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Entrepreneurial f The Premier Magazine For Food Entrepreneurs



Tips for Asking Friends & Family For Money


Get Ahead No Matter The Scenario



October 2018 Issue 28

Public Relations

12 Ways to Spread the Word On a Budget


FOOD COST 3 Steps for Reducing Rising Costs

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Entrepreneurial f Che


October 2018 Volume 3 / Issue #28

Publisher Rennew Media, LLC Editor Shawn Wenner Contributing Editors Sinead Mulhern

Contact Us Entrepreneurial Chef 151 N. Maitland Ave #947511 Maitland, FL 32751

Contributors David Scott Peters, Jeff Grandfield & Dale Willerton, Chef Chris Hill, Sheldon Simeon

The opinions of columnists and contributors are their own. Publication of their writing does not imply endorsement by Entrepreneurial Chef and/or Rennew Media, LLC. Sources are considered reliable and information is verified as much as possible, however, inaccuracies may occur and readers should use the information at their own risk. Links embedded within the publication may be affiliate links, which means Entrepreneurial Chef will earn a commission at no additional cost to our readers. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any fashion without the expressed consent of Rennew Media, LLC. 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, NRAEF & Share Our Strength: No Kid Hungry.

Special Thanks Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, Craig Bernstein, Chef Jen Johnson & Serafina Palandech

All Rights Reserved Š 2018 Entrepreneurial Chef Published by Rennew Media, LLC

Staff Writers Jenna Rimensnyder, Jay Michael, Marie Reynolds, Chloe Friedman Graphic Designer Rusdi Saleh Cover Cameron Mitchell Cover Photograph Jeffry Konczal

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Contents Features

14 Craig Bernstein

Prepping for Expansion & Avoiding Pitfalls

48 Chef Jen & Serafina

Successfully Entering the Billion Dollar Organic Market

36 Cameron Mitchell

Yes is Always the Answer

60 Joe Giacomino

Menu Engineering, Tabletop & Branding at Grey Ghost entrepreneurial chef


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Contents Advice

10 24 Success is a Mindset

56 Tools of the Trade

Reducing Food Cost Could Be Easier Than You Think

70 Building Your Restaurant: From the Eyes of a General Contractor


Differentiating Between Good & Bad Leases

28 12 Ways to Spread the Word on a Budget

74 The Inception Chef: Food Trends Begin with Innovators

84 Tips for Asking Friends & Family for Financial Backing entrepreneurial chef



Editor’s Note


ith every issue, to this day, I’m still blown away by the stories, lessons, and advice we both capture and sharing with our audience. We’ve connected with chefs who maxed their credit cards, quit their jobs, borrowed against their home or gave it up altogether, all for the sake of chasing a dream – and they all teach something unique and special. In this issue, one of the greatest restaurateurs of our time, Cameron Mitchell, gave an in-depth review of his entrepreneurial start and the nauseating period he endured. Mitchell recalled his first restaurant deal falling apart in the eleventh hour when he was flat broke, rolling change for groceries, and how on the last day of the deal, he received the final investor checks required move forward. He was 24 hours away from going back to a regular job, which may have changed the lives of nearly 5,000 associates working in Cameron Mitchell Restaurants today – can you imagine. The fact in business is that everyone – and I mean everyone – experiences their fair share of difficulties. But the ones who proverbially “make it,” know that how they respond in those critical moments when the path is darker than ever before, will ultimately define their future success. They dig their heels and face things head-on. I’d encourage you to keep this top of mind as you work to reach the next level in your entrepreneurial journey. Trouble will come, obstacles will arise, and setbacks will occur, but it’s how you respond in those crucial moments that will shape your future success. As always, I hope you enjoy the latest issue and snag some fresh ideas, inspiration, and actionable advice.

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Success is a

Mindset By: Chef Chris Hill


entrepreneurial chef


ast year I had the chance to sit down with a

business mentor of mine, Seth Godin. His book, The Dip, had a major impact on my career and life. It was clear the book was written out of him having experienced trials and challenges on his way to success and as he says, “it’s the first book about quitting – when to keep going and when to call it quits.”

The idea of The Dip is a much more thoughtful way of knowing that in order to create success in our lives and our careers, we’re going to have to deal with challenges and overcome them. They help us to grow so that we have a more developed muscle to take on the next challenges that will surely come our way, and in overcoming them, we get closer to our goals and the life we desperately want for ourselves. The biggest thing I am urging for you to understand is that success is a mindset. It’s in your head. It’s about stepping out of your comfort zone. However, once you do, you’ll have to develop the grit necessary to persevere – that’s the only way to get the life of your dreams. At the same time, there are times when we aren’t serving ourselves by venturing down the same path that isn’t working. As the great Albert Einstein said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” So, yes, sometimes there is a need for a change because something isn’t working, other times a change is needed to stay on top of your game and other times a minor adjustment just might be the key to your eventual success. Most of the types of changes we’re all familiar with in some capacity, and I hope you’ll think through how each could apply to you and the projects you’re working on and or are looking to commence. Adjustment is necessary when we are just a little bit of course – things aren’t quite in sync, and as a result, our business or message isn’t resonating the way we would like. Often, we have to adjust our management styles to different individuals, in order to connect with them the way we need to. Other examples of adjustments are tweaking recipes and menus, but if you are to look at your business or even career – what adjustments might you need to make? Do you need to focus on one particular thing just a bit more, thus adjusting your time, energy and attention somewhere else other entrepreneurial chef


than where it is now? Or maybe you have an idea for a product you just recently launched– chances are it won’t land perfectly with the audience you’re trying to reach right away, thus, perhaps a small tweak or two could make a huge difference. Adjustment is needed when the feedback we’re given isn’t consistent with our ideal output.

Adaptation is when change is necessary based on one’s current surroundings in order to stay competitive and relevant. You can’t be the stubborn chef who is set in his or her ways and unwilling to look at the current environment in which you are operating. A great example of this is looking at the current state of the restaurant industry and the push towards on-demand ordering and delivery services like Uber Eats and GrubHub. Many restaurants are having to adapt their service to meet the needs of their customers, knowing that if they don’t, chances are one of their competitors will. Evolution, as they teach us in biology class, on a macro scale, happens over many, many years. However, there is also micro-evolution which can represent how we change over the course of our careers and lives. Ideally, evolution on a personal and business level represents some sort of maturation process. My message will evolve over the next forty or fifty years, as I grow


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older and have a changing view of the world. As we think about our careers and the businesses we create, it’s important to think about where we want to go and how we might get there – knowing that the summation of our life and our career is the evolution of who we were, to who we are, to who we will eventually become. We’ll all fight our way through all of these forks in the road on our way to success – the key is to fight our way through. Most don’t get there, because they give up too soon. At the end of the day, know that you’re going to have to fight for it, and that’s part of what make sit rewarding. Know you can quit, as I alluded to from Godin’s book, but quit for the right reason, at the right time, and take with you a lesson learned about what to try next time. Every failure is one step closer to success and the more you try and fail, the more you have to learn along the way. Whatever you do, get back up and keep kicking ass. People might feel sorry for you, but no one has control over your success except for you. Own it. Learn. Grow. Fight. Make it happen. You got this, control your destiny - it’s in your hands, whether you realize it or not.

Chef Chris Hill is regularly featured on TV shows in various markets throughout the Southeast. His writing & work have been featured in numerous publications, in addition to authoring his book “Crush Your Career: A Proven Path to a Sustainable Life in the Kitchen.” He speaks at various colleges & universities regarding culinary media, branding, social media, and the realm of food writing.

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Success Story

Prepping for Expansion & Avoiding Pitfalls with

Craig Bernstein of Doc B’s By: Jenna Rimensnyder


entrepreneurial chef

With six locations

– across Chicago, Texas and Florida – and two more on the way, founder Craig Bernstein has concocted a recipe for success with his concept, Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen. With nine locations in under five years, Bernstein has tapped into major cities with his rapid expansion and it seems as though the sky is the limit.

Launching in 2013 as a fastcasual concept, Doc B’s made the transition to full-service after the overwhelmingly positive response from the community. Named after his father, “Doctor B,” each location is slightly different from one another, offering something for everyone and catering to its respective city. Juggling life and business as an entrepreneur can be difficult – to be successful, that can mean putting one’s personal life on the back-burner to ensure the business has a future. Sacrifices need to be made, but Bernstein is a living testament that your team can be vital throughout the process of expansion. The restaurateur believes in fostering relationships with a team to ultimately groom managers and well-rounded employees. Talking business models, sacrifices and details of rapid expansion in his interview with Entrepreneurial Chef, Bernstein gives readers the nitty-gritty of what it takes to succeed when planning to expand your concept whether it be a second location, or nationwide – all in all, he’s got the answers. entrepreneurial chef


& QA The


Craig Bernstein

When did you realize you had a concept poised for expansion? And what was that feeling like as the owner/entrepreneur? Humbly speaking, we always felt like the concept was going to be relatable in multiple markets and locations. The part that took the most focus and still does is the execution day-in and day-out. Once we realized that by hiring, training, and retaining the right people to work inside of a culture that wanted to truly wow each guest, that is when we realized we could expand. Everyday, we try to live for the guests’ and team members we have responsibilities to for that day. I think this is why ultimately, we have been able to expand.

What business factors did you consider before decided to expand? Any particular questions you asked to vet the decision? We asked the same questions to ourselves that anyone in a position to grow their business 16

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should ask; Is there a demand in the market for our product? Do we not only have the financial capital to build, but do we have the financial capital to be “long-term guest focused”? Do we have the right people in place to tell our story and share our commitment to excellence?

What were the initial concerns, or even fears, you had personally before expanding the concept and how did you overcome these? Can I be a great leader of an organization? Someone once said to me, “You might be a great restaurant manager, but that skill set no longer matters. How will you be as a leader of a company with hundreds and hopefully thousands of team members who rely on you to make the best decisions for them?” This is something I take very seriously, and have not stopped working on since realizing how right this person was. Being a restaurant manager was a skill set that got me here, but being a great leader is what will ensure Doc B’s continues to grow in the right direction.

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After the decision to expand, what were some of the crucial steps taken to line things up successfully? We had to get a great “Manager in Training� program in place. This was critical both for Kitchen Managers and Front of House Managers alike. We had to create all of the training materials, determine which location(s) would be the training store(s), and ensure that our hourly team members who were so important in the training of the managers were ready for that added responsibility. We promoted people from within who were able to help oversee this critical aspect of our growth. 18

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Once we realized that by hiring, training, and retaining the right people to work inside of a culture that wanted to truly wow each guest, that is when we realized we could expand.

How did the company, and yourself personally, handle the expansion? Personally, I put everything else on hold. That meant friends, family, personal time, vacations, you name it, it took, and continues to take, a backseat – I’m all in. The company had to, and continues to, rely on key team members who have made personal sacrifices too. I think the biggest lesson is that as you grow, the more people it takes. As we approach nine restaurants in multiple states, Doc B’s relies on so many great people. There are a lot of people who have been with us from the beginning, and without these special people who have put Doc B’s before a lot of other personal matters, we would not be where we are today – not even close.

Any mistakes made from a business standpoint in relation to expanding that brought invaluable lessons? As important as today is, there is going to be a tomorrow. As we were first growing the business, the pressure that today is all that matters has probably resulted in the turnover of some potentially great people. I’ve learned that tomorrow will come and this has made us a more compassionate company and thus we’ve begun retaining more people, which is really what it’s all about.

Being a restaurant manager was a skill set that got me here, but being a great leader is what will ensure Doc B’s continues to grow in the right direction.

entrepreneurial chef


As we were first growing the business, the pressure that today is all that matters has probably resulted in the turnover of some potentially great people. 20

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For other operators wanting to experience rapid expansion, what’s your advice for them? Capital. Not just as it relates to money, but people. Without people, either as customers or employees, it doesn’t matter how good your product is or how much money you have in the bank. Once our second restaurant opened, I quickly learned that I could only be in one restaurant at a time and that meant there was a restaurant operating without my direct supervision. Now, with eight operating restaurants, my time is spread even thinner. It’s so important that you have people at all levels that have been trained and mentored on how to do their job as if you, yourself, were doing it.

What about cautions you have for others seeking rapid expansion?

programs, top level pay rates, accrued paid vacations, meal allowances for all employees, housing reimbursements, flexible schedules and more. We have allocated a lot of resources for a national recruitment program, where we look for manager candidates all over the country instead of just in the market we are opening in, and this obviously increases the talent pool. We also have a 16-week training program for managers, and this has helped teach our new managers the Doc B’s way about everything, from slicing onions, to serving tables and opening or closing the restaurant.

As important as today is, there is going to be a tomorrow.

Don’t be focused on store counts, be focused on guest counts. We are obsessed with the guests whom we are privileged to serve. We do not worry about unit growth, but rather about how we will serve the guests in the units we have. If you take care of each guest, the growth for the business will naturally follow. It has to go in that order.

Were there any unique or brilliant strategies you – or the company – employed that contributed to the rapid expansion? I think the most brilliant decision we have made is acting as if we are bigger than we are. To be competitive and recruit top talent we have been committed to great employee benefit

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What’s been the greatest business lesson you’ve learned so far as you’ve ventured out successfully in the food business? Relationships are everything. Without my partners, we would not be here, so those relationships are critical. But relationships with guests, team members, vendors, real estate professionals, and the list goes on and on, are all important. It’s these relationships that allow the company to thrive. If you think you can do this by yourself, you very quickly will realize that you cannot. Photo Credit: Organic Moments Photography & Doc B’s 22

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Without people, either as customers or employees, it doesn’t matter how good your product is or how much money you have in the bank.

Food Cost

Reducing Food Cost

Could Be Easier Than You Think

By: David Scott Peters


entrepreneurial chef



hat if I told you by simply gathering

a little information, you could reduce

your food cost by 2–3 percent while

purchasing the same products you purchase right now? It’s easy to do, only a bit time consuming and it works. It’s all about attacking your descending dollar report, which is the record of what you buy from each vendor sorted in the order of what you have spent the most money on down to the least.

Step 1 Gather some information from all of your vendors and from any business where you purchase food, including the broadline distributors to the specialty meat company or grocery stores you run to pick up a quick item. In a perfect world, you would gather this information for the same date range. The information you are asking for from your broadline distributors is called a descending dollar report in the form of a spreadsheet, or descending case report. They are the same report, just sorted in a different order. You will want the information on this report for the past six months of purchases, or since you changed your menu if that is more recent. We only want to look at the products you are purchasing today.

You will want to do this for every vendor. That means when the specialty meat driver or local produce driver drops off your order and hands you a hand-written invoice each time, you actually have to create a spreadsheet and manually type in the data.

Step 2 Once you have all of this data gathered and in spreadsheet form, you will combine all of your purchases and sort that spreadsheet from what you’ve spent the most money on to what you have spent the least amount of money on. What you will likely discover is the top 10– 12 purchases represent 50 percent of all your purchasing. entrepreneurial chef


Step 3 Take your top 10–12 products that you purchase as listed in our compiled descending dollar report and ask your food sales rep from whom you purchase these products the following question, “If I promise to buy all of this product from you over the next year, can I get a better price?” It’s like at a food show; if you promise a vendor that you will purchase a certain number of cases of a specific product, they will lock you into a better price for that product. Well, distributors can do that anytime. If you’re lucky, your sales rep will be able to simply give you a better price. If they’ve already been giving you the best prices available, and tell you no, ask this next question, “Do you have a like-quality or better-quality product at a cheaper price?”

Notice, I didn’t have you ask if they had a cheaper product. You never want to go with a lower quality product, that would go against your core values and kill your dish. But you should be willing to switch to an equal quality product or better quality product if you can get it for a better price than you are paying now. 26

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By simply gathering the right data, doing some manual data entry, combining all of your reports and sorting that data, you’ll be able to attack your top 10–12 items you purchase and reduce your food cost by 2–3 percent. My question to you is, not will you do it, but rather what the heck are you waiting for – take action! Photo Credit: Brooke Becker

David Scott Peters is a restaurant expert, consultant, coach, speaker, and founder of TheRestaurantExpert. com, a company committed to the success of independent restaurants. combines one-on-one coaching with an exclusive restaurant management software to meet the complete operational needs of independent operators, helping them find success in the highly competitive restaurant industry. Learn more at


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Public Relations

12 Ways to Spread

the Word on a Budget Often, new businesses are so strapped for cash that hiring a large public relations firm is out of the question. So, how do you get the word out on a shoestring budget? We connected with some pros this month to answer just that (and more).


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Leverage Other Business’ Budgets

One great strategy when operating on limited budgets is to leverage the power of other business’ advertising budgets. For example, a local restaurant could offer a profit-sharing night to help support a local charity. This is a common arrangement, often referred to as a percentage night, where a certain percentage of sales will be donated to a local organization. Now, this isn’t exactly free, but it assures money will only be spent when money is earned. The real benefit is that the incentive for the local charity to promote the event is high – the more people, the more money they make. In a way, it’s like affiliate advertising. Zack West Director of Marketing Novomotus

Connect w/ Broadcast Professionals

A unique strategy is bringing food or beverages to news stations or coordinating to bring in food for a special event at a local television or radio station. This approach works particularly well for smaller markets. Many broadcast professionals are being pushed to create more social media content to connect with their viewers, and this kind of activity translates really well to social shout-outs, rather than more traditional news or TV coverage. Maree Jones Social Media Content Strategist & PR Manager

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High-End Events

Consider getting involved in at least one or two high-end events involving food. Most of the time, tasting food will sell it. So, getting your food into the mouths of people – especially people who love food, and have friends in high places – is really important, especially when you’re just starting out. Often, a food business can get involved in an event by just showing up, setting up a great table or booth, and serving product. No additional “sign up” fee is usually required. Tyffani Sedgwick Senior Account Executive Holly Hansen Public Relations

A Press Tasting

A really good PR strategy & technique for food entrepreneurs is inviting the press to a tasting. You can send out letters inviting them to come to your place at a special date and time, follow up with phone calls, and prepare printed materials and photos so they can use that information in a story. You may not get a lot of press on this, or the press might be just a few sentences and may not run for a while, so set up a continuing budget for advertising to get the word. Also, once you start advertising consistently, don’t ever stop. People can forget about you very easily, especially when something new comes along. Robert Barrows President R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations


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Press Release Optimization

Optimize the SEO of your press release. It will allow for press releases to appear at the top of major search engines and get the optimum amount and target audience on the release. Understanding the very basics of PR or bringing in an SEO content specialist is one of the best and easier hacks to get a press release seen by the right audiences. Also, use visuals. Including content such as photos, logos, infographics, and more, all capture attention and help audiences’ digest information easier. It can be the difference between a press release being distributed widely or not at all. Finally, steer clear of industry jargon. It may be easy to toss around terms that only food entrepreneurs would understand, but that doesn’t mean you should. Not all media outlets that cover you will understand that jargon and may impact if they run your release. Claire Brenner Content Specialist G2 Crowd

Connect w/Local Influencers

Host a small, intimate menu tasting. Invite local influencers with large followings to sample small portions of your favorite dishes and/or cocktails. It’s a simple, cost-effective way to get influencers in the door, creating buzz for your food business on social media. Not only is this a great way to make meaningful connections with local influencers, but a great way to organically grow your social media platforms as well. However, limit the tasting to 10 influencers – you’ll want to have time to converse and engage with each influencer to build longlasting relationships. Also, make sure the food photographs well. Influencers will definitely be taking photos and videos throughout. Sarah Lehman Senior PR Account Executive Page Communications

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Develop Your Story

Brainstorm what makes your story unique. It has been proven that people hold onto stories more than a deliberate marketing message. Spend time thinking about your background. What got you to where you are today? What influenced your company name or food product? Why should the media care? Storytelling is an incredible tool to get press coverage. If you can provide them with why your story is important, they’ll want to share it too. Make a dream target list of where you would like to get featured and send them a catered, personal message. They’ll appreciate the extra research and extra effort.

FOMO & Exclusivity

Create a unique blend of FOMO (fear of missing out) and exclusivity around the product, food or brand. It can be done in a range of creative ways, from leveraging social media to showcase the food, to launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise awareness of a product and identifying early brand advocates. To execute this type of strategy, it’s really important to identify what makes you unique, what channel has the highest propensity to create some media buzz, and to find the right person to execute. When on a budget, this can often be found among employees in your existing business – you’d be surprised how many people have excellent photography and narration skills due to the rise of social media. Charlotte Brown CEO & Founder Adelie Ventures 32

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Amber Masciorini Public Relations Account Executive ChicExecs Brand Development

Community Involvement

Get involved in the community, increase corporate social responsibility (CSR), and show your philanthropic side to catch the eye of the media. Donate leftovers to shelters, have a menu item’s profits go to a charity, or create a social media campaign with a call to action for giving. Getting involved is cheap and easy, but the more you give, the more exposure and recognition you’ll get, but make sure to align yourself with a cause that you believe in. The worst thing you can do when trying to raise your CSR is to come off as fake or ill-intentioned in the public’s eye. Raise awareness about your cause on social media and show how your business is getting involved as much as possible. Ashley Duarte Account Coordinator Moxe

Engage with Media

Read the local newspaper’s food and restaurant articles, along with other food magazines, and following the writers on social media. Share and comment on their post and contact them via email to give honest feedback. Include your contact info and brief info about yourself and your business. I find most media personnel will respond with a follow-up, questions, and future interest to review your business for one of their media articles. You have to find writers and publications that resonate with you and start building a relationship. People respond better with people they know. Freda Gore Owner & Chef Tour Host Caribbean Culinary Tours and Vacations

entrepreneurial chef


Google My Business

Create a Google My Business account, and verify it. Ask your customers to submit their reviews on your Google My Business by offering small incentives like a discount or maybe a free dessert. Also, list your business in multiple online local directories. A simple Google search such as local food directory in X (location) will show you these sites. Make sure your name, address, and phone number are always consistent in all your listings. Mike Khorev Growth Lead Nine Peaks Media

Gift Campaign for Influencers

Pay attention to food holidays and do a unique gifting campaign to influencers in your area; try to target accounts with a 25,000 following or higher. For example, on “Pi-Day,” March 14, our agency delivered 30 homemade pies to promote the Grand Opening of Henry’s Sandwich Station in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Something to keep in mind is the element of surprise. While you’re gathering delivery addresses, let them know you’ll be making a delivery on a certain day and time, but leave the rest up to their imagination. It’s also a great way to circumvent sponsored post fees, because typically influencers are so excited to get a surprise delivery, they’ll include it on their social networks at no charge. Our client got a huge pop of exposure in one day, and it only cost the price of product and labor to do the baking. Sara Shake Partner Mad


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Cover Story

Cameron Mitchell Why the Answer is

Always Yes,

No Matter the Question By: Shawn Wenner


entrepreneurial chef



y reviewing the numbers alone, one can deduce the incredible success Cameron Mitchell has experienced over his stellar career. With close to 5,000 employees working in 55 foodservice operations across 16 brands in the U.S., Cameron Mitchell Restaurants has grown from a single location to an industry behemoth over the last 25 years – despite the nauseating entrepreneurial start.

As a teenager working in restaurants, Mitchell admits he wasn’t a model citizen. Graduating nearly last in his class with a 1.05 grade point average, Mitchell not only had a poor academic record, but he harbored a bad attitude with no real direction. Though as fate would have it, on one Friday afternoon, Mitchell had an epiphany during the pandemonium of a shift change. Looking across the line, he realized just how much he loved restaurants, and at that moment, he vowed to make a lifelong career in the business. Almost instantly, Mitchell had

passion and purpose, and he would set out to realize his newfound goal – to become the president of a restaurant company. After graduating from The Culinary Institute of America, it wasn’t long before Mitchell became an executive chef and subsequently moved up the chain to running multiple restaurants. Though by 28, with frustrations mounting from his workplace environment and manager, Mitchell would be struck with a vision – to build his own restaurant company. Six short weeks from that moment, Mitchell quit his job and began working on his future company’s culture and values. Along the way, Mitchell experienced incredible hardship. From relinquishing his apartment to rolling change for groceries, maxing out his credit cards, and having a landlord back out of a deal in the eleventh hour of him securing his first restaurant – yes, he lived through lean, dark times. Yet, staying true to his mission, he laid brick after brick and eventually became president of his own restaurant company– mission accomplished. Now, at the pinnacle of his nearly 40+ year career, Mitchell is reaching back more than ever to help others. Through his book, Yes is the Answer! What’s The Question?, Mitchell shares his story of being a high school dropout who eventually graduated nearly last in his class and built a restaurant empire. And he shares the culture building secrets behind one of the best hospitality companies in foodservice today. In our interview, we touch on the journey, lessons, and advice from this legendary restaurateur. entrepreneurial chef


& QA The


Cameron Mitchell

What prompted the entrepreneurial path as opposed to working for others throughout your career? After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America and [going from] a sous chef to executive chef, general manager, and regional manager for a small restaurant group, by the time I was 28 years old I became frustrated at the combination of the company not growing and my boss who was a micromanager. I hit my head on the ceiling, so I began searching for what to do next. One night, at a local chef-owned restaurant with a friend, I had a moment of clarity – that I would start my own restaurant company. In six weeks, I left the company, and on July 11th, 1992, I started my company. In my apartment, with less than ten grand to my name, the first thing I did was write our company culture and values. After that, I set out on the course of getting my first restaurant started. It was never about “having my own restaurant.” My goal since I was 19 years old was to be the president of a restaurant company 38

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– multiple restaurants. It took 14 months to open our doors – my first deal fell through because the landlord went bankrupt – and it was a long, grueling 14 months, but I made it. And since then, we’ve opened about 90 restaurants.

What were those 14 months truly like for you as this aspiring restaurateur going after your dream? It was painful; one of the darkest moments of my life. I have a picture on my desk of rolling change [back then] as I was literally down to $70 to buy groceries. I had given up my apartment, moved into my mom’s condo, was completely broke, and had to borrow money from my brother. I maxed out my credit cards, and my savings were gone. I ended up closing my deal with funding in early March of 1993, but one week before that, I was down to my last $70. I raised $400,000 for my first restaurant and was able to write myself a check for $7,000 that I had spent on business plans, copies, letters, etc., to live off of until we opened. It was dark, lean times.

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When I opened my first restaurant, before I got my first P&L, I was looking for the second. To me, it was always about building a company. During that hardship in the beginning, did you ever think you would need to change course and get a job? Yes, [I thought that] when my first deal fell through. We were finalizing the lease toward the end of December when the whole world shuts down, and I was out of money. In midJanuary, the landlord went bankrupt and said he couldn’t do the deal. I had to send all my partners’ checks back, find a new place, get a 40

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new lease, and make a new legal offering to solicit partnerships [in a small window of time]. I had a do-or-die meeting with my partners [and we said] if we weren’t going to get funding, it was going to be the end of the road. I needed to raise $400,000, and I had $360,000 coming up to the Friday meeting. So, I was incredibly fortunate when one partner wrote me a check for $30,000 as a loan and told me to increase my own investment and pay him back when I could, and my general contractor who’d helped me get things off the ground called two friends who each put in $5,000. I got those last checks late Friday. It was all the way down to the wire, and very difficult.

If we fast forward, when did you begin expanding and how did you line yourself up for that expansion? It’s one thing to open a restaurant – a huge hurdle in its own right – and another to build multiple restaurants and brands across the country. When I opened my first restaurant, before I got my first P&L, I was looking for the second. To me, it was always about building a company. We opened our second 11 months after the first, our third a year after that, and [eventually] had ten restaurants in seven years – that was incredibly difficult. I’ve never worked harder in my life then when we had 2-3 restaurants because we had no infrastructure – I wore a lot of hats. But when we started getting good people on our team [that changed]. We started building a leadership team, and we were able to navigate a lot of the early pitfalls. We made mistakes along the way and its been quite a journey.

In my apartment, with less than ten grand to my name, the first thing I did was write our company culture and values. After that, I set out on the course of getting my first restaurant started.

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When developing specialty restaurant concepts, we don’t ever build one thinking we’re going to build more. We just build one. If that works out well, we might try a second.


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With many concepts across the country, what’s your decisionmaking process like for selecting new ideas – concepts, location, etc. – or forgoing ideas? When developing specialty restaurant concepts, we don’t ever build one thinking we’re going to build more. We just build one. If that works out well, we might try a second. If [the second] does well, we might try a third. That’s how the brands we’ve launched from our specialty group have become national brands. Some concepts are better than others, but one of the biggest things I’ve learned over the years is about restaurant branding. I had no idea [early on] about the challenges of building a brand – now I have a better idea.

I had given up my apartment, moved into my mom’s condo, was completely broke, and had to borrow money from my brother. I maxed out my credit cards, and my savings were gone.

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You mentioned branding, so what’s the hardest part about branding, especially when growing a national presence?

With a strong culture of hospitality ingrained in your brand, can you walk us through how you cultivated this?

Everything in a brand has to be continuous and congruent; whether it be the font or menu, your guests have to be able to articulate it. You have to understand the brand DNA, and sometimes that doesn’t translate well to guests and has

There are five basic questions that not only every restaurant should be able to answer, but any business. The first is, “What do we want to be?” [For us], we want to be an extraordinary restaurant company. The second is, “Who are we?” We’re great people delivering genuine hospitality. The third is, “What’s our mission?” Our mission is to thrive with both cultural and fiscal responsibility, and we define that as a 51/49 relationship. The fourth is, “What is your role?” We have different job descriptions throughout our company, but all 5,000 of us have the same role, and that’s to make raving fans of the people we do business with. Finally, the fifth is, “What’s our goal?” We have one goal that stays the same; to be better today than we were yesterday and better tomorrow than we are today.

to be reconfigured. It’s [over] 200 items; the menu, look, ambiance, lighting, music, decor, china, everything has to fit that brand exactly, and the more you can align all those items, the stronger the brand. We’ve done exhaustive research with our people and guests on what drives them to the brand, and it’s constant work. But once you get a great brand, that’s where the real fortunes in the restaurant business are made. 44

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We also have eight core values, all listed in my book Yes is the Answer! What’s The Question?, but our number one core value is that our associates come first – we don’t call them employees, we call them associates. Our number one value is to take care of our people. If we take care of our people, our people will take care of our guests, and our guests will take care of our company. It’s a triangular relationship. Finally, the last piece of our culture and values is, “The answer is yes, what’s the question?” It’s an attitudinal thing. That doesn’t mean you can bring a gun to work. It doesn’t mean you can sexually harass your workmate. It doesn’t mean you can steal. It’s an attitude. It means if we can do it, we will.

You have to understand the brand DNA, and sometimes that doesn’t translate well to guests and has to be reconfigured. How do you get employees to buy-in and adopt the company culture? In a nutshell, [we put] the associates first. They are the most important thing in our company. [One of many examples], we’re closed seven major holidays plus Super Bowl Sunday. We’re closed eight days out of the year. Why? Because [who] wants to work on Christmas, Thanksgiving or New Year’s Day. Each one of those days our associates get an extra day off to be with family. [Because] I say if we can’t make money 357 days of the year, then we shouldn’t be in business. People know in our company that we care about them and in essence, they take care of our guests.

Any final piece of advice for the aspiring food entrepreneurs out there? [Being] a great restaurateur is difficult. If it was easy, everybody would do it. We’re very passionate about doing things right. I learned long ago that you can’t cut corners. When you cut corners, before you know it, you’ve lost your entire way. I always tell people to self-study. The restaurant business is lifelong learning, and I’m still a student of the industry today. If you work hard, work with balance, purpose, a positive attitude, you self-study, and emulate other leaders who are doing it right, you can be successful. If you think it’s easy, you’re crazy. I’ve seen way too many people not do it right, take shortcuts, not get the experience, and that is a sure recipe for failure. Photo Credit: Jeffry Konczal, Chris Casella, Adam Larkey Photography & Cameron Mitchell Restaurants

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For the forward-thinking passion-driven food entrepreneur (and anyone else who loves reading about them)

Read about the successes & failures from the most celebrated chefs & restaurateurs in the world. Start your free trial today.

You have the idea, now what? BRANDING IP MANAGEMENT SUPPLIER AGREEMENTS DISTRIBUTOR FOOD LABELLING COMPLIANCE Cohn Legal Group is a specialty branch of a larger law firm with a robust presence and expertise in the food space. Our food lawyers work with high-growth, innovative consumer products startups in the food space. We take great pride in our ability to provide a comprehensive plan and structure to work through these issues and keep our clients appraised of all relevant action points as they arise. · · 216-912-6760 © 2018 Cohn Legal Group

Success Story


Chef Jen & Serafina

Successfully Entered the Billion Dollar Organic Market

By: Jay Michael


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hat happens when you have a chef-parent cooking up meals for their child and friends? Sometimes, you end up with a revolutionary, marketable recipe that’s so good, you have to share it with the world. Hip Chick Farms was created after Chef Jen Johnson struck gold with a chicken nugget recipe, and with the help of wife and co-founder Serafina Palandech, frozen food industry expert, their products are distributed widely through Whole Foods, Sprouts, Kroger and multiple grocery stores across the U.S.

Hip Chick Farms is an ethical, organic frozen poultry company that offers products such as chicken meatballs, gluten-free chicken nuggets, and organic chicken fingers. The brand has experienced great growth and innovation, particularly in the last year, with a launch at Kroger stores nationwide, more than doubling Hip Chick Farms’ distribution to nearly 2,000 stores nationwide. Chef Jen is a former chef at Chez Panisse under organic food pioneer Alice Waters, and was named one of Food and Wine’s Most Innovative Women in Food

& Drink. Now, Chef Jen and Serafina are out to prove that chicken nuggets and fingers can be real food, and good for you also. Being that organic food stock is rising in the market, the duo had no problem finding retailers – but other obstacles came apparent due to being women in a male-dominated industry. Perseverance and determination allowed them to navigate through rough waters of getting Hip Chick off the ground and onto the shelves of major retailers. The pair weighs in on branding, overcoming obstacles as a woman in the food industry, and getting your product picked up by retailers. entrepreneurial entrepreneurial chefchef 49


& QA The


Jen Johnson

What inspired the creation of Hip Chick Farms’ line of artisan products?

Chick Farms was born. We wanted to show the world that chicken nuggets and fingers can be real food, and good for you.

I cut my teeth in organic food at the pioneering restaurant, Chez Panisse. It was an incredible place to work, and I learned so much. Many years later, I went on to work as a chef for the Getty family in San Francisco. I really love cooking for family and friends, and loved playing around with different recipes to wow our guests. I happened upon one chicken nugget recipe that folks seemed to love, especially our daughter Ruby Rose and her friends. I realized I had found a winning recipe when both kids and adults kept asking me for more and more of this dish. They could not get enough, and I simply couldn’t bake nearly fast enough. That’s how the nugget idea was hatched, and how Hip

What helped to validate the products were worth pursuing from a business standpoint?


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Reports are noting that the frozen foods category are experiencing huge growth after a losing streak in sales. That’s one of the reasons we started a frozen food company. As a chefled company, it’s very important to preserve the quality of our food and ingredients as best we can. Freezing our products ensures quality and assures our customers that we haven’t added any stabilizers or fillers to maintain the life of our product if it were in the regular grocery cases.

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What thoughts or decisions were behind the branding and packaging that was created for the product line?

Reports are noting that the frozen foods category are experiencing huge growth after a losing streak in sales. That’s one of the reasons we started a frozen food company. 52

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We wanted to come up with packaging that reflects our drive for simplicity, tenderly delicious flavors, and just real food. We ended up with a really adorable design that symbolizes both myself and Serafina. Serafina is the one with the apron on our original box – and even our daughter is in the design as the ‘baby chick.’ However, during our recent rebranding, we wanted to tap into what we like to call our customer’s “Chicken Nugget Nostalgia.” This idea that adults everywhere want to tap into foods from when they were little – but instead with products that are organic and non-GMO. We wanted to give the products a more grownup feel and to also stand out in the food aisle. We teamed up with ad man Simon Thorneycroft at Perspective: Branding, the innovative voice that’s worked with Mission Tortillas, Quaker Oats, and Danone, to reimagine our boxes with a “grown-up” elegant design that would appeal to a wider audience and stand out in a busy category.

What setbacks or obstacles were faced when bringing the product line to market?

of course, what’s better than making a nice profit while helping people eat real food that’s also easy to prepare?

When I started my career, the restaurant industry wasn’t particularly friendly to women chefs and food workers (we’ve come a long way, but there is still a major problem). Then, when Serafina and I shifted roles and went into creating this food brand, we realized there was a whole new set of problems with CPG products, particularly if you are a woman: raising funds and getting a product line to market. We had no idea how difficult it was to raise funding for your company or get distribution. It just takes perseverance and not taking no for an answer.

What was your original sales and marketing strategy for the product line?

How were you able to get retailers to pick up the product line? That was the easy part. As soon as the retailers tried our products, they loved them. Our story and my background as a chef impressed them, and honesty, the stores are looking for organic and humane products.

We focused on doing demos in stores. We wanted to talk to folks, let them know why it was a better and more delicious choice. Folks shopping in the stores really enjoyed meeting us, too, and hearing our story.

We wanted to come up with packaging that reflects our drive for simplicity, tenderly delicious flavors, and just real food.

What’s your advice for others trying to get retailers to pick up their products? Organic food is growing incredibly well within conventional items – organic food sales jumped 8.4% in 2016 to $43 billion in 2017. There is incredible growth there. The conventional market is trickier, with just 1% in growth in the same period. There isn’t much growth in the food sector overall, but there are incredible opportunities right now if you’re organic. And entrepreneurial chef


I realized I had found a winning recipe when both kids and adults kept asking me for more and more of this dish.


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What have you learned from a sales and marketing standpoint that other food entrepreneurs should know? Tell your truth. Our story and my background as a chef resonated with our customers. The idea of innovating the frozen category by offering organic, simple food was revolutionary. We did something very simple, which turned out to be the most difficult path.

What’s your final advice for anyone thinking of creating a food product line? Perseverance is key – don’t take no for an answer. If you get one “no,” take that as a “maybe,” and keep trying. Use the disadvantages to your advantage. Anything that you think is a weakness can actually work for you because it

There isn’t much growth in the food sector overall, but there are incredible opportunities right now if you’re organic. puts you at an advantage over others. Think of your unique qualities like your “superpowers.” Be happy, stay humble, and find your support system. As a chef, you can get hardened and tough because it’s such a male-driven environment. One of the biggest reasons I went to Chez Panisse was because it was a super supportive environment, with lots of female energy. The vibe and energy there was thoughtful, kind and positive. You truly can’t create food in a hostile environment, so I think that was their winning recipe. I think that’s true in food entrepreneurship in general. Make sure you have a secure, safe support system filled with friends, family, and coworkers. Photo Credits: Michelle Feileacan Photography & Hip Chick Farms entrepreneurial chef



Tools of the Trade with Sheldon Simeon

Fan Favorite on Seasons 10 and 14 of Bravo Network’s Top Chef, Chef Sheldon Simeon has been reaching new culinary heights over the last six years on the silver screen and in the restaurant industry. Hosting the Hawaiian cuisine series of Eater’s Cooking in America, the James Beard Award-winning chef celebrates the unique blend of cultures that define eating on the islands with both viewers and restaurant patrons. With one thriving concept, and another one months away from opening its doors, Chef Sheldon Simeon shares which tools are at the top of his list when running a successful kitchen.


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Matfer Bourgeat Chinois/Bouillon Strainer

High quality, very sturdy chinois. The fine mesh is great for straining out stocks and broths. The two hooks on the lip gives it sturdiness when straining out large pots of stock.

Hand-held Dynamic USA MiniPro Mixer

Best immersion blender out there. Lightweight, but super powerful. I love the variable speed control it.

Benriner Super Vegetable Slicer / Mandoline

Wicked sharp out of the box. The only tool to get vegetables razor thin. entrepreneurial chef


Stainless Steel Offset Slotted 5� F. Dick Fish Spatula This spatula is the perfect size for cooking on the hotline. The width of the blade makes it perfect for pressing down the skin on fish filets to get that beautiful crispy skin.

Unicorn Magnum Pepper Mill 6� Black

These things are sleek and look badass on your counter. The large window makes it easy to refill. Nothing grinds like this thing. It rains peppercorns with each twist.


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Fine Tip JB Prince Offset Tweezer

The matte-black finish on these fine tip tweezers is just so gangster! They feel great in your hand, and the fine tip lets you delicately plate garnishes for that Instagram worthy photo.

Vollrath Dripcut Syrup Server, 48oz The only way to portion sauces. The “Drip Cut” top prevents any spills or drips.

Gray Kunz Sauce Spoon – 7.5”, U716

Good ergonomics, nice heft, good bowl depth and sturdiness. What more do you need in a cooking spoon?

Joyce Chen Scissors

These things are scalpel-like, delicate and precise, yet with the badass ability to cut up a whole chicken with ease.

WilliamsSonoma Offset Icing Spatula

The longer than usual handle on this icing spatula makes it much more comfortable than others. They also look good poking out of your tool bag because of the stylish mahogany handle. entrepreneurial chef


Success Story

By: Marie Reynolds Sponsored by: LibbeyÂŽ

Joe Giacomino Talks Menu Engineering, Tabletop & Branding at Grey Ghost 60

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fter experiencing the hustle and bustle of

Chicago’s food scene, chefs Joe Giacomino, John Vermiglio, and their founding partners relocated to Detroit to pursue their dream of opening a restaurant. Now, nestled between the historic Brush Park and Midtown neighborhoods, Grey Ghost Detroit was born of dedicated craftsmen, committed to the art of butchery, refinement of crafting cocktails and unparalleled hospitality. The duo has no doubt found their rhythm.






Chicago, the duo had connections with several individuals chomping at the bit to back their restaurant, but there was just one problem; the restaurant would be opening in Detroit, not Chicago. Despite the valiant attempts to get investors on board, the founding team failed to convince their first-round investor picks. Instead, they would scrape together enough funds from friends and family and bridge the gap with two organizations in Detroit. As they embarked on their venture, the founding team developed their branding in-house, engineered the menu to fit the desired experience they sought to deliver and worked diligently to offer the best hospitality experience Detroit has ever seen. In our interview, Joe Giacomino shares a bit of the backstory, his menu engineering strategy, tabletop selection process, and building a cult of raving fans they happily serve day-in and day-out. entrepreneurial chef


Q&A The


Joe Giacomino

What was the transition like from Chicago to opening Grey Ghost in Detroit?

What was the hardest part about launching the restaurant and how’d you overcome?

It was quite an adventure. We literally packed up our lives, our dogs and our knives, and headed to Detroit on a rainy September afternoon. Chef John grew up in the area, but Chef Joe had only visited Detroit a few times. Our biggest takeaway was to get to know everyone we could in the hospitality industry here. While the restaurant was under construction, Chef Joe made some side money hosting, and Chef John served. It was a great opportunity to finetune our front of house skills while meeting people. We also hosted a number of pop-ups around the city to get future diners acclimated to our culinary style.

The investor program was the hardest. Statistically speaking, a restaurant is a terrible investment – it’s a passion play to a degree. We had a network of people in Chicago ready to get behind us, but that was in Chicago, not Detroit. Ultimately, we scraped together with friends and family and bridged the gap with a couple of organizations in Detroit. The combination of investors, construction hurdles, picking the name, and a few other typical roadblocks were some of the challenging parts of opening, but they also acted as fantastic learning experiences. We also had the support of many existing chefs and owners who helped us along the way.

We literally packed up our lives, our dogs and our knives, and headed to Detroit on a rainy September afternoon. 62

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Can you provide insight into how you engineered the menu, especially from a business standpoint? We let the seasons determine our menu. We know what items we can and can’t get away with based on our food cost, but we look at what’s coming into season, the type of food we want to make, and then price things accordingly. Also, since we have a unique structure of two executive chefs, we often work off each other and build menu items together. We’ve always felt that if you are creative, change your menu often, and deliver on it, that people are willing to pay the market price. 64

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We also hosted a number of pop-ups around the city to get future diners acclimated to our culinary style.

Were you intentional about tying in your menu offerings into your tabletop products? Our tabletop products tie into the entire hospitality experience – whether we’re serving our popular fried bologna or a dry-aged NY strip. When our customers walk in the door, they have an expectation – that’s the case for any restaurant. Our tabletop needed to deliver on the level of service we provide and also have versatility as we change the menu.

What was your process for selecting the right tabletop products?

The investor program was the hardest. Statistically speaking, a restaurant is a terrible investment – it’s a passion play to a degree.

We are very conscious about how we decorate the plate with sauces, flowers, herbs – we consider colors as much as textures and flavors – so our process was to pick items that could let our food be the main focus. We chose white plates with clean lines and sustainability and durability. We had samples before we committed. For instance, with our glassware, we had roughly 70 samples. Because it doesn’t matter how it looks in a magazine, you want to play with it and get a feel if it will work for you.

For those planning their restaurant now, what advice do you have about selecting the right tabletop products? Do your research but also go with your gut. Also, look for versatility and don’t just plan for your opening menu, have options for changes down the road. Otherwise, you put yourself in a position where you have tabletop products you’re going to sit on and not use past your first menu iteration. entrepreneurial chef


With strong branding for Grey Ghost, where did this come from and how has it helped in your success? We were inspired by many restaurants that we’ve been to or cooked in. Our team got together and talked about what we wanted our message and brand to be, and we created a narrative. It’s really important that you find your identity and decide who you want to be. From the atmosphere to the aesthetics, we agreed on what would make us genuine. The ghost branding has evolved since we opened – with ghost emojis, our ghost logo and the clean lines of our logo. It’s helped to signify who we are in the city.


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We’ve always felt that if you are creative, change your menu often, and deliver on it, that people are willing to pay the market price.

With a strong social media presence, what’s helped you amass such a strong following? We don’t take ourselves too seriously and are happy to share our stories. We spend a great chunk of time each week engaging with our followers on social media – anyone who checks in will get a personal response from our ownership. And we like using guests’ photos on our Instagram and giving them photo credit.

As soon as you st art try ing to

In what ways do you use social media to drive either new or repeat customers?

start to pleas e y, you n oo bod n e. ery ev se ea


We use social media as a sneak peek into our world – we like to think of our followers as our friends. We’ve also participated in a few giveaways and events around social media, and like we said above, engagement is key. We have two people monitoring social media in real time and reacting to people. It’s a big deal to people that you’re accessible, that makes a huge difference. entrepreneurial chef


For aspiring food entrepreneurs thinking of opening a restaurant of their own, what’s your advice for them? Apply to a new restaurant and learn through another their opening. Take advantage of the lessons they teach you and take in the experiences with someone else’s investment. Also, look for inspiration everywhere and don’t be afraid to ask your family and friends for help along your journey. It takes a village. Finally, as soon as you start trying to please everybody, you start to please no one.

Our tabletop needed to deliver on the level of service we provide and also have versatility as we change the menu. Photo Credit: Michelle & Chris Gerard and Jenna Belevender


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Building Your Restaurant:

From the Eyes of a General Contractor By: Tim Spiegelglass


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nvisioning a restaurant can be an exciting concept –

daydreaming of customers flowing through the door and gushing over an unforgettable meal is enough motivation for any food entrepreneur. Implementing that vision takes a lot of prior planning before the doors open. Plotting out the concept, constructing a business plan, and building your team are processes that just to scratch the surface of launching a restaurant. Coming from a general contractor that has built thousands of restaurants, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Determine Construction Strategy There are three approaches here: Work with a general contractor (GC) on a negotiated basis, send the work out for bid, or build yourself. For a negotiated approach, identify a trusted GC who specializes in restaurants, bring them on early in the process so the budget moves with the plan as decisions are made. This approach also allows for your GC to serve as a reality check and construction consultant during the process. Another option is sending a final set of plans to three qualified general contractors to request bids. Make sure any GC you speak with has insurance – that’s non-negotiable – and has experience building restaurants. Finally, building a restaurant yourself is certainly possible for some, but not recommended for most. Hiring a GC is usually a good idea; it’s what they do for a living. They get better pricing, are equipped to handle problems that arise, and have experience working with government agencies. Whatever you choose, make sure you understand the blueprint because anything you add, even small things like extra outlets, will cost you more and might even delay your opening.

Why Outsourcing Construction Pays Hiring a reputable general contractor will almost always save time and money. Here’s why: first and foremost, a GC assumes liability, so barring any major changes or unknown issues (i.e., mold), you know your costs upfront. For example, if there’s a differential between what a subcontractor submitted and what’s on the plan, the GC is responsible for delivering what’s on the plan. entrepreneurial chef


Next, an experienced GC can help with value engineering by finding similar materials at a lower cost. As an example, that $85 tile might be gorgeous, but your GC might recommend a similar tile for $12, saving a lot of money on each tile. Multiply those savings in your dining room of 1,500 pieces of tile, and you just saved nearly $70K – it can be significant. Finally, there are a lot of moving parts during construction. A GC will coordinate the timeline ensuring that scores of subcontractors show up on time and in the right order which will save money and get you open faster.

Sign the Lease, But First… Once you have a few potential locations narrowed down, ask a general contractor that has built a minimum of scores of restaurants to look at the space before you sign the lease. Most GCs will do this on a complimentary basis. It will give a whole new meaning to location, location, location. During this process, a GC can identify potential construction costs in 72

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advance and give a reality check – is your vision possible within the confines of this space and your budget? Are utilities built into the space? For example, are there enough amps of power for my electric needs or is that an additional cost? Is there an existing grease trap? You will need to ask for a Letter of Intent (LOI) from your landlord, which is non-binding but defines the terms upfront so you know what expenses you and your landlord are each responsible for before signing the lease.

Plan for Opening As your general contractor focuses on the build – securing proper permitting, managing subcontractors, and passing inspections – you should be laser focused on pre-planning for your opening. Work with your GC to understand the schedule so you can order your equipment to arrive in the proper sequence so there are no delays. You will start hiring and training employees, ordering small wares, and making final operational decisions. Although you’ll be anxious to open at this point, take your time to do it properly, you never get a second chance at a first impression. Photo Credit: Chayantorn

Tim Spiegelglass is the fourth-generation owner of Spiegelglass Construction Company, a commercial general contractor with expertise in restaurants, corporate interiors and retail. Tim oversees all aspects of construction from site selection to project completion and has proudly continued his family’s focus on restaurants by building for clients including Panera Bread, Shake Shack, First Watch, Flemings Prime Steakhouse and more.


The Inception Chef:

Food Trends Begin with Innovators In Collaboration With: The following food trends are all in the Inception Stage of Datassential’s Menu Adoption Cycle (MAC). Inception is where trends begin – these ingredients and dishes exemplify originality in flavor, preparation, and presentation. 74

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Achiote A bright red spice native to South America that is commonly used to add flavor and color to dishes. It has a slightly earthy, peppery aroma and is often ground into a paste with garlic and various spices.

33% 22%

Why It’s Trendy: Operators are beginning to explore applications in sauces and dressings. Achiote can also be leveraged to add a Latin American twist to creamy sauces (think an achiote smear on an avocado burger or a colorful achiote crema on tacos) and dressings.


2% Inclusion of U.S. Restaurant Menus

Consumers Know It

Growth On Menus Over Past Four Years

Consumers Tried It

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Labneh A rich, creamy Middle Eastern strained yogurt thicker than unstrained yogurt but with the same tangy taste.


A rich, creamy Middle Eastern strained yogurt thicker than unstrained yogurt but with the same tangy taste. Why It’s Trendy: It could become the next Greek yogurt. According to Datassential’s prediction tool, Haiku, labneh is estimated to grow more than 50% over the next four years. This highly adaptable ingredient can star in numerous applications beyond traditional dishes. Feel free to get creative with adding spices and garnishes.

12% 5%



Inclusion of U.S. Restaurant Menus

Consumers Know It

Growth On Menus Over Past Four Years

Consumers Tried It

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Ube Pronounced “ooh-beh” and often referred to simply as purple yam, ube is a mainstay in the Philippines, where it stars in a number of classic desserts. Why It’s Trendy: The purple yam has long been a staple in Filipino cuisine, but it is now taking center stage in the U.S. for its vibrant appearance that serves as a natural way to turn just about anything purple – perfect for showcasing on Instagram.

14% 6%

<1% Inclusion of U.S. Restaurant Menus

Consumers Know It

Growth On Menus Over Past Four Years

Consumers Tried It

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Chermoula A Moroccan sauce consisting of preserved lemon, cilantro, parsley, garlic, cumin, coriander, and olive oil. It is often served with grilled seafood. Why Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Trendy: Currently paired most often with center-ofplate meat and seafood entrĂŠes, there is room for chermoula to grow as a condiment on other familiar platforms like burgers, tacos, and sandwiches.

12% 5%



Inclusion of U.S. Restaurant Menus

Consumers Know It

Growth On Menus Over Past Four Years

Consumers Tried It

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Co-chaired by Chef Marcus Samuelsson, Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) is a national non-profit that promotes and provides career opportunities for underserved youth through culinary arts education and employment. WHO DOES C-CAP SERVE?


17,000+ students 191 public high school teachers 179 schools 2,000+ industry partners

Mentor or hire a student Donate products or equipment Support our programs and scholarships Host a fundraising event

@CCAPInc For information or to get involved: contact us at, (212) 974-1711, or visit Founded in 1990 by Richard Grausman

Commercial Leasing

Differentiating Between Good & Bad Leases By: Jeff Grandfield and Dale Willerton (The Lease Coach)


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we explain in our new book, Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals FOR DUMMIES, a bad lease agreement may hold you back from making a good profit or even result in the closure of your business. Great entrepreneurial chefs in poor or mediocre locations will never reach the full potential that a better location may offer. On the other hand, perhaps you’ve picked a great location, but leased too many (or too few) square feet; this can prove to be a problem as well.

Combine a poor location with a high rental rate, and you have a recipe for disaster. Your business will never succeed, let alone sell for a profit. Too many entrepreneurial chefs are shopping for cheap space, but for the most part, get what they pay for location-wise. This isn’t to downplay the need for skillful negotiation; you don’t want to pay too much for a good location – it’s all relative. In many of the larger plazas and enclosed malls, the property may be recognized as an excellent location, but getting stuck in a quiet area of the property may make your business less visible than you would like. Another factor can be a lack of adequate parking for your customers. One tenant The Lease Coach worked with for a midterm rent reduction came to the unfortunate realization that their newest location was parking-starved. Just when people wanted to visit, the parking lot was already full of vehicles. Customers parked briefly outside the front door, came in to complain that they couldn’t find a parking space even close by, returned to their cars and drove away. A good lease agreement will contain primary business terms (rent, size of location, term length, etc.) that are essential to the completed lease deal but will only make up a small portion of the lease. The rest of the lease agreement contains hundreds of secondary or ancillary clauses that may or may not be financial in nature and are, typically, written in the landlord’s favor. It is a common mistake for commercial tenants to overlook these terms feeling they are simply “standard.” Many of these terms can be adjusted to reduce potential negative impacts on your business or limitation on future rights. entrepreneurial chef


Making a good lease great means removing, deleting, or negotiating restrictive clauses in the lease agreement that will hold your company back. For some tenants, the renewal option clause can be the difference between whether you get to stay in your location for the long term allowing your business to grow. A demolition clause can force you to move out of your premises if the landlord wants to knock down the building and put up another type of building. A poorly written relocation clause can force you into a costly move. If an entrepreneurial chef wants to sell their business and assign their lease agreement to the buyer, the lease must have a comprehensive lease agreement clause. However, commercial landlords often include conditions controlling or potentially prohibiting the lease assignment (unless suitable wording is added for the tenant’s protection). An exclusivity clause prevents your direct competitors or neighboring tenants from offering the same services or products. Review the hours and days of operation required in your lease; you may need to negotiate modified days or hours when it’s unprofitable to stay open. These are just a handful of examples of why it is important to read and negotiate all the terms of your lease before signing.

Brevity in a lease agreement is the enemy of most commercial tenants. A good lease agreement is longer, not shorter. Never assume that what the lease doesn’t say will play out to your benefit later – it won’t. As the tenant, you want everything that could be an issue addressed in your lease agreement. Remember, it’s often what is missing from a lease agreement that really comes back to haunt the tenant. 82

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If you plan to sell your business, try to think in terms of whether you’d buy this business based on its current lease agreement. As a prospective buyer, what parts of the lease agreement would you not like? Would the rent seem high? What about the Operating Costs (Common Area Maintenance / CAM costs)? Would a shortage of parking or an undesirable neighboring tenant drive away your potential customers and buyers of your business? Are there renewal options valid to a future buyer? Thinking about these issues beforehand can make all the difference in your decision-making process. All of these are scary scenarios requiring proper guidance from a professional who is working for you, being paid by you, and serving your needs. Photo Credit: Natalia Merzlyakova

Dale Willerton and Jeff Grandfield — The Lease Coach – are Commercial Lease Consultants who work exclusively for tenants. Dale and Jeff are professional speakers and co-authors of Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals FOR DUMMIES (Wiley, 2013). Got a leasing question? Need help with your new lease or renewal? Call 1-800-738-9202, e-mail DaleWillerton@TheLeaseCoach. com / JeffGrandfield@TheLeaseCoach. com or visit



Are you in?

To get your company involved, visit


Tips for Asking Friends & Family for

Financial Backing By: Chloe Friedman


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ccording to data compiled by Fundable, 57% of startups are funded by loans and credit while 38% receive funding from family and friends. Each month, it’s estimated there are 565,000 start-ups launched in the US alone. A vast majority of these start-ups raise an average of $75,000 from personal loans and credit while $23,000 is raised from family and friends. One thing is certain, asking friends and family for money is no easy feat. That said, there are things to keep in mind.

Treat Them Like an Investor Even though it’s friends and family, you should treat them exactly how you would treat an investor. You wouldn’t have a half-baked plan, engage in unprofessional communication, or skim over the details with a professional investor, right? So, make sure you give whomever you’re asking the same treatment.

Present a Complete Business Plan Before making the request, it’s vital to have your entire business mapped out. Everything from your mission, vision, and purpose, to the logistics of turning a profit – and the timeframe to achieve consistent levels of profitability. A business plan has several benefits such as acting as a guide, helping with goal setting, and thinking through the allocation of resources.

Show Your Personal Investment Simply put, if you don’t have skin in the game, it will be hard to convince anyone to back your idea. Whether it’s money, time, or both, show exactly what you’ve personally invested and what you will continue to invest. Furthermore, conveying the sacrifices you’ve already made and will continue to make will bode well.

Predetermine the Payment Plan How are you planning on repaying your family and friends? How long will it take before you start repaying the loan? To help you answer the questions above, you need to create a solid payment plan. With such a plan, you will be able to figure out how to pay everyone, with interest. To retain the trust of your family and friends, it’s wise to schedule the first payment six months after launching your business. In your plan, set up contingencies in case you are unable to make payments. Doing this beforehand allows you to tackle the problem(s) before they begin. entrepreneurial chef


Find People with Business Experience If you approach family and friends who have little business experience they may not share your enthusiasm. The mental picture they may have, from a lack of business experience, is you not repaying their money from your business venture failing. When creating a list of whom to approach for funding, select people who have relevant business experience. Furthermore, they may provide some solid perspective as you move along with your venture. Pick an Investment Type Borrowing money means you will be getting into a professional relationship. Since there will be strings attached, it’s important to know from the start the kind of role they will play in the new venture. What you ought to know ahead of time is the role they will take in decision making. Will they have a say as an active partner? Or will they relinquish everything to you? It’s best to begin the relationship knowing if they will be an active or silent partner.

Generate Legal Documents Even though you’re seeking funds from family and friends, it’s wise maintain formal documents between everyone. Keeping everything informal could one day lead to the downfall of your 86

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business. Imagine, one day the business is faring well and the family member or friend shares a new idea to incorporate and you execute on the idea and it’s successful. If formal agreements and legal documents were not generated, there could be confusion on future compensation or equity shares. Without formal agreements there could be a bitter fight in the courts and a strained relationship around the corner. Because nothing can ruin a relationship like money woes.

Communicating the Plan When the time comes to pitch your plan, you need to be open and honest. You will naturally be excited, but this could lead to overlooking or downplaying the risks. In every business, no matter how special, there are business risks. During the meeting, outline your plans (business and payment) and include both the best and worst scenarios. This will ensure that all parties are well versed about the venture.

Be Reasonable When requesting funding from family and friends, don’t be greedy. Remember, the relationship between you and your family and friends is very important. Don’t burn bridges this early, as you may need additional funding. When calculating the amount to ask, always start with the minimum that will allow you to reach a certain milestone. Don’t forget to add a buffer, but not too much.

Communicate Progress Even though family and friends are typically more patient than VCs and angel investors, it’s wise to keep updating them in regards to the progress of your business. There are many ways to keep in touch with your new backers, but it’s critical you’re honest about your progress. You don’t have to sugar coat everything because you might want to raise more money later, so paint the real picture.

Small Business Accounting Software That Makes Billing Painless

The all-new FreshBooks is accounting software that makes running your small business easy, fast and secure. Spend less time on accounting and more time doing the work you love. Š 2018 FreshBooks



Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t miss the next issue! Guaranteed to be jam packed with fresh ideas, inspiration and actionable advice.

Entrepreneurial Chef #28 - October 2018  

What will you learn from our featured guests? + Cameron Mitchell: Why ‘Yes’ is Always the Answer + Chef Jen & Serafina: How to Successfully...

Entrepreneurial Chef #28 - October 2018  

What will you learn from our featured guests? + Cameron Mitchell: Why ‘Yes’ is Always the Answer + Chef Jen & Serafina: How to Successfully...