213 episodes

Restaurant Business is the leading media brand in the commercial foodservice industry, with a focus on entrepreneurship, innovation and growth.

A Deeper Dive Restaurant Business Magazine

    • Business

Restaurant Business is the leading media brand in the commercial foodservice industry, with a focus on entrepreneurship, innovation and growth.

    How restaurants are combating a historically challenging environment

    How restaurants are combating a historically challenging environment

    How is the restaurant industry dealing with the difficult operating environment?

    This week’s episode of the Restaurant Business podcast A Deeper Dive features an interview with Michelle Korsmo, who took over as CEO of the National Restaurant Association in May.

    Korsmo discusses her career to date. She has worked in public policy at the state and federal levels and most recently was chief executive of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America before taking over the top post at the association.

    Korsmo discusses the state of the industry at the moment. And she talks about the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and why the U.S. Small Business Administration is sitting on $180 million in leftover funding. The SBA may release those funds. She also talks about balancing the needs of those small restaurants with those of large chains. There is also a discussion on so-called “shrinkflation.”

    • 29 min
    Why Charlie Morrison left Wingstop for an upstart

    Why Charlie Morrison left Wingstop for an upstart

    Why would you leave a 1,800-unit chicken wing chain for a salad upstart?

    This week’s episode of the Restaurant Business podcast A Deeper Dive seeks to answer that question. It features Charlie Morrison, now the CEO of the nearly-60-unit Salad and Go.

    Morrison is the now-former CEO of Wingstop, which he led for nearly a decade, growing it from 500 locations to about 1,800 units and helping to turn it into a powerhouse, one that would spawn dozens of competitors during the pandemic.

    We asked him about that decision to leave that position to head up a chain of drive-thru salad restaurants that was relatively little known for the most part outside of its core market. He explains the move. And then we spend a lot of time talking about Salad and Go.

    Morrison talks about the concept and why it’s able to sell its salads for just $6. He explains the growth strategy and why now is the time for a drive-thru-only salad chain.

    • 26 min
    Taco Bell’s COO on its ‘Defy’ drive-thru prototype and the Mexican Pizza

    Taco Bell’s COO on its ‘Defy’ drive-thru prototype and the Mexican Pizza

    How was Taco Bell able to get its latest prototype from idea to operating in less than two years?

    This week’s episode of the Restaurant Business podcast A Deeper Dive features Mike Grams, the chief operating officer for the Mexican fast-food chain, to talk about a variety of topics, from franchising to the reaction to its Mexican Pizza.

    That includes its fancy new Defy prototype, the one that features four drive-thru lanes, three of them for mobile orders. The prototype was opened this summer less than two years after the local franchisee brought the idea to Taco Bell.

    Grams talks about that story, which is interesting and helps explain the chain’s success. Taco Bell franchisees have generally been with the brand for a long time and the value of their restaurants is at record levels, in part because of the company’s willingness to let them lead the way on some of its new store ideas.

    Mike also talks about labor issues and how these new stores fit into that. He also talks about the Mexican Pizza, why that was taken off the menu and why the company had to pull it back. He discusses supply chain issues, food costs and other topics.

    • 27 min
    How an Iranian immigrant figured out the pizza business

    How an Iranian immigrant figured out the pizza business

    Shahpour Nejad came to the U.S. to get his college degree. Instead he became a pizza guy.

    This week’s episode of the Restaurant Business podcast A Deeper Dive features Nejad, the CEO and cofounder of the Sacramento-based Pizza Guys, who discusses his personal history, the formation of his chain and its growth strategies.

    Nejad’s parents sent him to the U.S. in the late 1970s when he was just 16, so he could go to school. The Iranian Revolution kept him here, and he ended up working with a pizza concept. We’ll let him tell you the rest of the story on the podcast, but it ultimately led him to create Pizza Guys out of Sacramento.

    Today, the west coast chain has more than 70 locations and after years of slow and deliberate growth it is planning to get much bigger.

    Nejad talks about the company’s story and his reasons for that slow and deliberate growth, and what his plans are going forward. But his personal story is fascinating.

    • 29 min
    A look into Subway’s new menu, and whether it will further the brand’s turnaround

    A look into Subway’s new menu, and whether it will further the brand’s turnaround

    Subway has made yet another massive change to its menu. Will it work?

    This week’s episode of the Restaurant Business podcast A Deeper Dive features Pat Cobe, the senior menu editor for RB, in a discussion about Subway’s latest menu chane.

    Subway last year overhauled its menu with an “eat fresh refresh,” an upgrade of numerous ingredients, including its bread. Some longtime operators who recall the chain’s decision in the late 1990s to go with a more traditional split bread approach—rather the trench it used to dig into the bread—as a bigger deal.

    This month, the company introduced a set of 12 new sandwiches that are designed to operate as its core menu. The company will work to focus customers’ attention on those sandwiches, rather than its countertop with all its ingredients. The goal is to shift away from the customized menu that had been its trademark.

    Will it work? It may be vital for Subway’s future. Subway has closed about 6,000 units in the past eight years. Its unit volumes even after improving strongly in 2021 remain low and a number of locations are still underperforming pre-pandemic levels. Getting more people into Subway more often is vital.

    In this case, that could mean going away from customization, which Pat and I talk about at length. The two of us attended a tasting of its new menu and we talk about what it could mean for Subway’s future, and why a fully customized Subway menu may not be quite as beneficial as people think.

    • 34 min
    How Layne’s Chicken Fingers hopes to become the next big thing

    How Layne’s Chicken Fingers hopes to become the next big thing

    How do you turn a well-loved local restaurant into a hot national concept?

    This week’s episode of the Restaurant Business podcast A Deeper Dive features Garrett Reed, CEO of Layne’s Chicken Fingers, to talk about his efforts to take that step.

    Layne’s was founded near Texas A&M in College Station, Texas, in 1994. Reed and a partner later purchased the brand, intending on turning it into a franchise. The company currently has nine locations but has deals for many, many more.

    Reed discusses that transition and about how the company has sold so many franchises this quickly. He also talks about the brand’s unique franchising strategy and how that should, hopefully, maintain culture even as the concept grows. He also discusses why that culture is important to a brand like Layne’s.

    • 28 min

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