Josh Kopel | Award Winning Restaurant Consultant

Restaurant Margins

Restaurant Financing: Mastering Hospitality Success with Michael Chernow

The biggest advantage to coming up in the restaurant industry is that it forces you to be innovative. It rare that you have the money you need so you learn to do without or you learn to do it yourself. On today’s show, we chat with chef , TV host, fitness guru and family man Michael Chernow who tears down the veil on our industry, showing the best and worst it has to offer. Chernow leads us on a no-frills tour of the lessons he’s learned at the highest levels of our industry.

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  • NYC is the epicenter of culture and community
  • Community congregates at restaurants and bars
  • 50% capacity is not likely to work in NYC due to low revenue
  • Renegotiating with landlords
  • Tax loophole for landlords if they lose business
  • Landlords don’t want to lose all of their customers
  • Ball is in the operator’s court to renegotiate
  • Could make a big difference to margins
  • Medium article suggests that 19% margins in a restaurant is possible
  • Micahel thinks this is unlikely because of the structure of the restaurant business
  • Poor working conditions in the hospitality industry
  • Many can’t afford health care
  • No 401k
  • No savings
  • Raising prices as unlikely
  • Michael believes people won’t pay more for food
  • Overheads of the restaurant business
  • Labor imbalances
  • Food costs are not coming down
  • Making many brands is not necessarily the way forward
  • Could be more successful opening 1 restaurant every 3-5 years instead of a new concept every 3-5 years
  • Focusing on one restaurant and making it amazing
  • Hard-work can only get you so far
  • In fitness, putting in the work creates 90% of the results
  • In business, many other factors determine success
  • Making good decisions in business
  • Sold equity from Meatball Shop after 5 years
  • Bought a house outside NYC
  • Sold equity from Seamore’s after 3 years
  • Sold in November 2019
  • Lucky that this was just before the pandemic crash
  • Selling equity
  • Equity is only worth something when you sell it
  • Take as much equity as you can whenever you can
  • Lessons from mentors
  • Don’t become a fixture of your business
  • Don’t get too attached to your business
  • Running a sustainable seafood restaurant
  • Passionate about seafood
  • US is working hard on reforming fisheries
  • Oceans are in bad shape globally
  • Grew up fishing as a teenager
  • 90% of fish eaten in America is imported
  • Abundant and sustainable American fish that few people know about e.g dogfish, bluefish
  • Created Seamore’s selling these little known varieties of fish ethically sourced in from American lakes
  • Creating cultures and environments
  • Environment the staff loves working in
  • Attracting great guests
  • Being in the memory-making business
  • Cornell University study

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