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29 minutes | May 23, 2022
Restaurants in War; Maria Banko, The Ukraine Tapes
Maria is just one of the hospitality people that are the lesser-known heroes of the Ukrainian war with Russia. These restaurant industry veterans are trying to hold their country together with the guts to stay in place and keep their lights on. They’re using their hospitality instincts to find ways to keep their business running while organizing volunteer kitchens that feed their neighbors, the front-line workers in hospitals and clinics and the military whenever they needed it. The voice you heard at the top is Maria Banko. She’s an outspoken, determined woman working with a multi-concept company called The Gastro Family of Restaurants. Maria is their communications director handling public relations for the constantly pivoting restaurant company while sometimes volunteering in one of the Gastro Family kitchens to help box a few meals, to be delivered to various organizations in need of food. She passionately describes the reasons and results of the war as she sees it. We came out with so much material I’ve created a special episode with the rest of our conversation on the how essential the food culture will be in re-building the country after the war. It will be posted soon. Podcast Music: Moonlight Night – Traditional Ukrainian Folk Song Bright Flow – William Benkert Break The Barrier – Edgar Hopp
33 minutes | May 10, 2022
Hotel Keeper at The Front; Andrij Leda
I learned how the restauranteurs and hotelier I talked with represent some of the unknown faces of the war with Russia. I’ve talked with brave people who chose to stay where they were to give support to their neighbors, who lost everything and the military by keeping their restaurants and hotels open not only for a feeling of business as usual. But also to re-purpose their kitchens to feed their neighbors who have lost everything as well as front line workers and the military. First up is Andrij Leda, general manager of the first class Hotel Nobilis in Lviv, Ukraine. Lviv is a large city near the Polish border that US listeners might recognize as the home base for many journalists covering the fighting. But it was also the major conduit to Poland and the rest of Europe for hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Ukraine when the war started.
20 minutes | Apr 28, 2022
Restaurant Life: Why Me?
Many other restaurant business podcasts promise a marketing solution or tips for entrepreneurs on managing restaurants. If that’s what you thought this was that podcast …keep scrolling. But if you stay you’ll get what makes Restaurant Legends so singular. But in the meantime, I thought it was time talk about who I am and how I make this podcast different from the rest. I grew up in a family that at various times was either in the food business or the beverage business. I was about 19 when I met John Snowden in the office of his kitchen. I was there under the assumption that I would be talking to him about taking classes in the cooking school he ran. The school was focused on French cooking. It was a time when Julia Child was turning the culinary world on its ear with her books and tv show and Dumas Pere L’Ecole de la Cuisine Francais was as close as I was going to get at that moment to learn about cooking and food. But John had another idea how my culinary education was going to happen. He leaned back in his chair, took a long drink from a large, frosted glass of what I found out later to be cognac on the rocks and said, “Do you know what an apprentice does?” Even though I had been around food and kitchens most of my life at that point. This was the real start to a journey that’s lasted 55 years and it’s still going. Fernand Point "As far as cuisine is concerned, one must read everything, see everything, hear everything, try everything, observe everything, in order to retain in the end, just a little bit." – Fernand Point A Few Other students of Point; Paul Bocuse Alain Chapel Jean & Pierre Troigros Louis Outhier All were in the forefront of revolutionizing cooking with Nouvelle Cuisine The Chicken Bowl Menu Music: Delta Blues - Unknown Ferris Wheel – Quincas Moreira Ball and Chain Blues – Peter Crosby
19 minutes | Mar 31, 2022
Restaurants; Important Issues to Face Now (Spring 2022)
When the restaurant shutdowns happened in 2020, many operators looked at it as an impending apocalypse for the industry. It was even referred to by several influential people in this business to be an “extinction level event”. From which, the industry may never recover. But being the glass half full kind of guy I am. I saw this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to rebuild an industry that needed a great big fixing in many areas. So I set up a special podcast episode with three smart operators in the Twin Cities. I wanted to see if my ideas were all wet or there were others out there were thinking the same way. I wanted to know if we could fix the gross pay inequity that had always existed between back and front of house. Even prior to the shutdowns there was a growing need for qualified cooks. The hospitality industry in the Twin Cities had grown so quickly that the competition for cooks was driving the hourly rate for those positions to levels no one had ever seen before. But whether the back of house rate increased or not, the front of house take home rate was still two or three times greater than the crew in back. And there was a government mandated minimum wage increase on the horizon that would send some restaurants into a tailspin because the front of house payroll in Minnesota does not have a tip credit so the result of the wage increase would drive that disparity in salary even greater than it was before.
8 minutes | Jan 31, 2022
Redux on Restaurant Racism; Mecca Bos
In June of 2020, a conversation with Mecca Bos, Chef and food writer, focused on the issues of racism in the restaurant industry
37 minutes | Oct 7, 2021
A Cheesy Restaurant Story; The Melt Shop w/ Spencer Rubin
You know it happens every day in the restaurant business. A friend meets you after he’s just had a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich for lunch and says, “you should open a grilled cheese restaurant!” And then you do A through-put that worked was a discovery after opening. It's a term used primarily by those in the quick service or fast casual arenas. It neatly describes the time it takes for a guest to go “through the experience” from the time they enter the door or join a que in the drive thru until the order is in his/her hands. The quicker the through-put the more orders can be completed and therefore more revenues can be achieved. So understanding your through-put is a crucial step when creating and designing certain restaurant concepts.
39 minutes | Sep 6, 2021
Restaurants Done Freddy's Way
What is it that makes a restaurant, any restaurant, stand out above the competition? Quite simply, it is making sure you can deliver on your basics…meaning the promises of good food and drinks, a comfortable atmosphere and service that makes the guest feel like they belong. Scott Redler is a co-founder of the Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers chain and currently he’s also their CXO (that’s chief experience officer by the way, a rare label for a position responsible for how the guest perceives the experience.) In case you may be somewhere without a Freddy’s, it’s a 400-unit chain and one of the major combatants in the fast casual burger wars going on right now with competitors like Culver’s, Shake Shack and several others. Since we recorded this, i made it into one of the four “Freddy’s” units in the twin cities. And I gotta say the things you’ll hear from Scott about teaching the attention to some very important details like; steam coming out of the burger when you bite first bite into it… or having crisp very hot fries that hit the basket just seconds before it’s handed to you are exactly what I witnessed for myself. In fact, i watched the operation from a strategic table near the open kitchen for a while, looking for a moment or action that wasn’t “Freddy’s way” as you’ll hear Scott put it. Scott set Freddy’s up for success by following the fundamentals of serving good food in a comfortable atmosphere with attentive service.
46 minutes | Aug 6, 2021
Rich Melman in Conversation
This is Richard Melman, founder of the Chicago based multi-concept restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises with over 120 restaurants in operation now and several more on the drawing board. The conversation, at times, sounded just like a couple of guys who have not talked in awhile. Each reminiscing about the old days. But there are also peeks into how the mind of this very creative and successful restaurateur views surviving and flourishing in a very tough industry.
20 minutes | Jul 14, 2021
Restaurant Owners…Raise Your Prices!
Well…your back in action now aren’t you. Your dining room can be loaded up the way it used to be over a year ago. Your relieved that you made it through with a little help from the government. Your landlord may have worked out a deal to let you pay off un-paid back rent. And it was the good will of the loyal customers who called every night for a pick-up or delivery order that kept the lights on and some of your staff employed. But there are some other problems nagging at you that came out of left field and caught you unaware and without a plan. The staff you were hoping would be itching to get back to work has vanished. The ground beef you were buying a year ago March is now 50% higher than it was then and your supplier can only bring it to you once a week because he doesn’t have enough drivers to cover the regular routes. So you can’t bring all the tables back. You need to re-price your menu to cover the increasing food costs. And the menu needs to be reduced because you don’t have enough hands to produce all the wonderful food that made up your menu. There are answers, we just need to keep swinging for the fences and we’ll find them. Tipping vs No-Tipping P&L Samples Kyatchi 6Smith Restaurant Baldamar Augustine Music; Timeout Spaceout – Erik Vanderwestern Outlaw’s Farewell (part three) – Reed Mathis Sunday Stroll – Huma Huma
37 minutes | Jun 7, 2021
Top Chef Fabio Viviani; On Restaurants, Economics and Good Deeds
A 30-minute Skype call is not meant to reveal the true colors or inner soul. If it does have a specific purpose, I would guess it to be a way to make contact and maybe…maybe expose a tiny crack to glimpse the real person sitting at the screen on the other side. If there is one thing to come away with from this brief encounter is that the “less is more” axiom does not exist in the Viviani universe. He’s a handful of lightning yet fun and charming all along the way. Fabio Viviani has harbored a passion for food since his childhood growing up in Florence, Italy. Between training in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine at top hospitality schools. Viviani also owned, operated and successfully executed several concepts in Florence by the time he was 27, including two nightclubs and five restaurants. Fabio Viviani Hospitality Group has opened 34 restaurants to date, and in the next 18 months is scheduled to open 14 more venues, including 5 Hotels in partnerships with different operators. Best known for his participation in Bravo’s Top Chef seasons 5 and 8 - earning the “Fan Favorite” title - his onscreen appearances and off-screen successes have propelled him to become one of the most influential culinary and hospitality names in the country. Chef Fabio Viviani Website Colbie’s Southern Kissed Kitchen Fabio Viviani Chef Reel – Top Chef Music; Carry Your Own Weight – Forget the Whale Five Shades of Blue – Five Shades of Blue Blue Midnight – Blues Jam
46 minutes | Jun 1, 2021
Restaurant Bar Spirits; Diageo's Heather Chaney
The makers and sellers of your favorite adult beverages approach their relationship with the hospitality venues buying their product in a different way than any other vendor we deal with. We rarely see a representative of the cattle ranch come into the restaurant talking about new trending beef recipes and bringing a cut of beef to put on display. But every day an "On Premise Manager" representing just about every bottle behind the bar does exactly that. Their job is to get you to use more of their brand than any other. One company, Diageo the worlds largest producer of spirits and beers, has created an extremely successful way of doing just that. They have created ways of getting involved with owners, managers, servers and bartenders through programs like the Diageo Bar Academy (a robust web site with bar management education, recipes, product information) and a program educating bars to create unforgettable experiences through competition, studios and community involvement called World Class. And these are only a few of the many ways Diageo uses. Heather Chaney is one of those spirit (or spirited) managers representing Diageo wherever and however is needed. Our chat reveals just a few of the ways her work with Diageo has aided and is continuing to help restaurants and bars get back on their feet after the yearlong pandemic break. Diageo Diageo Bar Academy World Class Music; Modern Jazz Samba – Kevin Mcleod The Jazz Piano – Bensound Flagpole Sitta – Harvey Danger
44 minutes | May 15, 2021
Food Hall Entrepreneur; Dave Buddecke
One advantage to being a serial entrepreneur is that you’re probably going to seize upon the next great idea way before anyone else really knows anything about it because you walk around with your antennae up all the time. Well, that’s how Twin Falls Idaho got 2nd South Market and how Dave Buddecke got his next entrepreneurial challenge. The food hall is not a new concept. But in its current incarnation they seem to be popping up all over the place. In some markets maybe a few too many. But the basic premise is to offer a variety of food, beverages and sometimes entertainment under one roof. There’s no one model that everyone is trying to emulate. And that’s a good thing because what works in one building in one city wont necessarily work in the next city or neighborhood. 2nd South Market – Twin Falls, Idaho Music; Totally Looped – Audionautix #diageobaracademy
47 minutes | May 9, 2021
The Restaurant Madhouse Explained with Ken Mcgarrie
“Who’s the leader of this madhouse?” I’m not totally convinced this sentiment is exclusive to the restaurant industry…but it’s a phrase spoken often in bars, dining rooms and kitchens all over the country. Ken Mcgarrie was hearing it as well and it drove him to complete a 20 year back of the shelf project that’s become The Surprise Restaurant Manager. A book of advice on the procedures and processes of successfully managing a restaurant filled with the life lessons and practical recommendations that can be an aide to both the novice and the seasoned pro. The Surprise Restaurant Manager on Amazon Korgen Hospitality – Ken’s consulting group Music; I Have A Reservation – Track Tribe
41 minutes | May 2, 2021
Restaurant Growth and Micha Magid
Micha Magid knew what was missing in midtown Manhattan barbecue when he launched Mighty Quinn several years ago. The others that had come before ignored their sense of place. Barbecue shouldn’t be a Disney ride built to convince the guest they’re about to experience another time and place. To connect it has to be as real as you can make it. Mighty Quinn is about local connections for both meat and smoke. It’s a restaurant company that champions sustainability and recycling by selling soap made from the byproduct of their butchered meats. We first talked last April at the beginning of the shutdown. (see Mighty Quinn ’s Micha Magid; Restaurant Life After the Lockdown) The chain was hunkering down to learn how to survive but had also already began their growth plans. They are now thriving and moving into 4th gear to complete the franchises that were already in the pipeline as well as preparing new franchisees to join the barbecue family. Mighty Quinn's BBQ Music; I Have A Reservation - Track Tribe Diageo Bar Academy
53 minutes | Apr 23, 2021
Sandwich Impresario Ike Shehadeh
A restaurateur is an entrepreneur that has something special and different about them. And as my own informally collected data suggests, the men and women in this category possess a fire somewhere inside fueling their drive to create and build a business that transcends the ordinary wealth making machine. Ike Shehadeh of Ike’s Love & Sandwiches is such a restaurateur building an empire with the teachings of frugal parents, a streak of civil disobedience and a “nothing but the best” attitude toward hospitality and great food. Ike’s Love & Sandwiches is known for its world-famous Dutch Crunch bread lathered in Ike’s Secret Dirty Sauce. With unique flavor pairings fit for vegans, carnivores, gluten-free diets and everyone in between, there’s something for everyone to love at Ike’s. At the Las Vegas location, you can score a “High Roller” sandwich made with premium meats for $100. Ike’s Love & Sandwiches USBG presents World Class sponsored by Diageo Bar Academy
46 minutes | Apr 8, 2021
The Ghost In The Machine; Rishi Nigam of Franklin Junction
Franklin Junction bills itself as a mixture of Airbnb and Match.com — but for restaurants. The platform finds kitchens with extra capacity and matches them with brands that want to expand into new locations. Franklin Junction launched in 2020, but it’s been in development for two years. The industry was under capacity by 15 to 20 percent before COVID-19. If you know anything about the retail business, it's all at the margin. If you fill up that last 15 or 20 percent, you make a lot of money. All your fixed costs are covered already. So, can I sell food for other people? The difference between innovating your own food and other people's food is: You get the benefit of the other person's branding! Franklin Junction is a digital platform that allows restaurants to monetize excess kitchen and storage capacity by serving as "Host Kitchens™." Host facilities are matched with a thoughtfully curated roster of crave-able menu items from great restaurant concepts, allowing the Host to increase revenue and hosted brands to expand geographic reach without capital expenditure. Franklin Junction's proprietary matching process has allowed for an industry-best time to profit for their clients. For more information, visit www.franklinjunction.com. How to Save Restaurants? Meet "the Airbnb and Match.com of Food" – Jason Feifer, Entrepreneur.com, May 12, 2020
40 minutes | Mar 27, 2021
Restaurant Recipe Management; Josh Sharkey’s Meez
Restaurant Recipe Management; Josh Sharkey’s Meez Burning ideas get snuffed out in the miasma of defeat. But it’s also defeat that sometimes raise simple ideas to brilliance. Mis En Place is a kitchen phrase that means “everything in it’s place”. The generation of a digital method to manage recipes for a restaurant is here and there are quite a few ways to manage your mis en place. When Josh Sharkey lost his bible of culinary notes gleaned from some of the top kitchens in New York it set in motion the need to develop Meez a recipe tool for the professional Chef. Josh began cooking in restaurants around age 16 then went on to culinary school and cooking full-time. As was, and still is, the custom in many professional kitchens, everything you learn is kept in your own little spiral notebook. Its where you kept your ideas, what you were learning, and what you were eating and tasting. For Josh, one little spiral notebook turned into 2, then 5, and soon, more than he could count. This was the genesis of a recipe and note keeping software called Meez. Meez Recipe Tool Aurify Music; Epic and Rock n Roll – Black Rhomb https://www.premiumbeat.com SPONSOR Diageo Bar Academy USBG World Class Competition
62 minutes | Mar 15, 2021
The Bar Stories of Neyah White
What does it take to let the world know who you are and why you’re here? Existential questions that have plagued mankind forever. Along life’s journey we take the turns that lead us along a path. Some turns are handed to us or even forced upon us while others are all of our own making. To understand this and live a life based on this understanding is a good description of Neyah White. The story he tells in our conversation is not so much a unique tale as it is a clear roadmap that led Neyah from the eastern shore of Maryland to a place behind a bar in San Francisco that opened the world to him. A small step that led to the wide world of cocktails as an innovator in the craft style of mixing that now permeates the better bars around the world. Then becoming a brand ambassador for Suntory Whiskey. A job that not only helped spread the word of mixology (and his humorous attitude toward the word) but also immersed him the modern Japanese culture. Then now recently back to his hometown of Chestertown, Maryland to build a business in a bar that many years ago he told the owner he would own someday. There were too many great parts of his story that couldn’t be left on the editing room floor. So, enjoy a short bonus track of his early years only at www.restaurantlegends.com Photo; Neyah White and Thomas Kaylor https://edibledelmarva.ediblecommunities.com Music; Shizima3 by PeriTune | http://peritune.com Attriibution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
52 minutes | Feb 17, 2021
The Restaurant You Didn’t Know You Needed; Apola Greek Grill
There’s a moment in the life of every restaurant owner when he knows that “I can do it better than any other restaurant out there”. If that thought doesn’t exist at the core of your motivation, then you’re in the wrong business. Yiannni Kosmides had that Eureka moment when he couldn’t find the Gyros (YEE-rohs) he knew from his native Greece. Nothing he tried had the same level of quality he remembered nor the unique construction that made it a true Greek Gyro. Coming from a restaurant family helped Yianni create and devise Apola, the burgeoning franchise centered on, as he puts it…”The most Authentic Greek Gyro you can get without buying a plane ticket!” Apola Greek Grill Music; The Port of Piraeus - Konstantinos Bouzouki Orchestra
38 minutes | Feb 8, 2021
A Boy and His Bar; Alexander Strauss and The Night Owl
The dream of hosting a party every night playing the hippest music and pouring the perfect cocktail usually strikes someone after they’ve spent a few years toiling in the hospitality industry. Alexander was no different. His experiences prepared him well to deal with the pressures and restrictions put on a bar owner today in the age of COVID. As a 5-year-old, Alexander created a detailed floor plan of a bar complete with handicap bathrooms. So, after spending time working with some of the best in the industry including the legendary Sasha Petraske, father of the craft cocktail movement, Alexander found his way to come home to upstate New York and build the bar he dreamed as a child. Alexander Strauss’ journey had so many wonderful stories, we had to put a bonus track only available on the RL&L website. It details the path of the early years that brought him to the Night Owl in Saratoga Springs. The Night Owl – Saratoga Springs Sasha Petraske- Wikipedia Tao Beach – Las Vegas Music; Hedge Your Bets – Track Tribe
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