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with Jorge Hermez

Jorge Hermez dives into stories with industry experts to discuss the intersection between retail and technology.

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Episode 031, August 5, 2020


Austin Smith, Savory Fund

Talk Highlights

  • People are what makes or breaks a brand
  • Learning from others’ stories and best practices in the restaurant industry
  • Focusing on creating happy employees will, in turn, create happy customers

Speaker Bio

Austin’s career an operator at Four Foods Group’s first location opened with Kneaders Bakery and Cafe. He was able to experience first-hand the operational side of restaurants, something that many other investors do not have. Austin was one of Four Foods Group’s first employees and was able to help grow the brand from the ground up. While there, he led the acquisition and integration of many food and beverage brands and developed over $100 million in commercial retail real estate.

Austin now serves as an investor with Savory Restaurant Fund, which is partnering with high potential emerging restaurants to facilitate their growth into multi-unit brands.

Show Notes

  • 0:43 - Austin’s story with Four Foods Group
  • 2:43 - What he wishes he knew about the food industry at the beginning of his career
  • 4:15 - The importance of building a strong relationship with partnerships
  • 5:02 - The order of focus that should be given to investors, customers, and employees
  • 8:35 - How Four Foods Group encourages tenure for employees
  • 12:25 - Austin’s favorite part about working with restaurants
  • 15:15 - How restaurants are pivoting for post-COVID new norm
  • 19:30 - Austin’s take on the future of third-party delivery
  • 20:20 - Restaurantology Conference
  • 20:26 - Rapid Fire

Episode 030, May 27, 2020


David Beitz and George Daigh, Planned Grocery

Talk Highlights

  • Changes to the grocery industry caused by COVID-19
  • Why some grocery stores don’t make it past the planning stages
  • How Planned Grocery came to be

Speaker Bio

David Beitz and George Daigh are co-founders of Beitz and Daigh Geographics, Inc., the company that created Planned Grocery in 2016. Planned Grocery is a data mapping platform company that tracks grocery store real estate development cycles. The platform currently includes over 2,500 locations across the United States that are either proposed, planned, under construction, or built within the last 6 months.

Show Notes

  • 1:03 - The lightbulb moment for Planned Grocery
  • 1:55 - How COVID-19 is affecting grocery store development in different regions
  • 3:04 - Of all grocery stores that are proposed, how many actually open?
  • 4:18 - Common reasons that proposed grocery stores may not open
  • 6:10 - Reasoning behind why some brands may open multiple stores within a short distance of each other
  • 8:07 - Trends around the grocery industry stemmed from the coronavirus
  • 9:46 - Predictions on whether COVID-related operations and procedures will stick long-term
  • 11:11 - Grocery delivery experiences
  • 11:56 - How grocery delivery will affect brick and mortar locations
  • 14:00 - The future of big-box stores and how it relates to grocery
  • 15:56 - Evolution of GIS over the last decade and what the future may look like
  • 21:00 - Rapid fire questions

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Episode 029, May 8, 2020


Anonymous Restaurant Professional

Talk Highlights

  • The advantage of having offered delivery pre-pandemic 
  • Optimizing new and existing sites to be off-premise friendly
  • The biggest issues on the minds of many restaurant professionals

Speaker Bio

Show Notes

  • 0:42 - How restaurants are working around the challenge of paying rent during the pandemic.
  • 5:17 - The operational differences between offering delivery before and during the coronavirus.
  • 7:18 - Mistakes that were made that have caused a toll on business today.
  • 9:40 - How delivery has given the opportunity to reach new guests.
  • 10:50 - Optimizing sites to be more off-premise friendly 
  • 13:09 - Changing the menu options and operational strategies to be practical for off-premise dining.
  • 15:12 - Biggest challenges and issues on the top of this guest’s mind.
  • 17:40 - The challenges of offering alcohol for off-premise sales.

Episode 028, April 23, 2020


Jim Mizes, Blaze & SiteZeus

Talk Highlights

  • Examples of the initiatives restaurants have taken to reach customers in new ways.
  • What restaurant professionals should be doing to ensure they make it to the other side.
  • How the future of the restaurant business will look.

Speaker Bio

Jim Mizes started his career in the retail industry as a young man working at his father’s pharmacy. He then went to school and received a degree in accounting and began working in typical finance jobs. After realizing that accounting wasn’t what brought him joy, Jim joined Taco Bell as a general manager and quickly worked his way up to their VP of operations. In 1989, Jim repositioned the brand’s 59, 79, 99 campaign and saw a 60% growth in same-store sales. After building up several restaurant brands, Jim finally joined Blaze Pizza where he grew the brand from 2 stores to over 340 in only 6 and a half years.

Jim is now retired and recently joined SiteZeus’ board of directors to continue to help retail and restaurant brands grow into new markets.

Show Notes

  • 1:40 - Jim’s take on where retail is allocating funds during this time
  • 2:55 - Initiatives restaurants are taking to pivot their strategies with no dine-in 
  • 5:00 - How restaurants can prepare for business after COVID-19
  • 6:50 - What restauranteurs can do to maintain funds and get to the other side 
  • 9:40 - How non-leadership positions can add value to their company
  • 12:30 - Is there an advantage for those restaurant brands who own their real estate?
  • 13:30 - Jim’s prediction on what the future of the restaurant business looks like
  • 15:15 - Quickfire - COVID-19 edition!

Episode 027, February 26, 2020


Fred LeFranc, Results Thru Strategy

Talk Highlights

  • Things that Fred learned from his mentors, like Rich Melman from Lettuce Entertain You, and how it molded him into the business consultant he is today
  • How technology advancements disrupted the industry - both in front-of-house and in the kitchen
  • How restaurants can improve the experience for their customers

Speaker Bio

Fred LeFranc originally began his career in the restaurant industry in Chicago at Lettuce Entertainment Expertise. He then worked with El Torito when the brand had only 18 restaurants, which lead to opening a restaurant in Laguna Beach and growing it to 250 locations. Fred has worked as CEO for over half-a-dozen restaurants. When he recognized that the industry was entering an era of creative destruction, Fred decided to open his business, Results Thru Strategy.

Working as a Chaos Strategist with Results Thru Strategy, Fred finds order in disorder working with entrepreneurs, investors, and c-suite executives. Helping companies find their purpose that resonates with each team member that makes the company who they are. He believes that trust and discretion is what makes his business relationships last long. Working with both big and small brands, he provides guidance and strategy to be a successful business no matter the hardship.

Show Notes

  • 0:50 - How Fred began his journey in the restaurant industry starting with Lettuce Entertain You all the way to his own company, Results Thru Strategy.
  • 3:22 - The impact Rich from Lettuce Entertain You had on Fred and how this molded him into the consultant he is today.
  • 6:11 - Types of technology Fred was using when he first started at LEY.
  • 7:35 - Fred’s mantra around the relationship between technology and the restaurant industry.
  • 7:50 - Fred explains his passion for working in a chaotic environment and finding order within the disorder.
  • 9:29 - Advice Fred would share for anyone entering the industry.
  • 10:33 - How pagers changed the way casual dining operated and added efficiency.
  • 11:57 - Fred describes different kitchen technologies that emerged before many front-of-house innovations.
  • 12:17 - The technology revolution and things that have come up over the last 15 years.
  • 13:44 - Fred’s thoughts on how 5G will impact the industry.
  • 15:04 - The restaurant industry’s reaction to innovation. Were restaurants quick to shift or weary of new changes?
  • 17:02 - How Fred created a foundation for healthy growth at El Torito’s.
  • 19:31 - Mentors that taught Fred important lessons around guest experience.
  • 21:06 - The importance of tech companies speaking around benefits rather than how the technology works.
  • 21:51 - Fred’s experience working with Sweet Tomato and how they worked to improve their guest experience.
  • 24:21 - Fred explains why he focuses on the guest’s multi-sensory experience at any restaurant.
  • 25:47 - Rapid Fire