How to Save Your Restaurant? Serve More Than Food
We get it. Custom made meals served in biodegradable bowls and ordered through an app or over a sneeze guard are really good and really convenient.And plenty sell each year—the fast casual sector posted an 8% sales gain in 2018, and traffic jumped 3% in the space despite the fact that total U.S. foodservice traffic was flat as a board. You can thank a confluence of factors from the ’08 financial crisis to rising rents for the industry’s recent ascent.But not even the fast casual space, home to relatively fast, relatively cheap, and relatively healthy food we’ve seamlessly integrated into our lives and diets, is safe from COVID-19. The sector, much like fine dining and the rest of the hospitality space, has been brought to its knees by shutdowns designed to keep us all safe...and at home.So today on Business Casual, we’re exploring what makes fast casual tick, what’s changed since the coronavirus set in, and what comes next for the Chipotles of the world. Most importantly? We’re pinpointing exactly what it is that helped fast casual thrive through the last recession—and determining which of those lessons can help us get through today.This episode features two entrepreneurs in different stages of building their businesses: Nicolas Jammet of famed salad company Sweetgreen and Chef JJ Johnson of Harlem’s new(ish) rice bowl shop Fieldtrip.We decided to bring in not one, but two experts to show differing perspectives on building moats around a business. For Nicolas and Sweetgreen, the biggest competitive advantage is white label tech that’s made the chain the envy of both fast casual restaurants and Silicon Valley alike.For JJ and Filedtrip, the biggest competitive advantage is a tight-knit community that’s served as the best marketing tool imaginable. The insight the two bring...to the table...is unbeatable. They’re operating and more importantly adapting during an unimaginably difficult time for business and in a sector notorious for razor-thin margins. Listen now to get their perspectives. + FYI, this is Part II of our two-part exploration of the restaurant industry in a post-COVID world. If you want to hear Part I, go check it out. It features fine dining czar Chef Marcus Samuelsson and tackles issues like government funding, small business, furloughs, and so much more.
Duration: 37 min