Josh Kopel | Award Winning Restaurant Consultant

Restaurant Margins

Restaurant Margins: Top Chef Joe Sasto’s Path Forward

We’ve had months to discuss what we miss about the restaurant industry, what about what we don’t miss? What parts of us and this industry should we leave behind? On today’s show, we chat with Chef Joe Sasto, a renaissance man charting a new path in the industry through pop-ups, pasta classes & underground events. Together we’ll ask the tough questions and try and find the path forward.

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  • Working at Quince
  • Working at Lazy Bear
  • Work culture translates to your guest experience
  • You can taste bad energy and stress
  • You can still execute Michelin star quality with a happier work environment
  • Greatest mentor was Jason Berthold
  • Worked at The French Laundry
  • Inspired his team by leading by example
  • Extreme passion for his work
  • Commanded level of respect without asking for it
  • Joe thinks back to him when inspiring his own team
  • Being a chef doesn’t automatically demand respect
  • Respect is earned via good leadership
  • Journey to working in Michelin star restaurants
  • Won Aspen Food & Win 2013
  • Worked in an environment that was pushing for higher covers
  • He didn’t find this fulfilling
  • Took 8 weeks backpacking around Europe with his brother
  • Discovered his goals
  • Decided to refine his technique in Michelin star restaurants
  • Working unconventionally
  • Started creating pop-ups across the country
  • Does online and in-person food experiences and classes
  • Pop-ups and events are not easy
  • Less stability
  • Pushes creativity
  • Pushes the boundaries of dining
  • Goals for the future
  • Settle down and open restaurants
  • Has a few concepts in mind
  • Biggest hurdle: finding the right market
  • Finding the right market
  • Neighborhood determines success
  • Concerns as a business owner when considering a city
  • There has been a mass exodus from large cities
  • Joe is considering Portland – likes the culture, people, and opportunity
  • The hospitality industry has razor-thin margins so the location must be chosen wisely
  • The importance of sharing your story
  • Sharing Joe’s story was influential and inspiring to others
  • This was even more important during the pandemic
  • The more he shared, the more he could connect with others through food
  • We can feel better about what we are going through by sharing experiences
  • Work-life balance – a major issue in the industry
  • Realizes the importance of mental health
  • We have an opportunity to rebuild with work-life balance in mind
  • Rebuilding with employees in mind
  • Creating structures that favor employees
  • Giving them a voice
  • Our employees make everything happen
  • Changes he would make for his own restaurants
  • Culture of putting employees first
  • Being adaptable and quick to pivot
  • Fast-casual dining with traditional dine-in models for stability and longevity

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