Restaurant Unstoppable with Eric Cacciatore

Originally from Malden, MA Chef TJ LaRosa is a two-time transplant. He first moved to San Francisco where he got his start working in the kitchen of the historic Alioto's at Fisherman's Wharf. In 1998 he would relocate again, this time to Texas. In 2012 he opened Fulbelli's Restaurant, located in Sherman, Texas.

In this episode we discuss: the joy of taking on a challenge. The importance of mentors. The importance of asking questions. Patience in the kitchen. The importance of being a hands-on owner. Passion in the industry. Saying yes to customers. Pitching restaurant ideas to get investor interest. Taking a leap of faith. The importance of saving money. Word-of-mouth marketing. Lead by example.


Direct download: 343_TJ_LaRosa_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

Tommaso Bunker has over 20 years of outstanding experience in operations, finance, human resources, marketing, & Corporate Officer-level management for both stable & turn-around corporations and independents. During his tenure as Director of Operations at Sushi Ran, the restaurant earned a Michelin Star. He would then go on to share his knowledge by helping restaurant operators turn things in their own business around. Today he is the Director of Business Development of Mr. Esspresso located in Oakland, CA.

In this episode we will discuss: There's always a solution, you just have to find it. Taking the initiative and where that gets you. Getting involved with your team as much as possible. The business side of running a restaurant. Working in a vast array of restaurant styles and what you learn from that. Staying calm in stressful situations. The importance of mentors. Sympathy. Empathy. Culture-clashing in the kitchen. Conflict resolution. Repetition and communication are keys to success. Discipline. A smile costs nothing but means a lot. Being willing to learn.

Direct download: tomasso_bunker_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

Chris Schultz spent 15 years with the Starbucks Management and Leadership team before joininging MOD Pizza, aka the MOD Squad in 2009. Since then the MOD Pizza has gone from 1 location to 100 locations in 2016. Since the beginning the driving force behind MOD has their philosophy of putting their people first. Today Schultz holds the title of Senior Vice President of Operations.

In this episode we will discuss: Team importance. Everyone on your team is equally important to getting the job done: no star players. Not worrying about who gets the credit and just focusing on getting the job done. You have to believe in your team. Culture-driven organizations. Failure is not an option. Growing big while remaining small. Move slowly. Make sure you have the confidence to go being before you try to grow. The customers need to want to go back to your restaurant. Customers need to feel comfortable. Being a part of a company that stands for more than just profits. Everyone deserves a second chance.

Direct download: 341_chris_schultz_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

Tracy Chang is from Cambridge, MA where she first experienced the restaurant industry while observing her Grandmother, a multi-unit restaurant owner. She would go on to study finance at Boston College. After college and a short stint in a kitchen, she would continue on to travel the world learning about food, marketing, media, and public relations. Today, Tracy is the Chef, Owner at PAGU, in Cambridge, MA.

In this episode we discuss: Living intentionally. Drive and determination and where it gets you. The early days of opening a restaurant. Being passionate about what you do for work. The importance of learning how every job is done properly under your management. Being self-made. Informal training is not a deal-breaker; we can learn the skills we need from anywhere. A willingness to do anything to get what you want. The willingness to contribute fully to your team. Looking at your situation and attempting to add value. The importance of family in your life no matter your profession. Serve your community and your community will serve you. Ramen. Starting small and scaling up. Staying local. You need to care and be intentional. Thew importance of having endurance in this industry. This is a "people" business as much as a "restaurant" business. The importance of treating your staff like family.

Direct download: 340_Tracy_Chang_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

Chef Edward Mendoza comes from Augusta, GA and has a bachelor's degree in Business Management from Agusta State and a Culinary Degree he earned in Vail, CO. He would go on to cook all around the country and world and has garnered countless accolades along the way. Today he is the owner of Cucina 503 and serves as corporate chef at major events like the Masters, U.S. Open, Kentucky Derby, Super Bowl, and the Salt Lake City Olympics.

In this episode we discuss: Tweaking the system to make it your own. Looking at cooking in a restaurant as hosting a party every single night. For every one dollar you spend, you need to make three dollars to make that dollar back. Standards are very important. Your partners can't follow your vision if you don't clearly lay it out for you. How to operate when failure is not an option. Location and dependable events near your restaurant are guaranteed money made and guests served. The importance of earning a good reputation in your community. The importance of being prepared. The importance and ease of having a payroll company. There's no room for error in catering. There is no such thing as being too prepared for a catering event.

Direct download: Untitled_Sessio339_Edward_Mendoza_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

Lisandra Pagan is the founder of Deliberate Plan Consulting LLC. She helps restaurant owners prepare for business interruptions such as natural events, day to day crisis, or anything that can prevent them from doing their job. Then she helps develop strategies to bounce back quickly and prevent permanent business closures.

RJ Joyce, is a past guest of Restaurant Unstoppable, episode 299. In 2015 he partnered with James Woodhouse to open his second restaurant Louie’s, located in Portsmouth, NH. Two months ago they were forced to close indefinitely.

In this episode we discuss: The importance of planning. Planning for a catastrophe at your business. Planning for a fire in your building. The emotional response to tragedy. The strength of keeping things positive in the face of disaster. No matter how loved and successful your business is nobody is natural disaster-proof. Picking yourself up after tragedy. Planning during peace time. Contingency planning. Time is of the essence in disaster response. How insurance comes into play.

Direct download: 338_Lisandra_Pagan_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

Originating from Boston MA area, Debi Saltzberg holds a degree in hotel and restaurant management from UMass Amherst and has spent the last 15 years working in the San Diego restaurant industry. Today, she is the founder and host of Just Forking Around: The podcast show for Restaurateurs, Creative Chefs, Kick-Ass Servers, Wicked Cool Winemakers, Fresh Farmers and frankly, anyone who plays a pivotal part in this beautifully insane sexy world of Food and Beverage.

In this episode we discuss: Perspective and how it determines your outlook on what's positive. The importance of your team! The feeling of making your guests happy. The choice to move from bartender to manager. Wanting to be part of a team. Picking yourself up when you fall down. The important part of failing is the recovery. Viewing your restaurant in the "macro." The desire to be the best! The feeling of being worthy of rewards. Hard work and what it earns you. Being a mentor. The joy of inspiring your employees. LEADERSHIP! The importance of looking up. Your employees want to be great so it's YOUR JOB to foster that. Don't freak out; find the solution! Filling your mind with positivity through podcasts.

Direct download: 337_Debi_Saltzberg_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

In this episode we discuss: The power of journaling. The power of positivity. Setting the stage at your restaurant. The history of food. The importance of having goals. the importance of mentors. Living intentionally! The importance of time management. Time delegation. Time-blocking. The nitty-gritty of opening a restaurant. Making sure your restaurant concept is good for it's geographical location. Making your brand known. getting your name out there with pre-opening marketing! Operating a business "lean." Do the research to get the best prices and quality. Negotiating with vendors. Increase your bottom line without just increasing prices for guests. Budgeting your work employee Labor management. Track your data. 

Rafe is an exceptional leader with more than 20 years in the restaurant business. With outstanding relationship building, training and presentation skills, Rafe is a results-orientated business professional with proven abilities in strategic planning, managing projects, improving the efficiency of operations and team building. With both Sommelier and Cicerone certifications, Rafe is a vital asset to the Puccini Group, where he serves as Vice President of Restaurant Operations.

Direct download: 336_Rafe_Gabel_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

Hailing from India, Chef Jehangir Mehta is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. After graduating in the mid-90’s Chef Mehta got busy working in and opening some of the finest restaurants in New York City. Today Chef Mehta is an author and restaurateur at Graffiti, Graffiti Earth, and Me and You.

In this episode we discuss: Not following the crowd. Sustainability. Sociology and how it applies to the restaurant environment. The right way to speak to guests. The importance of working under difficult managers early in your career.Taking something positive from bad experiences. The importance of maintaining integrity. The importance of teaching our youth the process of cooking and where their food comes from. The most important part of your endeavors is that you tried. The importance of carefully choosing your team! Mentors are key to success. Learn from your mentor’s mistakes so that you don’t have to make them. Sustainability and how easy it is to improve in your business.


Direct download: 335_Jehangir_Mehta_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EDT