Josh Kopel | Award Winning Restaurant Consultant

Restaurant Profitability: Mastering the Pivot with Iron Chef Eric Greenspan

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Restaurant Margins

Chef Eric Greenspan is probably best known for his appearances on big tv shows like Iron Chef America. What most folks don’t know is the resilience required for Eric to carve out a place for himself within this industry. On today’s show, Chef Greenspan shares his greatest successes, worst defeats and the lessons learned from each.

5 Day Restaurant Profitability Challenge

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5 Day Restaurant Profitability Challenge


  • 9/11 caused Eric’s first major pivot
  • Worked at high end restaurant in New York
  • After 9/11, the owners told staff they will no longer pay them but they can work for free
  • Found this to be a distasteful way of dealing with crisis
  • Creating his own opportunities
  • Saw two positions advertised for line cooks
  • Offered to do both jobs for 1.5 pay
  • Seizing new opportunity despite a major life change
  • Was offered Sous chef position at Patina which quickly became an exec chef position
  • From 9/11 crisis to Exec chef at Patina in 8 months
  • How to deal with adversity
  • Believing that there is always an opportunity around the corner
  • Paying attention to the signals that opportunities may be on their way
  • Taking jobs that you don’t feel ready for
  • Not passing up the opportunity, ready or not
  • Having confidence to figure it out
  • Finding the right work environment
  • Conclusion: working for other people was not the right working environment
  • Had to find a new more autonomous working environment
  • Eric was unable to adapt to the corporate structure at Patina imposing boundaries on his work
  • Became a partner at another restaurant but also left quickly
  • The value of teaching as a chef
  • The greatest chefs are great teachers
  • Teachers allows you to hone skills of your staff and push them to excellence
  • Uncovering every possible avenue to get what you want
  • Potential restaurant space needed $25k to extend the lease
  • Did not give up on trying to save the money despite very limited time frame.
  • Asked friends and family
  • Sold car on eBay
  • First restaurant was hit by the recession and writers’ strike
  • Surviving during crisis
  • Running many promotions per week to attract customers
  • Bought food from restaurant depots
  • Businesses don’t succeed because you become famous
  • Restaurant business success keys
  • Being well run
  • Being in the right place
  • Being well funded
  • Making money in the restaurant business is having multiple restaurants
  • Success with Cloud Kitchens
  • Creating multiple brands with different concepts
  • All food from the multiple brands cooked and fulfilled by same staff
  • No front-of-house
  • Delivery only model
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