We support operators across every phase of the business life cycle.

Restaurant Operators

At every stage of the business life cycle, a foodservice operation faces a unique set of challenges and opportunities: from the growing pains of emerging brands to the reinvigoration efforts that keep declining concepts from becoming distressed. We leverage our experience across the life of an operation to help leaders define the best path forward for their organizations, shaving decades off the development cycle. 

Measure twice, cut once.

Thousands of decisions go into opening a single restaurant. It requires expertise in everything from pricing and positioning to construction administration and accounting principles. Even those who have developed dozens of prototypes or opened hundreds of locations can struggle to make these decisions with each grand opening.

If foodservice businesses fail, it’s likely due to lack of capital or lack of management. A successful new concept requires the right funding and capabilities, but it should also be motivated by an idea that expresses the passion of its founder and fills an unmet need or underserved market segment. 

We help start-up companies with concept development by creating business plans, financial models and pro forma, and brand identity and strategy, ensuring they have the right targets and can confidently move forward without fear of having underestimated cost or timing. 

While we have built many new concepts from the ground up, our firm now concentrates primarily on existing, multinational organizations with multi-brand portfolios and a minimum of $20m in annual revenue.

It’s easier to ride a wild stallion than drag a dead horse.

For emerging brands, expansion is not as easy as just adding water — or, perhaps more aptly, just adding capital. After proof of concept has been achieved and a brand has proven itself viable for scalability and replicability beyond a handful of locations, emerging concepts require many upgrades to strengthen and stabilize their foundations. If these actions aren’t taken early on, the cost of all the lost potential far exceeds the amount saved by moving too fast.

Prioritizing where to allocate capital and resources can be one of the biggest challenges for organizations in this position. It may be tempting to believe that the work can be done just once, with a “set it and forget it” mentality. But successful and long-lasting businesses continuously update and upgrade their operations, marketing, technology, and human resources capabilities. Most likely, each business function can — and should — keep getting smarter.

Many emerging concepts work with a skeleton team that’s stretched far too thin; we help determine how and where allocating capital can make the most impact. We help augment functional areas during periods of growth, leveraging higher levels of resources for shorter stretches of time rather than potentially bloating an organizational chart unsustainably.

From emerging to emerged.

Rising through the ranks and establishing a company often comes with the need for a more experienced and seasoned management team and a fuller organizational chart. As the operation grows, process and procedures will have been well documented and established across functional areas, from location strategy and construction to contract administration and finance systems.

This stage also frequently means that the company culture has started to evolve, often with a greater emphasis on maintaining the organization’s status than on applying the same kind of thinking and intensity of effort that pushed the company from emerging to established. From this stable and secure foundation, we support further improvements to and institutionalization of best practices, expansion in new markets — whether across the country or on a foreign continent — growth through mergers and acquisitions, franchise or license partner identification, new products and profit centers.

Playing to win versus playing not to lose.

While mature brands enjoy stability and security, many fall prey to crisis or stasis: outside factors can negatively impact the company’s reputation, and the desire to maintain its position can overpower the need to stay current with changing industry trends and consumer demands.

The good and bad of corporate politics and governance may also have begun to set in, which can lead to company-wide inertia, especially among brands that don’t renew their relevance to the consumer and markets they serve. We help mature organizations contextualize external conditions, identify areas of growth, review and evaluation their portfolios, and validate or challenge assumptions and the status quo. 

Our insight and support protects (or, in some cases, recovers) a brand’s reputation to help it stay relevant and ahead of the competition. This can help ensure a brand preserves what was built in the past while still making innovations for the future.

Efforts toward massive change do not have to be
massively painful processes.

When businesses fail to go through the processes of iterative refinement, renewal, and continual improvement, they can start a slow drift to decline that can turn into a full free fall if not actions. The loss of morale, market share, and industry standing ripples throughout the organization, leaving employees disengaged and long-time guests trying out new options. In some cases, this slump can be accelerated by artificial efforts to stimulate sales, like discount-driven promotional activities: desperate acts that seem helpful in the short-term but in fact damage the long-term value proposition.

Despite the downturn, employees throughout the organization often remember the brand in its heyday and are ready and waiting to restore it to its former prominence. We help find and enable these individuals, providing them not only the tools, technologies, competencies, and capabilities but, more importantly, the insights that can lead to reinvigoration and revitalization. We work with leaders to marshal resources, cascading and aligning objectives and efforts from the crew to the CEO.

We arm companies with everything they need to undertake a full transformation initiative, guiding them with plans for where to shrink and where to grow, identifying and potentially dismissing underperforming personnel and business units while amplifying the core aspects of the brand that made it successful in the first place.

Show me a great company, and I’ll show you one that’s radically reinvented itself and looks forward to the opportunity of doing so again.

Trouble can strike even the best, most successful companies. There are many examples of restaurant chains that were hollowed out to shells of their former selves, even though the categories in which they operated were thriving. The true tragedy is when a distressed brand fades away entirely, especially when there were still steps and measures that might have saved it.

Most often, these organizations did not anticipate or respond to where the market, business, and consumer were headed. Turning around distressed brands requires tremendous professional discipline, financial fortitude, and experience captaining a sinking ship to safety. We can investigate, evaluate, and provide strategic triage and turnaround plans that will help re-engage key stakeholders — from investors to crew members — and get brands back on track.