Damian Mogavero is the founder of Avero, a software company that empowers restaurant operators to make decisions about serving their customers and running their businesses. His book The Underground Culinary Tour: How the New Metrics of Today’s Top Restaurants Are Transforming How America Eats introduces readers to the “new guard” of restaurateurs and a unique tour of innovative restaurants in NYC.
What are the greatest challenges to restaurants today?
It’s a dangerous time to be a restaurateur because there’s never been more competition. You’re seeing “urban disloyalty” because of social media; foodies are trying new places all the time. There’s greater competition but also prime cost challenges: food, labor, real estate, etc. For the first time 19 states have increased minimum wage. It’s more important than ever to optimize using data. The best restaurateurs are students of the industry. That’s what the new guard is doing—innovating and adapting.
What metrics are important but generally being overlooked by restaurants?
One example is the equivalent of a baseball card for servers. In Moneyball they were misevaluating the data. It’s the on-base percentage that makes a difference. It’s the same thing in the restaurant business: restaurateurs look at qualitative data, but not quantitative data. Data used to be buried in the POS and spreadsheets. One of the things Avero does is metrics like how often a server sold appetizers or bottles of wine, so it shows where servers need to be trained and what they need to focus on. It helps to see the nuances. In one example a server was selling wines by the glass, not by the bottle, and it turned out she was afraid to open the bottle at the table so she sold glasses instead of bottles.
What restaurant trends are you seeing?
One huge trend is the highest-quality ingredients. Foodies expect it everywhere. In addition to fast casual there are food halls, which are taking advantage of the urban revitalization in neighborhoods. I believe food will be the next real estate anchor, not retailers like Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s. It’s a trend not just in major cities. It’s happening all over. [Read more…]