Restaurant Unstoppable with Eric Cacciatore

Over the last two decades, Robert Thompson, has opened more than a dozen restaurant concepts, experiencing a number of successes and a few failures. At one point, Thompson was ready to get out of the restaurant industry completely. However, his irrational stubbornness had other thoughts. Thompson decided to give everything he had – personally and financially - to develop a new dining and entertainment experience.

In 2012 Punch Bowl Social,  a multifaceted, surprisingly intimate, social gaming, and dining space was born.  As of today, Punch Bowl Social consists of 19 locations with an additional 6 slated to open in the next 14 months. 

Show notes…

Favorite success quote or mantra:

"is this was your last day on earth what would you do?"

In this episode with Robert Thompson, we discuss: 

  • The intricacies of growing an iconic brand. 
  • With 19 restaurants, Thompson still doesn't feel like a success. 
  • How better than average design and concept, still won't make up for bad real estate. 
  • While it's good to be confident, over-confidence can lead to arrogance.
  • Staying humble. 
  • recovering from failure. 
  • Starting with the end in mind; who is your target market?  
  • knowing your market. 
  • Reconnecting with the guest.
  • Injecting your presence into the brand. 
  • Using technology and data to select your location. 
  • Transitioning into a new neighborhood gracefully.
  • How Punch Bowl Social compartmentalizes its space to balance events and standard guest. 
  • Thompson's plan to maintain their authenticity as the scale beyond 19 location. 

Today's sponsor:

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Knowledge bombs

  1. Which "it factor" habit, trait, or characteristic you believe most contributes to your success?
    • Grind
  2. What is your biggest weakness?
    • Grind
  3. What's one question you ask or thing you look for during an interview?
    • People pipeline
  4. What's a current challenge? How are you dealing with it?
    • Try to find out if they're competitive. 
  5. Share one code of conduct or behavior you teach your team.
    • Zero tolerance for abuse.
  6. What is one uncommon standard of service you teach your staff?
    • Moral obligation. 
  7. What's one book we must read to become a better person or restaurant owner?
  8. What's the one thing you feel restaurateurs don't know well enough or do often enough?
    • Not thinking about the guest. 
  9. What's one piece of technology you've adopted within your four walls restaurant and how has it influence operations?
    • e-sites. 
  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?
    1. Look to the horizon
    2. Remember that you could die tomorrow
    3. Kiss your kids and wife. 

Contact info: put "Restaurant Hall-of-Fame" in the subject line if you want a job! 

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 Robert Thompson 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: 655_Robert_Thompson_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:34pm EDT