about my grilling “greatness” were echoing in my head as I grabbed my wooden skewers to check for doneness because as any cook knows, “if it doesn’t stick, it’s time to evict” from the skillet. Since everything appeared pert near perfect, I made the preparations to do “The Flip” imagining the stories about my backyard grill master prowess growing into legend as they are passed on from generation to generation.

It wasn’t until the highly anticipated flip, did I realize perfection was only a dream and the folklore turned into a stark reality. Yep, you guessed right, I had burned this delightful dessert beyond salvaging. I tried calling it “caramelization” then quickly tried to pass it off a just “blackened” or “Cajun.” But burnt by any other name is still just as ruined. The bottom part, which had a beautiful golden color, was still delicious and looked wonderful but what’s a pineapple upside down cake without the pineapple upside down part? So this cake found a new home at 1 Trash Can Avenue (my dog, Shadow, wasn’t even interested in eating it). However, what would this catastrophe be without some lesson to be learned? The first bit of knowledge I gleaned was, I need to make adjustments when things change. Not everything proceeds just as planned no matter how good the intentions may be, so I need to be flexible enough to adapt to the change, tweaking (not twerking, that’s another story) as I go along for the best results. Lesson number two and perhaps most important is, I didn’t let it get me down. Just because something doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to doesn’t make you a failure. Rather, if gives you a reference point of what doesn’t work so next time you’ll figure out what does. Oh, and there should always be a “next time.” When I cook, whether it’s at a tailgate, food sport competition or just in my backyard, I have great intentions on how I will make this food one of the most prodigious morsels you’ve ever eaten. But sometimes the best-laid plans go awry then a choice needs to be made, how will I handle this, how am I going to approach this situation? Will I tuck tail and run or adapt to the change? So I chose to change my approach at the next opportunity, otherwise the desserts will get burned every time.

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Change Management

Not everything proceeds just as planned no matter how good the intentions may be, so I need to be flexible enough to adapt to the change. — Vic Clevenger

Pineapple Upside Down Cake (on the grill) Ingredients: 20 oz can of sliced Pineapples 8 oz can pf Pineapple tidbits (optional) Small Jar of Maraschino Cherries 1 bag of pecans (optional - I don’t use pecans, but some people like them so knock yourself out if you do) 4 Large Eggs ½ Cup of Butter (one stick) 1 cup All-purpose flour 1 tsp Baking powder

measure to about a cup full. Melt butter in the skillet then evenly sprinkle the brown sugar to let them mingle for a bit (this is when you would lay down the pecans if you’re so inclined). Distribute the pineapple rings in the skillet placing the cherries in the center of each ring (or any open space for that matter depending on how many you want – you’ve got a jar of them might as well use them). Pour in the batter and let cook for about 45 minutes. Take your wooden skewers to check for doneness. Once clean do the Flip, and you should have a perfect Pineapple Upside Down Cake. *For the burnt version of this recipe, just crank the heat up to 400 degrees and let it cook for an hour or so.

1 cup Brown sugar, packed 1/4 tsp Salt 1 cup Sugar 1 tsp Vanilla extract 1 cup of pineapple juice (substitute for water if you want – but you’ll be sorry cause it won’t taste as good) Warm grill to 350 degrees and warm the cast iron skillet. While this is being done, you can be mixing the ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, vanilla, eggs, tidbits). I drain the juice from the pineapple cans which 26

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“Finding the funny in life” is how nationally touring comedian Vic Clevenger approaches his audiences when he steps on stage. Often compared to the likes of Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy, Vic shows how everyday life, can be funny with his humorous observations and southern comedic style. His audiences soon realize life, whether it’s around a BBQ pit, grill or in a hot kitchen, is more fun when you’re laughing.


CORE supports children of food + beverage employees navigating life-altering circumstances/conditions. Learn how you can help at COREgives.org

COREgives.org


Success Story

Hospitality

In Style

Darren

Denington 28

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Success Story

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culinary industry insider since he was thirteen years old, Darren Denington has turned his love of the industry into one of the most unique services in the nation. A business idea that started first with catering, then evolved with a friendly favor, Denington’s Service with Style Hospitality Group now boasts three major services: secret shopping, team training, and restaurant coaching. With a complete set of programs designed to improve how restaurants function, Denington is quickly changing the face of the hospitality industry and enabling institutions to achieve bigger goals, faster.

Denington spoke with us between coaching new restaurant owners about Service with Style, the mistakes most new restaurant owners make, and what has worked or not in developing his business. He also discussed the importance of starting small, how crucial structure is, and the one critical ingredient to a successful business that can’t be taught. Background From the time he was thirteen, Denington was fully immersed in the culinary industry. Like most young adults, he entered the industry flipping burgers, then gradually worked his way up the ladder. Finding that he loved the business, he found employment at a hotel during high school and tried out every position that he could. In college, the love for the industry turned into a food and beverage management major. It was during this time that Denington first launched his business, Service with Style. “[I] consulted for a few dining rooms, and that’s where it began,” he told us, “probably a year after college, that’s when I turned it into Service with Style Catering which was my first brickand-mortar building.” Denington stayed in the catering and take-out meals business for about 29

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two to three years before relocating to Brandon, Florida. After the move, Denington worked for several other establishments. As a Food and Beverage Manager for a higher end hotel, Denington had planned to be away for a particular weekend. He asked a friend to have a drink at the hotel while he was away and relay what the experience was like. A few days later, he asked the same friend to get breakfast to see how his servers were treating people. “At that point, I’d never heard of the concept of secret shopping, didn’t understand it, and remember [asking my friend to type up a few paragraphs about the experience]” Denington said, “and that’s how it really started.” Service as Style Hospitality Group was relaunched in 1998 and, for the next ten years, focused solely on secret shopping for restaurants. Denington’s initial marketing plan was


Success Story

Leadership sparks morale, when you have strong leadership, people want to be there, and that drives productivity and that turns into profits. — Darren Denington

limited to sending out approximately 90 fliers, out of which he gained four customers, one of which was an local Applebee’s manager. “We started secret shopping his location, then the area director [of Applebee’s] picked it up, and then the company picked it up, and before we knew it we were doing 60 to 70 Applebee’s observations a month,” Denington said, “we thought we had something special based on the way we were reporting and the quality of the reports we were providing.” Denington’s service is unique in that it is supplemented by the use of a reporting platform. This allows for statistical reporting, tracking reporting history, and also permits clients to make specific requests. The result is a tailored, comprehensive analysis of how a restaurant’s staff is providing service. Service with Style has since expanded to include team training and restaurant coaching 30

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services as well. The team training sessions are aimed at establishing a clearly defined structure for both management and staff. The management training program guides the team to identify priorities, what actions must be taken to meet those priorities, what projects should be pursued, and who is responsible for every part of the restaurant. Next, Denington and his team train the staff on employee morale and team productivity, including how they can create the kind of work environment they want and how that has a positive effect on both management and guests. The third prong of Service with Style is restaurant coaching, which offers services related to any business aspect that owners are seeking to improve on. From seeking out franchise possibilities to looking for locations to marketing plans to financial plans to hiring,


Success Story Service with Style does it all. “We bring a lot of resources, a lot of support, a lot of systems into your restaurant, where we’re physically with you, every single month to coach you and get your entire team better,” Denington explained.

Building Relationships at Trade Shows With separate legs of the business, marketing strategies differ, but one aspect that they all share is a major presence at trade shows. Not only does attending trade shows across the nation allow Denington to keep in tune with what’s new in the industry, it’s the most effective way for Service with Style to get exposure and its name out to its target audience. However, simply attending or setting up a booth isn’t sufficient. Denington advises that you must make attendance worthwhile by standing out. “It’s about the return,” he pointed out, “you’ve got to be working a booth so that people are excited enough to come over to you.” Denington has also been asked to conduct workshops and speaking engagements at trade shows. “What I’ve learned is that it’s 99.9% education,” he said. Though speaking engagements are difficult to secure without first building credibility and a track record, once approached by trade shows, Denington emphasizes the need to provide something that is actionable and educational. “I look at it as a partnership with the shows,” he said, “the shows are trying to put together the best educational sessions possible because they’re aware that the audience is coming for seminars, also. When a speaker can add value to the show, then it starts to build a good, strong partnership.” In building a client base, once Deningtonmakes contacts, he will follow up and meet with them individually. “What we like to do best is give away a free coaching session,” he said, “we go up for a couple of hours to your 31

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A true entrepreneur isn’t built from fear, but excitement from the possibilities. — Darren Denington


Success Story

When you find the time and resources to look at the bigger picture, you’re working on the things that really make an impact. — Darren

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Denington


Success Story restaurant and help you out where we can, and then we talk a little bit about how we might be able to grow from there.” Denington also uses this opportunity to interview the client to see if Service with Style would be a good fit. “What we’ve found is that there’s a group that wants to get better and is ready for that, and then there are some people who don’t want to do the work and only want the magic pill,” he said, “and that’s not us. So we want to make sure we’re the right fit for whomever we’re going to help, because we love the results and we can really drive home the results if they’re doing the work from the inside.” With a proven track record of success, industry expertise, and effective tools to address management problems, clients also often refer

others to Denington. Sysco has been a major source of referrals after Denington established how effective his strategies can be, through workshops, seminars, and full-day training sessions. “It’s that same model [as the trade show speaking engagements],” he said, “we’ve proven to Sysco that we understand what we’re doing and we can be a great resource for them to pass on our information to their clients” So what hasn’t worked, we asked. “Anything that’s just putting our name and logo in front of somebody,” Denington said, “we’re all about trying to shake their hand and developing relationships.” Newspaper ads, banner ads, and mail-out strategies have not been effective as Service with Style is so focused around the client.

A successful restaurant doesn’t start off with signing a lease, it starts with creating a budget and understanding the market and identifying the keys that are going into the business first, not trying to work on someone else’s timeline.

— Darren Denington

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Success Story

Insights as a Business Owner Though Service with Style has been highly successful, Denington is careful to note that he started very small. “We started as a part-time, causal business that was meant to do a few secret shops a week,” Denington said, “but pretty quickly we realized we had something and jumped in.” Denington told us that funding was very minimal to start, and that the venture was completely self-funded. Denington is an advocate of researching the market, and told us that he thoroughly tested the market prior to launching his business as a full-scale, full-time endeavor. When he expanded to include coaching and team building into Service with Style, he again tested the market to gauge demand. Then, Denington looked into — Darren how his company could help this particular market: what the issues were, what they were struggling with, and what the possible solutions were. Once Service with Style started working with coaching clients, they careful tracked the results to see if their approach was effective. “The results were absolutely there,” he said, “so then we got serious about it, and started to put together a marketing plan, and now we’re on a growth plan.”

business owners making. Denington didn’t hesitate in pointing out that many get caught up in day-to-day operations, thus preventing them from pursuing larger goals. “And where [getting stuck in the day-to-day tasks] leaves them is overworked and frustrated that they’re not moving forward enough,” Denington said, “and when a good, strong management team is put in place, they understand how to handle the daily challenges. When the daily challenges are handled, then they can stop and look at the bigger picture. When you find the time and resources to look at the bigger picture, you’re working on the things that really make an impact.”

To solve this issue, Denington’s solution is a solid structure. “It starts with structure, it starts with understanding that the management team has to be working on the same page. That they have to understand what their position is, they have to understand what their responsibilities Denington are, and have incredible communication so that three, four, five managers are all on the same page.” When this type of structure is in place, Denington’s experience has taught him that it then allows restaurants to pursue larger goals. Another benefit of a strong management team is that eventually, tasks will start to feel easier, which will significantly raise morale.

Test the market, first, we did. We started it slow, and tested it and worked out the kinks.

The Most Common Mistake Business Owners Make With nearly a decade of helping open and franchise restaurants, we asked Denington about the most common mistake that he sees 34

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The Leadership Piece Though Denington’s team can bring in an arsenal of tools and systems to facilitate communications across teams, leadership is the one crucial piece of the puzzle that he can’t provide. “When we come in with our coaching program, and there’s strong leadership already


Success Story

in place, that’s when things are really taking off,” he said, “when we come in and bring in every system and every solution, but there’s no one in the business to really implement, you’re stuck in the mud. You have to have a leader, and I think this is the piece of the industry that isn’t taught.” Leaders who can inspire trust are capable of guiding employees, which will allow systems to function correctly and smoothly. When restaurants are struggling, Denington often finds that it’s often due to a weak leadership. 35

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When resolving this problem, Denington pointed out to us how, as long as there is someone on the management team with a high level of leadership, then you can succeed. It isn’t critical to have everyone in management reflect strong leadership traits, and if need be, owners with leadership skills can sometimes be roped in to share those skills with the team. “If they don’t have the leadership now,” he said, “it can be slowly implemented, but you still need someone to take hold of this and let everyone know where it’s going.”


Success Story

Advice for Entrepreneurs When we asked Denington what advice he’d give to aspiring entrepreneurs, he emphasized that everyone should “test the market, first.” Denington understands that leaving a well-paying, full-time job to pursue a business is a significant risk, and advocates starting small, possibly as a side business if that’s an option. “That’s exactly what we did, we started it slow, and tested it and worked out the kinks, and tried to find if there is a market out there first,” he said, “all too often, we see restaurant owners jumping into something they don’t truly understand and they think it’s going to be a massive hit, and six months later, they’re struggling, and now they’re in crisis mode.” In terms of opening a restaurant, Denington points out that owners often make the mistake of believing that finding a location is the first step. However, once you sign a lease, Denington explained, you’re now on your landlord’s timeline without having completed the steps necessary to launch a successful business. “A successful restaurant doesn’t start off with signing a lease,” he said, “it starts with creating a budget and understanding the market and identifying the keys that are going into the business first, not trying to work on someone else’s timeline.” Based on the last 20 to 25 restaurants he’s helped open, Denington estimates that only about five went into the process fully prepared. Those five had the budgets calculated, the sales per square foot that they would need to generate, and the systems in place prior to opening. “Typically, in the next three or four months [in an unprepared restaurant], the staff is now running the ship, instead of the management,” he said, “and management is just trying to keep up. Six, eight, nine months [in], they now understand what they need. Well, I want to understand what I need three months before the doors even open. So, there’s a lot more work before opening a restaurant if you’re going to do it at a high level, successfully.” 36

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Opening a restaurant must be done for the market first, not for the ego or the feelings of the chef. — Darren Denington

Fear as an Entrepreneur As a true entrepreneur, Denington noted that the only time he felt enough fear to pause and consider whether he was making the right decision was when he was signing a long-term lease. “A true entrepreneur isn’t built from fear,” he said, “but excitement from the possibilities.” Again, Denington emphasizes that one way to handle fear is to test the market. For a chef looking to open his own restaurant, Denington points out that the market matters. Doing research is critical, because a chef can be extremely talented, yet the cuisine may not be a fit for the location. “I suggest a survey in advance, and I suggest a tasting,” he said, “the people in your inner circle are always going to provide you with the positive, you have to push past that to the next 50 people that are going to give you the honest feedback. Opening a restaurant must be done for the market first, not for the ego or the feelings of the chef.”

A Recipe for Success When we asked about his recipe for success, Denington told us that “I always go back to the leadership.” “Leadership sparks morale,” he continued, “when you have strong leadership, people want to be there, and that drives productivity and that turns into profits.”


Top Ten Takeaways from Darren Denington 1

Always test the market and do your research before jumping into anything. Calculate budgets and make sure systems are in place before the doors open.

2

Start small, as a side business if possible, and make sure there is a demand for your services.

3

4

5

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Have strong leaders in management positions who will inspire trust, promote morale, and thus productivity and profits. Don’t focus only on getting your name or logo out there; build relationships and make sure the clients you’re reaching out to are a good fit for your business. Attend food trade shows with the return on investment in mind. Make sure people notice your booth and want to approach you.

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6

When conducting speaking engagements or free coaching sessions, remember that you’re there to provide the audience with an educational session. Try to provide valuable information and advice that the audience can learn from.

7

Track your results and tweak your process or product if necessary.

8

If you’re struggling with the day-today operations of a restaurant, look at your structure and if your management team is functioning properly.

9

Don’t sign a lease on a restaurant location until you have the business side of it worked out.

10

Make sure whatever you do is for the market, not for your ego.


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Co-Packing

Understanding

Co-Packing with Ricardo Cordero

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Co-Packing

A

s a food entrepreneur, it is of paramount importance to be aware of how every penny is spent when you’re ensuring the success of your growing business. Maximizing production and minimizing cost, at times, can be nearly impossible. For some, hiring new employees is out of budget - and therefore, out of the question. Outsourcing is the saving grace for many, especially when it comes to manufacturing and packaging products. That’s where contract packers, or co-packers, come in. Like a second pair of hands, co-packers manufacture and/or package your company’s products on a contract basis. By ensuring the integrity of your product and maximizing distribution, co-packing is beginning to be a foothold in today’s industry for food entrepreneurs.

1.

What is a co-packer, co-manufacturer, or “co-man?”

In short, a co-packer is an established food or bakery manufacturing company that produces your company’s products to your specifications for a fee. Secondary packaging refers to the next layer of packaging or the packaging used to group various pre-packaged products together. A contract manufacturer, or co-man, is a manufacturer that is contracted to produce your company’s product line. In other words, it is a form of outsourcing. In the food business, a contract manufacturer is called a co-packer. Co-packing has become an important competitive advantage for manufacturers, particularly in the bakery, food and beverage markets, as it is a rich area for operational efficiencies. In the current economic climate, co-packing has become increasingly popCordero ular as a means of fulfilling large projects without taking on extra staff and equipment.

Co-man­ufacturers can save a significant amount of money on labor, materials and other expenses related to production.

Ricardo Cordero, former Executive Chef and current Manufacturing and Production Expert, sheds some light on the ins and outs of co-pack— Ricardo ing, how and why food entrepreneurs should take advantage of contract manufacturers and the questions that need to be asked when going into business with co-packers. With over 3​5 ​years of experience in the food, bakery and beverage industry, he has a firm grasp on the business aspects ranging from manufacturing to distribution. Cordero shares key routes for food entrepreneurs to take when attempting to get their product on the “shelf” when short on capital but rich with motivation. We asked the expert for insight on his bread and butter - and he didn’t pull any punches. Here’s how co-packing has become instrumental throughout the food industry in the current economic climate and new food.

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2.

How can working with a co-packer or co-manufacturer become a competitive advantage for a food entrepreneur? Manufacturing for startups/entrepreneur food and bakery products can be very expensive if you are funding them on your own. Co-manufacturers can save a significant amount of money on labor, materials and other expenses related to production. As long as the company maintains appropriate oversight, contract manufacturing can permit a company to lower


Co-Packing its production costs, maintain the quality of its production and increase profit margins. The better prepared you are before approaching co-manufacturers, the better the advantage and chances of them take you on. With co-packing, companies can take advantage of skills and connections through their contract manufacturer that they would otherwise not have access to. The contract manufacturer is likely to have relationships formed with raw material suppliers or methods of efficiency within their production. Contract manufacturers are likely to have their own methods of quality control in place that help them to detect counterfeit or damaged materials early. With co-packing, companies can focus on their core competencies by handing off the base production responsibilities to an outside company. Contract manufacturers have multiple customers that they produce for simultaneously. Because of this, they can offer reduced costs in acquiring raw materials by benefiting from economies of scale. The more units there are in one shipment, the less expensive the price per unit will be.

3.

For food entrepreneurs looking to get their product on the “shelf” without manufacturing themselves, what are a key few routes they can take exactly?

Preparation, presentation, and patience are the keys to success in the food industry. First and foremost, make sure your recipes have been perfected. Once that is done, have an outside company overview your pamphlet and product sell sheet. Then, ensure that the end recipe result is already generating sales on the product line for you. Another piece of advice is to always be open to ideas. When it comes to manufacturing, be aware that each manufacturer only has a certain number of packaging machines that can only perform certain forms of packaging. With that in mind, be open to other packaging options for your line. Remember, no one 41

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Preparation, presentation, and patience are the keys to success in the food industry. — Ricardo Cordero

wants to hear your life story or that your product will make millions. Manufacturers hear that every day, that’s why my company was formed to weed out these types for co-manufacturers. What you want to make sure of is that you are really ready for the next step. Ask yourself, is this a part-time gig or a hobby? Because if the co-manufacturer suspects either of those as a possibility, they will not take your line on. Co-manufacturers want dedication and loyalty from your brand. Loyalty and dedication shows them you will work hard to make the production line grow no matter what 24/7. Make sure to do your homework and know which co-manufacturers make comparable products line. Keep in mind each one has a set of minimum orders per SKU. And again, be well prepared, have a great presentation, and most of all have patience. If you know all the answers already - then why go through co-manufacturers? I have seen so many great ideas not get anywhere because the entrepreneur behind it was a “know it all.” I teach CEOs and presidents of manufacturing facilities to end the meeting if they have been cutoff twice mid-sentence by a potential client during a pitch. A close-minded and arrogant will be problematic as you move forward. The manufacturing terminology language is a skilled art. With many years of experience, I can ensure you that if you respect it - you will, in turn, be well respected.


Co-Packing

5.

Are there certain questions food entrepreneurs should be asking co-packers or co-manufacturers they are thinking of working with?

Co-packing has become increasingly popular as a means of fulfilling large projects without taking on extra staff and equipment. — Ricardo Cordero

4.

What would be the most cost effective way to get products on the “shelf” for those with capital restraints? Make it yourself. Go to a shared kitchen rental space and perfect your line. There are so many shared spaces now making it more accessible to begin to make and sell your product. Yes, I understand that it may be a lot of hats to wear, but I know many clients who have done that and now have multimillion dollar companies. Learn to network, contact your local Mayor’s office or religious group to see want resources they have available for entrepreneurs in your area. Partnerships and deals have come out of those shared kitchen spaces. When capital is low, you must utilize your surroundings, connections and drive to make your initial dream a reality. 42

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The number one question you need to ask is if there are any ingredients restrictions. Each manufacturer has their own set of restrictions, so it’s important to find out from the beginning. Also, what are there minimums orders per SKU? Next question to ask is about their lead times, meaning how many weeks in advance does a production order need to be put into the manufacturer for them to ​be able to ​produce your line? Following that question would be what types of safety certification does the facility have such as; HACCP, SQF, GFSI, Kosher,​ Halal, Vegan, ​UDSA, Certified Gluten-free, etc. Lastly, what are the ​payment terms? Each manufacturer sets their own payment terms. Keep in mind, many have been burned from a project like yours so be prepared to pay 50% upfront before production takes place. That is until you build a relationship with that co-manufacturer, then things will change once loyalty has been proved.

Ricardo Cordero, is a former Executive Chef, and a current Manufacturing and Production Expert with more than 35 years of experience in the food, bakery and beverage industry. Ricardo brings expert knowledge in manufacturing operations, plant and machinery design, co-packing, product reformulation and development into new machinery operations. Cordero’s chain store operations experience up to 14,000+ cafe and restaurants chains. Ricardo Cordero prides himself on manag-ing strong relationships with more than 267 manufacturers and co-packers throughout the country.


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Cookbook Corner: How to Write, Publish, and Promote Your Culinary Philosophy

As an award – winning, best-selling, author, chef, television personality, cuisine and culture expert, and educator, Amy Riolo is known for sharing history, culture, and nutrition through global cuisine. A graduate of Cornell University, Amy is considered a culinary thought leader who enjoys changing the way we think about food and the people who create it. In this column, Amy shares her insights into successful cookbook writing.

Compiling a Cookbook

F

inding compelling ways to organize content is one of my favorite parts of the whole cookbook creating process. Cookbooks have a long way in terms of presentation and layout. Determining a unique layout enables you to set yourself apart from the competition while also reinforcing the overall idea of the book and your personal philosophy. Up until recently, most cookbooks consisted of a collection of recipes which were organized by category, which was determined by the type of cuisine. So, if you were writing an American cookbook, you would probably start with some acknowledgments, then an introduction, and then chapters based on course, in this case: Appetizers Soups, Stews, and Chilies (sometimes pasta gets inserted here, sometimes it is its’ own chapter – same goes for salads) Entrees (usually animal - protein-based dishes 44

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divided into poultry, meat, game, and seafood categories) Side dishes and/or salads Desserts If the cookbook were written about French food, it would have the following chapters: Hors d’oeuvres First Courses Second Courses Vegetables Desserts If it were written about Italian food, then it would be organized this way: Antipasti (Appetizers) Primi (First Courses) Secondi (Second Courses) Contorni (Side Dishes) Insalate (Salads) Dolci (Desserts)


Cookbook Corner In each of these formats, there would sometimes be additional chapters for bread, homemade condiments, and base recipes. Sometimes there would be a glossary or a list of common kitchen utensils or ingredients. The basic premise of the organization, however, left nothing up to the imagination. These are the types of cookbooks many of us grew up with, and there is nothing wrong with organizing a book this way. Actually, sometimes when dealing with complicated recipes or concepts, it is actually beneficial to organize them in a way that the reader is used to. When I was writing my latest book, The Italian Diabetes Cookbook, for example, I chose to present the recipes in the standard Italian format. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to get creative, but I wanted the focus to be mainly on the content of the recipes (that they were healthful and Italian), and also to present the reader who might not have grown up eating in an authentic Italian fashion the way in which Italian meals are actually enjoyed. In addition, the book adheres to the American Diabetes Association dietary guidelines for diabetes-friendly meals which are usually based on an American eating style, so making the recipes adhere to the guidelines while still being appetizing and accurate was already something noteworthy, and I didn’t feel the need to introduce additional layers of complexity. These tried, but true methods of organization, work well for classic books which want to maintain tradition as well as for simplifying complicated concepts and recipes. With my first books, Arabian Delights: Recipes & Princely Entertaining Ideas from the Arabian Peninsula and Nile Style: Egyptian Cuisine 45

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and Culture, however, I created dramatically different layouts. Because Arabian Delights was written in the Arabian Peninsula, a place that many Americans don’t have the opportunity to visit, I wanted to use my book to create a platform for the region’s culture. So I created a cultural/culinary format. After the acknowledgments, introduction, and historical overview, I created three separate parts which were then divided into chapters. Part 1 was called “Palatial Feasts,” Part 2. “Special Ceremonies” and Part 3 “Simpler Delights.” Each Part was then broken down into separate chapters. Special Ceremonies, for example, contained chapters entitled “Yemeni Sabbath Luncheon” and “Ramadan Dinner” to name a few. In each chapter, I gave the cultural and historical overview of the holiday, occasion, or ceremony. Then, I gave a menu for the occasion and all of the corresponding recipes.


Cookbook Corner At the end of each chapter, there was an “Entertaining Timeline” to tie-in to the “Entertaining Ideas” portion of the subtitle which outlined how someone could recreate one of these festivities in their own home. I had never seen anything done like that before, and believe that this is the best format when introducing a culture to another through food. Nile Style: Egyptian Cuisine and Culture also has a cultural-culinary format like Arabian Delights, but it was slightly different. Because this was the first book to outline Egyptian food in history, I wanted the chapters and menus to be chronologically organized so that the reader could literally travel through time and see how food evolved in the country. Part 1 was “Ancient Festivals,” and I started out by recreating a menu from an Ancient Egyptian Nile Festival. The final Part 3 ends with a chapter called “The Revolution: Freedom, Justice, and Bread” and tells my story of being in Egypt during the revolution as well as many authentic and little-known bread recipes. The book opens with a comprehensive, first-of-itskind Egyptian culinary timeline and ends with a Where to Buy Guide and a section on places to visit while in Egypt – so that it could also be used as a guidebook for tourists. I did not create Entertaining Timelines for this book because the recipes weren’t as elaborate and entertaining was not the main focus as it was with Arabian Delights. I also did not group the recipes together in categories, as I did with The Italian Diabetes Cookbook because I believed 46

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that since this cuisine was lesser known to Americans, that full menus to recreate would be more effective. When I was asked to write The Ultimate Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, I chose to organize the book and its chapters the same way in which The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid is presented. That way, the largest chapter is based on plantbased foods (which we should be eating the most), and the smallest chapter is dedicated to Meats and Sweets (which the diet recommends eating very sparingly). I believed that this layout would reinforce the tenants of the Mediterranean Diet and make maintain the lifestyle easier for readers. In 2013, Chef Luigi Diotaiuti and I wrote The Al Tiramisu Restaurant Cookbook: An Elevated Approach to Authentic Italian Cuisine. The main purpose of the book was to serve as a memoire and also to tell the story of Washington DC’s “most authentic” restaurant. We also organized this book chronologically, but instead of starting in the beginning, we started in the present day in the first chapter and then went back to Luigi’s childhood in the second chapter and continued to fill in the rest chronologically. Recipe and concepts were organized in accordance with the various times of his life and stages in the restaurant’s development, instead of all together at the end. This way,


Cookbook Corner the reader can truly get a feel for how both the food and the story developed together. This is my favorite way of organizing a memoire cookbook. As you can see, there are as many ways to organize a cookbook as there are to cook a chicken. It is up to the author to decide which layout will work the best for the reader while underlining the voice and scope of the book. When you are compiling your cookbook, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is the content of this book so complicated that if I present the content in a new/innovative way, it will confuse the readers? If so, stick with traditional formats and use verbiage that is as easy to understand as possible.

2. What are my key messages of the book?

If one of your key messages is that you are “de-mystifying” a certain cuisine or cooking style, then an easy to follow format is crucial. If your key message is that cooking is fun, then the book should be organized in a fun to read format. If one of your key messages is to tell theculinary history of a place, then a chronological format may be best. If you are introducing readers to a cuisine they are not familiar with, how could you lay the book out in order to reinforce the local traditions?

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3. If I were the reader, and I may not be very knowledgeable about the topic, what would be the best way for it to be presented? Imagine you are a teacher presenting a lesson plan. That type of information should be incorporated into the book.

4. Is this a memoire? If so, chronological layouts work well.

5. How would I like to see a cookbook organized? There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but if you have a burning desire to see cookbooks organized in a particular way, then that is probably what you should go with – just be sure it matches your content and voice. Asking yourself some of these questions will help to get yourself on track. If you are unsure of which style to choose, you could write a brief synopsis of each and present it to your friends and co-workers for feedback. Their comments may even give additional inspiration. If you work with a traditional publisher, they may also have ideas about how your book should be put together. If you are self-publishing, however, the sky is the limit. Enjoy the creative process knowing that the thought and attention that you invest in organizing your book’s content will make a huge difference in the final product.


Led by chef Marcus Samuelsson as board co-chair, Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) transforms the lives of underserved high school students around the country by helping them pursue their culinary dreams. C-CAP, founded by culinary educator Richard Grausman, prepares talented teens for college and careers in the restaurant and hospitality industry through its enrichment programs including job training, paid internships, scholarships, and college and career advising. Who does C-CAP serve?

How can I get involved?

17,000+ students 250 public high school teachers 168 schools 5,000+ industry partners

Mentor a Student Support our Programs and Scholarships Donate Products or Equipment Host a Fundraising Event

@CCAPINC For information or to get involved: contact us at info@ccapinc.org, 212-974-7111, or visit www.ccapinc.org


Success Story

h t e b a Eliz

r e n k Fal IL

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Success Story

Chef

Elizabeth Falkner realized she wanted to be a chef when the early food scene was calling. Originally a fine art film major, Falkner moved to San Francisco to attend college and found herself in the middle of a food revolution. Captivated by the new ways in which chefs were beginning to view food, while simultaneously serving food in some of her film installations, Falkner realized that she wanted to work in restaurants. She worked at Café Claude before entering into fine dining at Masa’s with Chef Julian Serrano. Working with Traci Des Jardins at acclaimed restaurants Elka and Rubicon followed before Falkner opened her own place, the revolutionary Citizen Cake. Quickly gaining attraction vor combinations and desserts, Falkner was the culinary landa restaurant called cating to New York open restaurants dependent first-

and accolades for her flaunique, adventuroushelping to change scape. She opened Orson before reloCity in 2012 to owned by two intime operators.

Falkner is an author of two critically acclaimed cookbooks with a memoir in the works and has received numerous awards, including being nominated for “Outstanding Pastry Chef” by the James Beard Foundation in 2005. Falkner has competed and served as a judge on a number cooking competition television shows. For the last eight years, she served on the board of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs (WCR) – an organization connecting, promoting, and honoring women in the food and beverage industry – and was president of the board of directors from 2014-2015. In this interview, Falkner spoke to us about taking the leap, handling the business side of a culinary venture, taking care of your own body, and bacon-onion scones. 50

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Success Story

Background Growing up in Los Angeles, Falkner moved to San Francisco and finished college at the San Francisco Art Institute majoring in fine art film. During that time, she worked part-time at Williams-Sonoma and consequently was exposed to a variety of restaurants in the area just as the farm-to-table revolution was getting underway. “The food revolution really started in Northern California,” Falkner said, “and I felt it was kind of another kind of an art movement. Food can be an artistic medium, and it was calling me.” The change in how chefs looked at ingredients and the dynamic personalities that were initiating change at the time inspired Falkner to pursue a career in the culinary industry. “My drive wasn’t to be a famous chef, but that there was so much technique and discipline to learn and eventually I would find it to be a super creative outlet,” she told us, “At the start, I put my head down and worked.” 51

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Food can be an artistic medium, and it was calling me. — Elizabeth Falkner

After a year of working at Café Claude, a small French bistro with limited kitchen and space, she was hungry to learn more. Falkner moved on to Masa’s, then the best French restaurant in the area. Masa’s was an intense, classic French brigade-style kitchen where she credits getting the best culinary foundation. About a year later, she dined at a restaurant where Traci Des Jardins was the chef de cuisine and fell in love with the food, but found the desserts to be lacking. Falkner drew sketches of dessert concepts she felt would match Elka


Success Story abstract,” Falkner told us, “I made stuff that looked like modern art I had grown up around. That is my background, my dad is an abstract painter, and I grew up in studios, muElizabeth Falkner seums, and galleries.” Taking the concept of plated desserts and applying it to the pastry shop, Citizen Cake also incorporated unique flavor combinations. The shop offered one of Falkner’s original creations: the bacon and onion scones that she had come up with on a weekend trip with friends. “No one was putting bacon in any kind of pastry at that time,” Falkner laughed, “which is so funny because these days there’s an overwhelming amount of bacon in everything.” With a wood-fire oven to bake pizzas, artisan breads and several signature cakes, Citizen Cake became one of the most popular spots in the San Francisco area.

The moment when rent is disproportionate to everything else, it’s so painful. —

at the Miyako Hotel in San Francisco and approached them about a job. Though only a pastry chef’s assistant, Des Jardins was impressed and took her on board. Falkner would later join Des Jardins when she opened Rubicon. Rubicon was met with critical acclaim. Des Jardins’ new California-French style was fitting for Falkner’s unique desserts. As Falkner started receiving requests to make special occasion cakes, she eventually branched out to open her first venture: Citizen Cake. “I decided to make my cakes and other bakery desserts that were more like my plated desserts, which were more sculptural and 52

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Though Citizen Cake and Falkner quickly developed a devoted following, Falkner struggled with her location and the business partnership, eventually relocating to the Hayes Valley district. Citizen Cake remained for ten years until 2010, when she relocated again due to ongoing landlord & real estate issues. Meanwhile, Falkner also opened Orson in 2008 in an old steel foundry warehouse with her then life-partner. By 2011, the industry landscape had changed dramatically, and after separating from her life-partner, Falkner closed both Citizen Cake and Orson and relocated to New York City. A pizzeria in Brooklyn followed, and then Corvo Bianco on the Upper West Side.


Success Story

I decided to make my cakes and other bakery desserts that were more like my plated desserts, which were more sculptural and abstract. — Elizabeth Falkner

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Success Story

Launching a Sweet Adventure Falkner kept a close eye on what others in the industry were doing, prior to venturing out on her own. She quickly recognized a need for desserts that went beyond the usual carrot and German chocolate cakes that one can find in any bakery. “Someone needed to do something way more exciting than that,” she thought. Though her ideas were sometimes big, she recalled starting small, growing from six to eight employees at the original Citizen Cake location and then up to a hundred amongst the bakery, café, and two restaurants over 15 years. Falkner says she learned early on that restaurants and bakeries operate with very different margins. Bakeries usually lower on food cost, but higher on labor, and restaurants having the ability to sell liquor and wine to help with overall margins. Falkner also noticed the restaurant industry change over time in San Francisco and beyond. By 2007, taxes, city-mandated health insurance, high minimum wage, and no tip credit for front of the house service staff, all skewed the balance to the point where making enough to survive became difficult, let alone turning profits. To add insult to injury, once the stock market crumbled in 2008, things became very difficult. As Falkner recalls, “we scaled back and managed for another three years but it was eventually impossible and a losing battle. I learned a lot through all of that and brought that knowledge with me to New York to help these first-time operators launch two different restaurants.” “You’ve got to operate a business by numbers,” Falkner said, “you can’t just fly by the seat of your pants every day. You have to sit down every single day and see how it’s doing.” Falkner points to bookkeeping and business organization as critical to operating a restaurant, likening the back end as “having your own personal Wall Street in your office.” With vendors coming 54

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My drive wasn’t to be a famous chef, but that there was so much technique and discipline to learn and eventually I would find it to be a super creative outlet. — Elizabeth Falkner


Success Story and going and invoices coming in, Falkner emphasizes that with any culinary establishment, balancing cash flow is crucial. She believes that using terms to balance cash and inventory, and determining your needs on slower days versus busier days are the boring yet essential parts to running a business smoothly. “It’s really micromanaging the ebbs and flows of the guests and how you staff it and doing your payables,” she said, “that’s the key.” Another critical aspect of operating a restaurant? Location and the deal for the space. Falkner points out that a business-savvy entrepreneur must negotiate rent and what

You’ve got to operate a business by numbers, you can’t just fly by the seat of your pants every day. — Elizabeth Falkner

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landlords will do to help build-out the space. “Since I’ve opened several restaurants, I’ve been in locations where landlords are looking to do something, and I say, ‘yeah, great, but you have to do more of the build-out work,’” she said, “because doing all the plumbing and all the electricity is really expensive, and it’s going to stay in that location, and I can’t take it with me, and then and another restaurant operator is going to come in and do it for a lot less, so it’s not acceptable for a chef or restaurateur to pay for everything in a build-out.” Falkner notes that owners should always negotiate rent as well. She mentioned that as a celebrated chef, she is aware that opening a restaurant “can change the entire block.” It’s an intangible benefit that landlords often need to be made aware of, and one that she recommends using as leverage. “The moment when rent is disproportionate to everything else, it’s so painful,” she said, “and I’ve been there.”


SSuccess u c c e s s Story Story

Calculated Risk Though Falkner was able to fill a clear void in the pastry and dessert niche with Citizen Cake, she still believes that any venture will be a calculated risk. She advises asking friends and contacts about margins, and how they run their establishments. “Chefs and restaurateurs are pretty giving people,” she said, “the more you understand about how other people are operating, the better.” Waste is also a key factor to be taken into consideration when operating a business. Falkner gave the example of almond croissants, a clever invention of taking day old croissants and stuffing with almond paste and rebaking. “You cannot throw away butter and sugar and flour, those are expensive ingredients together with the labor that went into laminating those croissants,” she said, “you have to figure out what else you can do with the crumbs.” The emphasis on reducing waste, however, has given rise to more creative chefs who are designing smarter menus. “I want people to be way more creative about how they handle waste management,” she said, “because that’s just money and energy.”

Finding the Funds When we asked Falkner about finding funding for Citizen Cake, she emphasized that at the time, she had around 7 years of restaurant experience and the need for creative desserts was already present. Her landlord-partner had already built out the space with a coffee roaster, and Falkner had to buy and install equipment, a wood burningoven, and a display case. This limited her costs to around $75,000, which she raised from family and friends. When Citizen Cake was relocated to a new location to the Hayes Valley district, the concept changed to include a restaurant and bar. Falkner worked with an attorney and a CPA to write up a business plan and tried to negotiate with landlords who were demanding an 56

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Success Story exorbitant rent. Though the amount Falkner had to raise for Citizen Cake was substantial, the success of the first Citizen Cake allowed her to find enough investors for a build-out costing around $800,000. Seven years later, Falkner took out personal loans to refurbish the space as it was wearing out. Meanwhile, Falkner was also working on opening Orson, which was funded by investors and bank loans, all just before the stock market crashed in 2008. “It was such a hard time,” she said, “it was nonstop. I went through super high times in capitalizing and making things work, and super lows, too, where we had tried everything, and I mean everything.” Falkner had experienced the unexpected, blackouts during one Christmas season and the stock market crash causing customers to spending less and making business less viable. She had to change her concept from of a more contemporary and modernist cuisine to more a more casual everyday fare, so she decided to eventually close Orson and Citizen Cake in 2011.

Television and social media may help promote you, but it’s not the success point, it shouldn’t be. — Elizabeth Falkner 57

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Paralleling Daily Life on Television Despite her multiple television appearances and highly rated reviews, Falkner states that she has never consciously developed a personal brand. “I’m just trying to have some integrity and be thoughtful about what I’m presenting to people, and have fun with it,” she said, “and when I do that, it’s a very successful equation.” When Falkner opened her first Citizen Cake location, cooking shows were limited to the occasional daily news segment. Food Network and Bravo entered culinary on television a little while later. Falkner assisted in a pastry competition for the Coupe du Monde but wasn’t interested in pursuing that side of pastry. However, when approached by Food Network to compete in the Food Network Challenge, she recalls the experience as an exciting one. “I had so much fun with that,” she said, “being able to do my thing on a grand scale, on television.”


Success Story

I’m just trying to have some integrity and be thoughtful about what I’m presenting to people, and have fun with it, and when I do that, it’s a very successful equation. — Elizabeth Falkner

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Success Story Next, Bravo asked Falkner to be a judge on their new food competition show, Top Chef, which was to be filmed in a bondage store. “I was thinking, I don’t know if that’s a smart career move, but sure, I want to do that,” she told us. Falkner knew she had the skills to back up her title. After the experience, she went on to love cooking competition shows and has been on Iron Chef America, Top Chef Masters, Chopped All-Stars, The Next Iron Chef, and Super Chefs as the runner-up. At this point, Falkner has appeared on over 40 cooking competition shows. Yet, she never considered television as the goal. “My own personal brand has developed because I’ve been able to use television to parallel what I’m doing on a daily basis in a restaurant,” she said, “I think that’s something to think about.” She also points out that television is fairly fickle, and a career as a television chef may very well be short lived. “Television and social media may help promote you,” Falkner says, “but it’s not the success point, it shouldn’t be.”

At the same time, Falkner cautions that celebrity chef status can attract people who want to use that fame for their own reasons. The plus side, however, is that Falkner is given opportunities to work with a variety of brands who are looking for a chef that both enjoys the product and can get creative with it. “I’m actually a really food-geeky kind of person, and an artistic person,” Falkner told us, “so you give me the product, I’ll come up with a bunch of stuff that really isn’t typical but is doable for other people.” Falkner describes product sponsorship as a “win-win situation” as she enjoys exploring food and how to use it in different ways. Another bonus of being a recognizable chef is that when she visits restaurants, chefs and cooks will ask her to taste their food. “It’s such an honor, and I love seeing what other chefs are working on,” she said.

Being Different When we asked what Falkner had wished she had known at the beginning of her career from an entrepreneurial standpoint, she pointed out it’s an impossible question. “I don’t think I try to think outside of the box,” she said, “I just do. There are tons of chefs making really cool pastry these days and inventive food in bakery concepts and hip cafes, but I am somebody who has helped change that landscape.” She has also always loved using savory ingredients in pastry and pastry techniques on the savory side. “I still do that, constantly,” she said, “I was at an event and just made these carnitas with an orange blossom, bourbon, Habanero, and barbecue sauce. Orange blossom is orange flower water that I’d typically use in pastry applications, but I love it as an ingredient in savory as well. The only reason I’m so comfortable with all these ingredients is because I’ve always accepted that I’m a pastry chef and a savory chef, simultaneously.” Falkner encourages young cooks to embrace both pastry and savory, not only to understand the fundamentals but to also ask where else it can go.

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Success Story

“Food is Life” As a young cook, Falkner recalled how, every night at staff meals, one of the first chefs she worked for would say, “food is life,” almost like a blessing. Though the meaning eluded her then, she pointed out how the phrase very neatly encapsulates what it means to be a chef. “I feel like I’m still learning so much,” she said, “it’s such a vast study, ingredients and all the things that humans can eat on the planet. I want people to be adventurous as diners and as makers.” At the same time, Falkner emphasizes the importance of getting involved in food policy, and how changing how we look at food is still an elusive goal. Food waste on multiple levels, efficiencies, distribution, hunger, subsidies, etc. Falkner believes that there is a lot to do in the food industry outside of opening a restaurant. Falkner also cautions that while opening a restaurant is rewarding, it is less than glamorous. “It’s really hard work, it’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone,” she said, “television makes it look glamorous, but those are just moments. It’s like being on a football team, the football game is fun, there are fans and you’re on television, but you have to work really hard to be in that position.” However, for those hungry enough to open a restaurant, Falkner advises taking care of your body. “The lifestyle in the past was sex, drugs, and rock & roll kind of lifestyle, including some pretty bad habits of overeating and smoking and partying all night. “When you’re 40 or 50, and you’re still running a restaurant, you’re going to be like ‘what am I doing?” Falkner emphasizes that physical activity to let off steam is critical. “You gotta do something that detoxifies and takes out some of the stress, because if you can do yoga or pick up running or whatever it is that you do,” she said, “that’s going to help you do better than just survive through the years in this business.” Photo Credit: Georgina Richardson 60

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I’ve always accepted that I’m a pastry chef and a savory chef, simultaneously. — Elizabeth Falkner


Top Ten Takeaways from Elizabeth Falkner 1

Don’t limit yourself to just pastry or savory; studying both can help you understand each of them better, and make you better at both.

2

Have big ideas, but start small.

3

Ask your contacts about margins, how they operate a business and learn as much as you can about the business side.

4

5

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Pay attention to your back end; use terms to balance out cash flows and think about supply and demand on a daily basis. Don’t be afraid to ask landlords to help more in funding a build out of a space and always try to negotiate rent to a reasonable amount.

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6

Keep an eye on waste to reduce expenses.

7

You can develop a personal brand organically by using television and social media to parallel what you do on a daily basis; don’t make television your success point.

8

Look for a niche that your skills can fill, and pay attention to what’s going on in your industry, locally, nationally, and internationally.

9

Food is life; there is so much out there to learn, so keep studying.

10

Take care of your body to help you survive – both physically and mentally – in this business.


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Local SEO

Local SEO:

Boost Your Online Presence & Get More Customers By: Julie Murphy Horner

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Local SEO

S

earch engine optimization, or SEO, is a large and complicated beast. Given the number of companies whose sole focus is to understand and implement SEO strategies, it’s not surprising that the majority of business owners have no idea where to start. Mastering the details of SEO can be hard, but the basic concepts are easy. This article will focus on local SEO, a branch of SEO that is important for businesses that service a local geographical area, such as caterers or personal chefs. With the rise of mobile device use, local SEO has also become critical for restaurants and breweries to attract users on places like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Apple Maps, or Zomato, as well as to their own websites. More and more potential customers reach for their phones to collect the information that will guide their choices. Instant search results equal instant gratification.

The function of SEO is to make your enterprise more prominent when search results flash onto a potential custom­er’s screen. — Julie Murphy Horner

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Internet search engines filter through countless bits of information to help users find what they are looking for. The function of SEO is to make your enterprise more prominent when search results flash onto a potential customer’s screen. You can influence the results of a search engine inquiry because the search engines themselves are programmed to sort, filter, prioritize, and organize the information they retrieve from the Internet. By knowing how search engines go about this process, you can make your information more attractive. SEO is, therefore, a critical component of your marketing plan. Ideally, you would begin with a professional assessment of your current SEO situation, including a competitive analysis. As part of this process, you would make sure that your website is informative, attractive, fast, and mobile-friendly. As you make any necessary upgrades, it’s important to track the results with a tool such as Google Analytics. The primary purpose of this article, however, is to suggest actionable items that you can implement right now, by yourself, with minimal expenditure of time and resources. Search engines, such as Google or Bing, look for citations (mentions or listings of a business) across the web to validate or correct their indexes. The more citations, especially on relevant and quality websites, the more trust the search engines will place in a business. The greater the amount of trust, the higher the listingin the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Listing accuracy across citations is critical, as this also boosts a business’s trust factor with the search engines. The holy grail of listing accuracy is your NAP - Name, Address, and Phone number. I can’t stress how imperative it is that these three business details are complete, accurate, and consistent over every citation, as well as on your website and social media pages. So, review your current listings and be certain that the all-important NAP is


Local SEO

Missing information – such as your menu or your hours of operation – can easily cost you a patron. — Julie Murphy Horner

consistent across all platforms. If you do nothing else, do this. Also, delete any duplicate listings you come across, as these will hurt your search engine rankings. As you review your citations and add new ones, keep in mind that search engines give higher weight to listings that include quantities of useful information. That information is even more important to prospective customers. When someone is deciding where to enjoy a meal, menus, hours, location, and photos of appetizing food are huge factors. I rarely visit a restaurant I have found online unless I can view the menu first. Missing information – such as your menu or your hours of operation – can easily cost you a patron. Many searches are done on mobile phones by people looking, at the last minute, for a nice restaurant. When the customer wants instant results, you are one tap of the back button from losing a sale. And consider how frustrating it is for a customer to drive to a restaurant that is open per a Yelp listing, but closed in actuality. Or, worse yet, consider your frustration if that same listing turns 65

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customers away by incorrectly stating that you are closed. Reviews are also a big part of local SEO, but they are beyond your control on your listings. However, you can control how you react to those reviews. In addition to monitoring your citations for reviews, it is important that you respond to them, especially if they are negative. A concerned response to a negative listing might help get that customer back in the door, as well as assure others who read the review that customer service and satisfaction are big priorities for you. There are review monitoring systems available to help with this. In the quest for consistency, it can be helpful to put together a spreadsheet of all the information to include in the citations. For reference, you can download a copy of our Local SEO Citation Worksheet. Here you can enter pertinent information such as your address, business hours, business category, and the link to your menu, to name a few. Reference this document while filling out each citation.


Local SEO backlinks. Every citation you list in the Set up a business account in both Google local directories gives you a backlink, and there My Business and Bing Places for Business to are other creative ways to obtain more qualcreate your local listings. Both sites have deity links. Search online for local associations tailed instructions on how to go through this you can join, as well as your Chamber of Comprocess. To verify your business, you will remerce. Get involved in a charity event, ceive a document in the mail with a veror list a discount on Groupon. Edification code, which you will then ucational institutions are highadd to your listing. Here too, Mastering ly rated by the search enmake sure your business inthe details of SEO gines, so a backlink from a formation is accurate and can be hard, but the basic “.edu” website increases complete, including your your trust factor. Try business category. Gooconcepts are easy. offering student and gle Search and Google — Julie Murphy Horner faculty discounts, or Maps both pull inforfind an online student mation from business newsletter to sponsor. listings in Google My Invite food bloggers Business; likewise, Bing into your restaurant or Search pulls from Bing business. Set up proPlaces for Business. files on all the relevant If the thought of checksocial media channels ing and updating every local where your ideal customer SEO citation is daunting, keep is likely to be found. Be genin mind that the search engines erous with press releases to the also pull data from four major Data local media on any news about your Aggregators: Axciom, Factual, Infogroup, and company. Neustar Localeze (in the United States). You can start by submitting to these Data Aggregators first. Each website has a link to update or add your listing to their databases.

If you run out of ideas, you can use OpenSiteExplorer to search the backlinks your competitors are using.

Summary of Recommendations for Citation Optimization: Fix NAP errors on your current citations Delete duplicate citations Complete your current citations Build new, complete citations Monitor and respond to reviews Setup Google My Business and Bing Places for Business Distribute data via Local Data Aggregators

Summary of Recommendations for Backlink Strategies: Listings in local associations and the Chamber of Commerce Charity event involvement or sponsorship Groupon Educational institutions or online student newsletters Food bloggers Social media Press releases to local news outlets Competitor backlink listings

One more important factor in your local SEO strategy—backlinks. Backlinks are just what the name implies: links from other sites back to your website. The higher the ratings of the sites that link back to your website, the more those backlinks benefit your SERP. There are actions you can easily take to develop high-rated 66

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Even though these may not be the easy, actionable steps I promised, some website optimization strategies are too important to leave out. You can do several things on your website to help your local SEO rankings.


Local SEO Fast loading Targeted keywords in content, title tags, meta descriptions, and headings Links and interacts with social media Schema markup

One more important factor in your local SEO strategy—backlinks. — Julie Murphy Horner

Mobile responsiveness and fast load times help with your SERP. Targeted keywords in your content, title tags, meta descriptions, and headings tied with social media and organic search also boost these rankings. Your citations can link the driving directions, reviews, and menus on your website, further pushing you up the infamous search-engine rankings. Another tip is to use schema markup, or structured data. This is code on your site that tells the search engine not just the words on your page, but what the words mean, which helps with search accuracy. This may not help boost your SERP, but it can drive more traffic to your site because of the additional information the markup provides in the search. For the culinary world, a new, exciting Schema.org release is the restaurant menu markup. This means your individual menu items can be tagged with what they are, which could help with future search engine results. Summary of Recommendations for Website Optimization: Mobile-friendly or preferable mobile-optimized and responsive design 67

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Google has both a mobile-friendly and apagespeedtool that anyone can use. Does your site have a responsive design, independent of the device it is viewed on? Look at it on your phone and see how easy it is for you to get around and find the information your customers want. Modern websites are built on a CMS (customer management system) platform, allowing you to make changes on your own. Many also have ways to add code,such as targeted keywords or schema. If you are not sure if your website has these features, the actionable step here is to get in touch with your web developer. Web presence is a critical marketing tool possibly the most important marketing tool for 21st-century businesses. You are likely to invest much time, trouble, and money to develop a website that presents your business in an attractive light. Keep in mind that search engines control the process by which prospective customers find that website. For best results, adapt to their methodology. Begin now with easy action steps to make your website more visible to the search engines, and enjoy a boost in your online rankings, as well as your customer base.

As founder and lead strategist of Middle Child Media, Julie Murphy Horner helps culinary professionals boost revenue with targeted digital strategies. To do this, she puts to work her years of experience as web developer, online marketer, writer, speaker, and committed foodie. Mainly, she loves good food so the rest comes easy! Connect with Julie on LinkedIn or visit her website at MiddleChildMedia.com.


Business Bites Chef Deb is an award-winning, best-selling author, sought after speaker & Senior Certified Personal Chef. For a decade, she has helped chefs across the country level-up their culinary business by teaching the same proven strategies used to grow her 6-figure personal chef company. In her column, Chef Deb will show various ways to transition from behind the stove to a true CEO and attract ideal clients to begin making the money you deserve.

Tips for Creating a Business Card People Will Actually Keep

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lthough we are moving more and more into a paperless age, a business card is still a main staple of any business. However, almost every business card I see is lackluster and underwhelming.

Since business cards can be so instrumental in spreading the word about your business, I’ve always wondered why people don’t put more effort into their business cards. After all, a business card is like a first impression of your business.

You probably know what I’m talking about. Do you remember the last time you were handed a business card at a networking event? It was probably a typical 3.5 x 2 rectangle business card. You might have glanced at it once or twice to write down the person’s number and then threw in the trash.

Don’t you want your business to come across unique, professional and instantly communicate what your business is all about?

I think this is a shame. Your business card is meant to be a little piece of you that people hold onto and that others will have a chance to see as well. 69

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Making a good first impression is especially critical if you are trying to get a new client or establish a new partnership. If you’ve ever gotten one of my business cards, you probably noticed that there is something different about them. They have an almost cardboard-like texture to them, so when I go to hand someone my business card,


Business Bites

Making a good first impression is especially critical if you are trying to get a new client or establish a new partnership. — Deb Cantrell

they are a bit surprised. Why does this matter? It matters because I created an experience around getting my business card that they will remember. Having a business card that people remember is not cheap though, it will cost you a pretty penny. I pay around $1 per card for my Moo business cards. I know, it’s definitely more than the average $0.20 per business card you would pay, but if you are serious about growing your business and creating something memorable, this investment is worth it. Want to know the extent that some companies will go to make their business cards memorable? I was reading about one company in England that has diamond-encrusted business cards that cost $1500 per card. I’m not kidding! Obviously, that is a bit ridiculous, and none 70

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of us could afford that, but the point is, in this digital age, you stand out by offering a tangible experience. It’s different than what most people are doing, and so that is why people want to hold onto it longer. Now that I’ve explained the reasoning behind investing in a more expensive business card let’s talk about the different elements that make up a business card worth keeping. Use a special finish — While most business cards have an all-too-familiar paper feel, there are quite a few options out there. You can get foil blocking, UV coating (very glossy) metallic inks, embossed, textured, and even a matte “velvet” finish. Of course, this makes the business cards quite a bit more expensive, but if you’re trying to stand out, this is a sure way to do so.


Business Bites Die cut your card — Not only does the feel or texture of your card help you stand out, but so does a unique shape. You can get your cards that are “die cut” into different shapes, like squares, circles, letters, etc. The possibilities are endless! I have even seen some culinary business cards with a bite out of them! Pretty cool. Include an image of you — What I see a lot of business owners forget to include on their cards is an image of themselves! For me, I remember faces better than I remember names. If they can associate a name with a face, they will most likely remember you better. Of course, if your culinary business is a restaurant or cafe, you probably don’t need an image of you, but if you are a personal chef and you have more of a personal brand, then a picture of you is essential to include.

If you have room, feel free to put your social media handles as well but keep in mind the more text you have on there, the less appealing it will be to your beholders. Hire a graphic designer — If you learn nothing else from these tips, I hope you learn this one thing. Hire a graphic designer to design your cards. As chefs, most of us have no design talent which means you should really hire a professional who can make you a customized card that stands out.

You won’t have to deal with the headache of creating one yourself, and you will end up being a lot happier with it because they understand design principles and what looks good.

— Deb Cantrell

I’m not saying that you should do this instead, but do what fits your brand and try to add some color where you can! It will instantly catch the eye when it’s sitting on their desk. Keep the information simple — I really hate seeing business cards that are crowded with text. There’s not much space to work with on a entrepreneurial chef

Typically, I include my name, title in the company, number, email, and website. That’s it! Of course, if you have a brick and mortar it’s probably a good idea to put your physical address on there too.

A business card is like a first impression of your business.

Bold colors — How many times have you seen the same old white business card? Why not have a black background, bright accents or other bold colors that are on “brand” with your business? Surely a card with a bold black background and white text is going to stand out vs. a white one with black text.

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business card, which makes it even more critical to only put essential information on there.

Find a freelancer on Upwork or feel free to ask me for recommendations too. Whoever is designing your business card should also be commissioned to design your other marketing material like your letterhead, menu templates, etc. so everything looks “on brand” and is consistent. Need some inspiration so you can better communicate what you want to your graphic designer? Browse business cards on Pinterest, I guarantee you will find some creative inspiration there!


The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs As The World’s Oldest & Largest Culinary Society We Have More Than A Little In Common Join Our Prestigious Network of Professional Members And Open The Doors To: - Personal and Professional Growth - Worldwide Forum in which Professional Excellence is Recognized - Partnership in Raising Standards for Service and Food - Sharing Creativity and Innovation by Pushing The Status Quo - Marketing Opportunities for Member Establishments - Opportunity to Serve as a Host Venue - Competitions for Young Professionals - Chefs and Sommeliers

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Success Story

Sammy D av i s

The Art of the Comeback

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Success Story

Failure

can prevent aspiring food entrepreneurs from ever pursuing their dream, and can nail the coffin shut for those who took the plunge. But for others, failure can be the driving force behind their success. As a token of reassurance that success is possible when a dream and insatiable hunger for growth is present, we interviewed Chef Sammy Davis, because everyone loves a good comeback story.

Davis’ career has been one of trial and error – and now sweet redemption. In 2012, Davis won the title of “Chopped” champion, after his second attempt, during the Season 10 Redemption episode of Food Network’s hit show. Davis takes pride in his resilience after a tasting defeat and working systematically to elevate his game as a chef and entrepreneur – and rightfully so. This proved to be true when his initial endeavor of opening a restaurant failed. Rather than abandon his dreams, Davis kept his ear to the ground awaiting the opportunity to open his restaurant Milk & Honey once again – and this time for good. Now with three locations and one on the way, Davis’ restaurants are buzzing merely through word of mouth from loyal patrons. 74

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With raving Yelp reviews that keep the seats filled and local appetites satisfied, Milk & Honey has been met with acclaim. Serving solely breakfast and brunch options, Davis created his menu around his signature Shrimp ’n’ Grits dish. The “Chopped” champion harps on the fact that his passion for cooking has led him to this point, and will continue to be a driving force for menu options in the future. Davis’ journey is a testament to what hard work and perseverance can achieve, especially when starting at the bottom in the food industry. With Davis’ success today, it’s hard to imagine him having a strained relationship with food as a child. However, the chef quickly learned that utilizing his creativity and drive could change his life completely – but first, there would come missteps. For some, failure can put an end to a lifelong dream, but for Davis, it was only a chapter in his story of triumph. Taking advantage of opportunities and staying humble, even throughout success, are key factors in the chef’s comeback. Plus, with co-owner and partner Monique Rose by his side, Davis has been able to focus on what really matters – the menu. In our interview, Davis shared invaluable lessons learned while opening his restaurant – including what worked, what he’d change given a second chance and plans for the future. He confirms that networking and starting from scratch are methods that still ring true today for anyone seeking success as a food entrepreneur. Furthermore, Davis gives insights on the relationship between launching a restaurant or food business, and the role social media plays in spreading the word to the masses. Finally, although Davis strongly believes in the menu speaking especially from a marketing perspective, he talks about the value of investing time and effort into relationships with not only guests but business partners as well.


Success Story

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industry?

Can you share a little of your background and what attracted you to the culinary

As a young kid growing up in North Philly - under the not-so-normal food conditions - my relationship with food had always been a challenge for me. It wasn’t always readily available, and oftentimes I went without having a single meal. So naturally, I took a fascination with food. Because food wasn’t easily accessible, it became almost mystical. Eventually, I just took the opportunity to be able to use my creativity and create food how I see it. It has proved to be a great outlet for me.

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What has influenced and/or helped develop your culinary style?

Ironically, corner Chinese food shops in urban America have had a huge influence on my culinary style. I like simplicity, so being that the food is very straight forward but somehow never falls short, it really appeals to me. Their food uses simple ingredients, simple preparation techniques and it has good flavor. It was there that I first realized that simple was best.

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Once that first month of rent came up, and I was able to pay it, I realized that if I focus and put forth the effort every day, I could really do this. — Sammy Davis


Success Story

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What was your first entrepreneurial venture, and how did this come about?

My first venture was catering. Catering and private in-home dining services. Going into people’s homes and cooking for them in their own kitchen, their own environment is still to this day a very lucrative and successful venture for me.

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When did you take the entrepreneurial leap full-time and what was this period like for you? In 2001, I quit a job as an executive chef and decided to go full time with my catering. With only one paycheck in hand, being that I quit on payday, it was very rough. I had a family to support, including a newborn child, so it was more challenging than I could imagine. Quitting my job and relying totally on my own devices to earn money meant I had to go look for a client every single day. It is that exact hunger and drive that stayed with me throughout my entire career, no matter how much success I’ve had.

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Were there fears you had to overcome when making the entrepreneurial leap, and if so, how did you get through them? My biggest fear was wondering how I was going to pay my bills without a steady income. 76

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The thought of not being able to fulfill my obligations as a leader and provider was overwhelmingly scary to me at times. Once that first month of rent came up, and I was able to pay it, I realized that if I focus and put forth the effort every day, I could really do this. It didn’t seem so scary and unattainable after that.

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For your new restaurant, when or where did the idea begin?

The idea originally began in 2006 when I was sitting at home, and I saw coffee bars and breakfast places starting to bloom. The name itself just came from wanting to be in a great place - The Land of Milk and Honey. I was in a bad place and simply wanted to be in a land flowing with great things. A place where I could put out great food and make people happy. It also came forth again as vindication from my first failure with my restaurant Milk & Honey years ago in Atlanta. If anyone saw my Chopped episodes on the Food Network, they know that my story is one of comebacks; of always coming back stronger and better than before. Milk & Honey is my redemption yet again.


Success Story

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How long did it take to go from idea to open for business and what was this process like for you both personally and professionally? Once I had the idea to bring Milk & Honey back, it was about two months from idea to opening the doors. It was a pretty quick process once the space was open and available to me, I worked very quickly to get things done. The opening took a serious toll on my life both personally and professionally because I had to rearrange things drastically in a short amount of time. In order to make this dream come true, I had to move 700 miles away during my youngest daughter’s senior year in high school. From that moment, I think I saw my family maybe three times for the first 6 months since the restaurant’s opening. Being thrown into a long-distance relationship with my family so suddenly was challenging - it still is to this day. Professionally, the process has been taxing because I had to give up a client I’ve had for years in order to focus on Milk & Honey. The transition has been a lot to handle, but I know that it will all be worth it in the end because I’m making my dream come true. 77

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If anyone saw my Chopped episodes on the Food Network, they know that my story is one of comebacks; of always coming back stronger and better than before. — Sammy Davis

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to life?

On a granular level, what were some of the steps you took to bring the restaurant

There were a lot of steps to be taken before we opened the doors. I’m a big believer in doing what you do and doing it well. I am a Chef first and foremost. My major focus was the food, of course, and then came the restaurant’s aesthetic. Making sure the décor was on point, and everything was functional was vital to set us up for success. I left the business items such as the setup of vendors, utilities, website, promotional materials, POS system, social media pages, etc. to my partner and business manager, Monique Rose. Having Monique’s assistance with that side of business allowed me the time and energy to fulfill the responsibilities on my end.


Success Story

Work hard, stay committed, and once you develop your vision, the people that watched you work will buy into you – literally. — Sammy Davis 78

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Success Story

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Can you walk us through the process of engineering your menu?

I started with our signature and staple dish, Shrimp and Grits, and then proceeded to build around that. We wanted something succinct and to the point without sacrificing flavor or feeling too small. The menu is never final; the options continue to be dynamic. The more we watch, the more we change. Trends help us determine what to keep on the menu, what to change and what to add. We honestly change our menu every other month or so. The food grows with us.

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response we received when we opened our doors for the first time. We couldn’t have possibly predicted the level of business we would be doing so shortly after opening. It took us by complete surprise to be on a 3-hour wait on the weekends for our brunch.

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Can you share some of your promotional and marketing strategies for the restaurant? The promotion for us is all about the food. The strategy was and continues to be to put out the best food possible and let the food market the restaurant - and it has done just that. When you have a great product that is consistently great, the guests will do the advertising and marketing on your behalf. Putting out great food makes the best marketing plan every time.

Looking back, what surprises (or obstacles) did you encounter from a business standFrom my experience, point while openhard work has always ing the restaurant that you wish you paid off, and I never were better preleave any opportunity pared for?

on the table.

Looking back I wish I would’ve — Sammy Davis known the ins and outs and had been better prepared for the permitting processes. As I said, we lived in Atlanta prior to opening this location in Maryland, so we were unfamiliar with the rules and practices of the county level permits. We could’ve avoided a lot of headaches and saved money if we had done the research. I also would have reached out to the other restaurant owners in the area period to opening. Ironically, what came as a total surprise was the overwhelming 79

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Success Story

Owning a restaurant is unlike any other business in any other industry, it requires a level of commitment and killer instinct that is only developed by actually doing the job time and time again. — Sammy Davis

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Do you have a separate strategy for digital marketing and/ or social media marketing? If so, can you share your promotional and marketing strategies in these areas? I’m old school, I believe that word of mouth is the best marketing, but we’ve learned to integrate social media into that strategy. Society now uses social media to spread the word about what they do, and don’t like, and we use that to our advantage. But, as always, it goes back to the food. Guests take pictures of their meal before they do anything else these days. Making sure our food looks amazing in every photo is important to our social media strategy. Our guests do all the promoting for us, and we love it. 80

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Do you have any processes in place to turn first-time customers into raving fans? If so, can you share how you build and foster customer relationships? Our first-time guests fall in love with the food, and that is what makes them return time and time again. The promise of great food every single time they visit us whether it is dining in or carryout IS our customer loyalty program. We also try to connect with our guests beyond the plate by touching tables and making our presence felt in the dining room. There’s something about the owners coming to your table and checking on you that leaves an impression. We want our guests to know that they are truly appreciated, and we do that every chance we get. Even if it’s something as simple as replying to a post on Yelp or a Google review, we let our guests know that they are being heard. A little goes a long way.


Success Story

14

A lot of aspiring food entrepreneurs struggle with the money to fund a restaurant?

The most important way to fund your restaurant is if ever you come in contact with the money person, work as hard as you can! If you’re working with or for someone that has a vision and is executing it, buy into their vision. Work as hard on that job as you would if it were your very own. Relationships are the single most important thing in business. Work hard, stay committed and once you develop your vision the people that watched you work will buy into you…literally. The money will always come if you’re putting in work and staying focused. It sounds cliché, but it’s very true. The universe has a way of aligning things in your favor when you’re actively practicing the Law of Attraction. I wish I had a textbook approach to getting things done like the financials of starting a restaurant, but I don’t. From my experience, hard work has always paid off, and I never leave any opportunity on the table. 81

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Can you share some of the resources you use to run your business?

As I said before, I just want to focus on cooking (laughs), so my partner handles all the business resources - but I do know that our POS system is a Clover and it has been very helpful to our restaurant. Having a system that allows you to access reports and the back-office remotely has proved to be invaluable and being able to see everything via a mobile device makes running a restaurant so much easier. As far as accounting software, QuickBooks Online is the system we use. It syncs directly with your bank account, we are able to run payroll, and it makes paying and keeping up with bills very simple. Staying on top of our Yelp page has also proven to be very useful as well. I’ve learned since opening Milk & Honey in Maryland that Yelp should be a part of every restaurant’s marketing strategy if not their business model. The power of Yelp and the reviews that we receive has catapulted us into a whole other level of success that we had no clue existed. Utilizing apps such as UberEats for our delivery business, and a check-in system for our guests to track their visits are all things that contribute to the smooth operation of our business.


Success Story

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Have you had any professional failures that taught you invaluable lessons? If so, what were they and what did you learn? The first Milk & Honey location failed, we now have three locations in two states and a fourth on the way. It taught me to be present at my business, to be involved with everything down to the most minute detail. Until you have the systems in place to operate without your presence, it’s very important to be available to your business at all times. My failure the first time around taught me so much, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to get it right the next time around.

The transition has been a lot to handle, but I know that it will all be worth it in the end because I’m making my dream come true. — Sammy Davis

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tell them?

If you were to give advice to aspiring restaurant owners, what would you

I would tell them, don’t do it until you’ve worked at someone else’s restaurant from the ground up. Until you’ve helped someone build from the bottom level to the top, do not try and attempt this. It’s so important to have the necessary experiences to be successful in this business. Owning a restaurant is unlike any other business in any other industry. Food entrepreneurship requires a level of commitment and killer instinct that is only developed by actually doing the job time and time again. Use the learning years to develop your craft, educate yourself as much as you can on the industry and its trends and nuances. Most importantly, find and perfect your niche. What are you going to provide that no other restaurant is providing? That’s the key. 82

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Top Ten Takeaways from Sammy Davis 1

Before throwing yourself into the food industry, make sure to conduct as much research as possible on the current trends and nuances to find and perfect your niche.

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Social media can not only be a vital marketing tool, but it can also prove to be a great way to communicate with your guests and create long-lasting relationships.

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Be present in every aspect of your business down to the most minute detail to ensure its success.

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Failure should be seen as a chapter, not as the ending of your book.

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Keep that initial hunger and drive that you started with, no matter how much success you’ve had.

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Whether you’re just starting out or are years in, being available around the clock to your staff is essential.

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Never underestimate the power of creating and maintaining relationships.

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Before venturing out and starting your own business, work behind the scenes with a fellow entrepreneur to get a sneak peek as to what is in store and how to overcome imminent obstacles.

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Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your shortcomings and enlist the help of a reliable partner to handle those responsibilities.

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The key to generating interest in your business is to supply the community with something that no other restaurant is providing.

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Market Penetration

Breaking Into

A Saturated

Market (If There Is Such A Thing)

We posed a question to the Entrepreneurial Chef Facebook Group to find out how to break into a saturated market. From all the answers, we grabbed 7 in total with unique perspectives ranging from, “there’s never a saturated market,” to “find your voice,” and everything in between.

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Market Penetration

Find Your Voice It’s about finding your voice. There’s always going to be imitators, but they imitate the original. In a market “seemly saturated” if you find your own POV, your own voice, your own spin, etc., then it opens a brand new avenue, market or tons of doors. — Vic Clevenger

Research & Preparation Even in a “saturated” market, which I don’t believe is ever true, proper research, preparation, and a strong will wins. If you have been in the “game” for any length of time, you realize that trends circle no matter what. The gourmet and fast casual burger market, for instance, exploded, leveled off, and now it’s all about the execution and ability to maintain quality. What’s the next big thing? Not sure, but if a chef can build a concept and build in a great location, there are no excuses. Remember the guest is the reason we open places, keep them happy, and you have the golden ticket. —Don Carey

Muscle Through Put your head down and work hard. Accept that there will be difficult times, muscle through, believe in yourself and work your a** off. — Keith Breedlove

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Market Penetration

Be Exceptional I think the key to a saturated market is putting your own stamp on your recipes. Having unique menu items that display your imagination and culinary prowess is key to success in a saturated market. You don’t want your product to taste just like everyone else’s. Your product has to be exceptional. People always gravitate to an exceptional product. If you are clearly the best in a saturated market, you have no problem. — Brad Baker

No Excuses I don’t believe in a saturated market. If you offer something unique and cutting edge, the customers will come. That mindset is for the non-believers. Every industry is a challenge, but if you take the approach of “I can’t do it,” or find excuses not to be successful, then you are not an entrepreneur. You must keep grinding out until people start coming to you and asking if are you hiring! — Jonathan Scinto

Never Compromise Provide a better product, stay consistent, always do it the best you can, and never compromise quality for your bottom line. — John Corey

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Market Penetration

Find Your Why In the words of Simon Sinek, “People do not buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Never has this been more true than in our culinary businesses. If we do not find our “why,” then we enter a saturated market – where the vast majority do not even believe there is a “why” beyond money. Think of the platform we have. Think of the opportunities to touch the lives of others. What a perfect way to be engaged in our communities. A saturated market is one where we act like everyone else and believe that our community should appreciate what we do rather than us appreciating them for what they do – learn humility. A focus on people and on the larger community is not a license be financially irresponsible. If I am pouring myself into them, they want me to make money. They want me to be successful. They understand that I need to make a profit. They want to see me prosper because they see themselves in me. They believe in the things I believe in, so therefore, a bond exists. It’s the difference between a loyal customer and a repeat customer. A repeat customer may mention to your place to someone, a loyal customer cannot stop talking about you. A repeat customer may come back, but a loyal customer believes, and a believer is a powerful ally. When you have enough allies, there is no such thing as a “saturated market.” — Bob Watts

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Entrepreneurial f Che

Magazine

All Rights Reserved Š 2017 Entrepreneurial Chef Published by Rennew Media, LLC

Entrepreneurial Chef #12 - June 2017  

What will you learn from our featured guests? + Elizabeth Falkner: A Story of Changing the Culinary Landscape + Kevin Boehm & Rob Katz: Th...

Entrepreneurial Chef #12 - June 2017  

What will you learn from our featured guests? + Elizabeth Falkner: A Story of Changing the Culinary Landscape + Kevin Boehm & Rob Katz: Th...