Restaurant Unstoppable with Eric Cacciatore



Hailing from Olympia, WA, Erica Van Lierop has owned and operated Vans Burger since it's inception 18 years ago. After a long career in restaurants and hotels, Van Lierop decided to settle down and open an old fashioned drive through concept. The consistency in quality and freshness that results from this business model has propelled Van's Burger to the top of the Washington Burger Scene, despite being known as the burger place that is never open

Show notes…

Favorite Success Quote or Mantra.

"Tomorrows happiness starts today."

In this episode with Erica Van Leirop, we discuss:

  • How Erica's first "restaurant boss" treated her like family, how that made her felt, and how she is different today because of it.  
  • Establishing a culture of service.
  • Not letting others be in charge of your destiny. 
  • In a drive-up business model, positioning the intercom a set car length away so when the food finishes the car is just rolling up.
  • Responding and pivoting to market demand and needs. 
  • Tracking guest request to know how to pivot and adapt to the market. 
  • How Erica makes the most of her highway reader sign.
  • The power of doing few things really well.
  • Using good communication to focus on the guest you already and growing that loyalty.
  • Being active in your community.
  • Advice on how to respond to guest reviews.
  • Using daily events and occurrences as social media opportunities to bring the public in on the behind the scenes of your business. 
  • Why it is so importance to learn your guest's names.
  • Being mindful of the words you use i.e. instead of saying, "You're welcome." say, "Thank you."

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Knowledge bombs

  1. Which "it factor" habit, trait, or characteristic you believe most contributes to your success?

    • Attention to detail.
  2. What is your biggest weakness?

    • tendency to procrastinate the big stuff.
  3. What's one question you ask or thing you look for during an interview?

    • Is this typically what you look like?
  4. What's a current challenge? How are you dealing with it?

    • Suppliers not having what they ordered.
  5. Share one code of conduct or behavior you teach your team.

    • Be Grateful.
    • Great your guest right away.
  6. What is one uncommon standard of service you teach your staff?

    • using appropriate verbiage.
  7. What's one book we must read to become a better person or restaurant owner?

    1. The Life Changing Habit of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. 
  8. Share an online resource or tool.

    • Restaurant Unstoppable
  9. What's one piece of technology you've adopted in your restaurant and how has it influence operations?

    • Big Arrow Sign.
    • Square.
  10. If you got the news that you'd be leaving this world tomorrow and all memories of you, your work, and your restaurants would be lost with your departure with the exception of 3 pieces of wisdom you could leave behind for the good of humanity, what would they be? 

    • Be Kind.
    • Be generous.
    • Have fun.

Contact Info


Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining today! Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

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Huge thanks to Erica Van Lierop for joining me for another awesome episode. Until next time!


Restaurant Unstoppable is a free podcast. One of the ways I'm able to make it free is by earning a commission when sharing certain products with you. I've made it a core value to only share tools, resources, and services my guest mentors have recommend, first. If you're finding value in my podcast, please use my links!
Direct download: 520_Erica_Leirap_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT