Josh Kopel | Award Winning Restaurant Consultant

Restaurant Profitability: Mastering the Pivot with Mark Canlis

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Restaurant Margins

On today’s show we chat with Mark Canlis, made famous by transforming his Michelin-starred restaurant into a bagel stand and burger joint saving jobs and his restaurant.

When the pandemic hit, the conventional wisdom in the industry was to shut down and hoard cash. Mark did the exact opposite, pivoting his fine dining restaurant into 3 casual concepts, almost overnight. Today we discuss the idea behind such a bold move, how it worked out and what the future looks like for the Canlis family and their restaurant.

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  • How much to invest where
  • Before then worked for Danny Meyer
  • Been in restaurants for 20 years
  • Incorporated other family members into the business
  • Fine dining is the most considered way of caring about people with food
  • Conventional response from fine dining restaurants when Covid hit
  • How it felt to pivot
  • A trainwreck that has somehow stayed on the track
  • Hardest and most rewarding thing they’ve ever done
  • Hugely grateful for the team and city who have supported
  • Mission at Canlis
  • Began by listing strengths and weaknesses
  • 150 employees who are all in
  • Located on a freeway – drive-through potential
  • What can we be thankful for?
  • What assets do we have?
  • Pivoting into three tiers of dining
  • Restaurant encouraged customers to see that life goes on
  • Losing money immediately after Covid lockdown
  • Canceled 3 months of reservations in March
  • Refunding 1000 reservations
  • Having an amazing team on your side
  • Didn’t lose any staff
  • Incredible energy of the staff to keep things running
  • Letting the creativity and work ethic of the team run free
  • National attention due to ingenuity of their pivot
  • Esquire magazine wrote about them
  • Amazing to be noticed
  • One story in a sea of one thousand stories
  • Now is the time to try
  • Racial inequality in America
  • Inspiring to see people try something so hard
  • Trying imperfectly is better than not doing anything at all
  • Showing up 90% of the battle
  • In the restaurant business, you never know what you are doing
  • Show up and put in everything in this today
  • Review the results tomorrow to improve
  • How Mark got through the pivoting process
  • He was in the military during 9/11
  • It was comforting to have a mission
  • Feel less helpless
  • During Covid, having the mission of keeping staff felt less helpless
  • Prioritizing the present
  • One day at a time
  • Future is less important than the present
  • You don’t need to have the answers
  • Be present with the community, city, family, staff
  • Hospitality has roots in making space for the other
  • How do we carry this value into the future?
  • How do we help those who are needy?
  • A-ha moments during the pandemic
  • Becoming more vulnerable and less polished

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