Restaurant Rockstars Episode 329

Launching a New Restaurant Concept

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Arguably, starting a new restaurant concept is one of the hardest things you can do!

This is one of the most competitive of all industries, and the details to not only start but successfully run a new operation are endless.

In this episode of the Restaurant Rockstars Podcast, I’m speaking with Chef Brandon Buck of a new restaurant concept called “Crush Yard”. 

We’ve all heard the term “eater-tainment”, and this concept fits the bill!

Listen as Chef Brandon tells us:

  • Where he developed his passion for cooking and early influences
  • What makes this restaurant concept so different and appealing
  • The opening strategy and logistics of starting such a large restaurant concept
  • Curating a new menu for variety, guest appeal and most of all profit
  • The challenges expected ahead and how they plan to overcome obstacles
  • How Crush Yard plans to overcome the labor crisis and rising costs
  • Why “self-pour” beer, wine and drinks is a smart business decision
  • Crush Yard’s plan for onboarding and training team members

And the thousand other details it takes to launch a new restaurant concept!

Listen to Chef Brandon, get inspired, and then go out and Rock YOUR Restaurant!

Roger

Connect with our guest:

https://www.crushyard.com/

Crushyard Instagram: @crush.yard ,

Crushyard Facebook: @crush.yard

Chef Brandon: Instagram: @chsbbuck

0:00
It’s not just pickleball, like the pickleball part is amazing, and it’s gonna be beautiful. You know, we also have food as the attraction. So we want people to come not only for the pickleball, but to feel free that you know you’re coming in and you’re dining at a restaurant you’re going to enjoy, where scratch kitchen, the kitchen, the kitchen is very, very technology driven, very cutting edge technology. So you know, it’s actually going to be pretty amazing because we’ll be able to produce our scratch food with doing a higher volume.

0:31
Welcome back to the restaurant rockstars podcast. So glad you’re with me once again. With me today is Chef Brandon Buck have a brand new concept that’s just opening. So I think you’ll find it really interesting whether you’ve got a restaurant, and you’re really looking to take it to the next level. Because a lot of this is going to be about branding, but it’s also about that new restaurant about putting all the pieces in place to open the doors. We’re going to be talking about the culture they hope to create how they’re going to find labor amidst this labor challenge. All the logistics of training and staffing and onboarding and literally opening for business to put their best foot forward and really dazzle the guest so don’t miss this episode. Thanks again to the sponsors this week Whirks, Smithfield Culinary + Zinch. Now on with the episode.

1:17
You’re tuned in to the restaurant rockstars podcast powerful ideas to rock your restaurant. Here’s your host Roger Beaudoin.

1:32
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2:38
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4:19
Welcome back everyone to the restaurant rockstars podcast with me today chef Brandon buck, and he is opening a brand new concept called Crush yard unique new experience. Can’t wait to talk about that. Welcome to the show. Chef, how are you?

4:33
It’s great to be here.

4:34
I really appreciate your time. Now my audience always knows I love going back as far back as you can recall or your particular experience like how did you first get into the restaurant industry? What were your early influences and then we’re going to talk about cooking.

4:49
So as far as getting into the industry I actually started working for seven Irish brothers at a pub up in Columbia, South Carolina of all places. It was a brewery, and pub. And so I started there as an expediter. And also, dishwashing, believe it or not, so started in dish pit and kind of worked my way up there. And that was my first taste of food and beverage, like in the flesh. So and then, as far as influences on me, one thing that really stuck out to me was, I used to watch a great chef’s on PBS, when I was young. And I would watch it all the time. And I found that, you know, as the episodes went, I was more and more interested in what they were doing. Like, I thought it was amazing. So it was kind of seeing that and, you know, professional chefs and what they did, it kind of just struck a chord with me.

5:52
So that was a natural fit. It sounds like I mean, you got involved as an expediter. And a dishwasher that I started out as dishwasher. So many people start out in this industry in the dish pit and they go really far, you know, with their careers. So you were influenced by by the great chefs on TV and whatnot, where did you get your cooking skills, per se? Did you learn in different positions where you mentor? Did you go to cooking school? Tell us all about that.

6:18
So I learned in multiple positions in the restaurants over the years, the first restaurants that I was involved in were not upscale. And that was one of the reasons why I made the decision to move to Charleston, South Carolina. Actually, one of the episodes of the Great Chef series had Donald Barickman on there, who was the founding chef of magnolias, and then Cypress and blossom. So I ended up moving down here. And then when Cypress was just being built, I interviewed for a job there, and actually got to work under Donald Barickman. And Greg deal. So the same gentleman that I’d seen on television and of being a mentor to me,

7:00
that’s a beautiful story. I love that. Now Charleston is a food destination, of course, lots of great restaurants there. But how amazing that you were mentored by early influencers? So tell us about some of those experiences when when they mentored you, what did you learn? Did they take you under their wing and just show you all the skill sets and really inspire and motivate you to rise to where you are now? I mean, just describe your personal experience with that.

7:25
Yeah, for sure. Because, you know, when you first come into an upscale kitchen, not doing it before, I mean, I had started in food and beverage when I was 15. So by this time, I was 19. And it was kind of like, it was overwhelming to begin with. Because, you know, there’s all these terms, there’s all this equipment. And it’s different than, you know, the mainstream. And so it was it actually motivated me extremely to learn. So, you know, along with the chef’s taking me under their wing, and showing me proper knife handling proper, you know, knife work and, you know, things like butchering, and making sauces and things like that. You know, educating myself, every moment I had when I was not at work was really important to me. So as much as I could read, you know, books by Tom Colicchio, who I later worked for when he was a consulting chef. And you know, people along those lines like that really had a big influence on me.

8:33
Tell us about cooking influences. Now, you’ve been exposed to lots of different cuisines. Are there certain influences that continue to, you know, inspire you with your cooking? Or is there one particular style or cuisine that you really specialize in? Or really appreciate now? I mean, is it all over the place? Or is it really focused?

8:51
I use the American umbrella overall. But you know, it’s kind of hard not to fall in love with Southern food here and in the low country. So I would say that I have quite a bit of experience with Southern cuisine. But I like to take the techniques that I’ve learned in upscale restaurants and apply that to that food. I will also say that heritage wise, my family’s originally from upstate New York. So I have Sicilian ancestry, German ancestry. So you’ll see some of that come across in my food as well.

9:27
Let’s talk about your leadership style, and especially as it relates to opening a new concept because you’ve obviously been in a position of leading people. And I definitely believe there is a huge difference between management and leadership. Those are two completely different things, you know, managers, anyone can call themselves a manager have management responsibility, but that doesn’t mean that they are in the best position to inspire develop a team and really lead them to greatness. So that’s where the leadership thing comes in. You know, and there’s a difference between delegation and empowerment, anyone can tell somebody what to do. But it’s a rare person that can really nurture and develop people so that they are empowered to rise to great challenges. And that that is particularly appropriate to what you’re doing. So let’s talk about your leadership style and what you hope to achieve and new concept, then we’re going to dive into what the concept is.

10:19
So for me, I totally agree with you, the basically throw everybody to the wolves, or, you know, the sacred swim approach doesn’t really work in my world, because I’ve been through that, you know, in my youth. And, you know, I think that not, you know, working alongside with your staff really can, you know, detract from what the end is going to be okay. We want them to develop, as you know, individuals. So for me, it’s more of a team, okay, well routine. So I’m only as good as they are. And if they’re not happy, and they’re not performing well, and they don’t want to be there, then that’s not a good thing for me. So I will coach them, and work with them to get them to the point where, yeah, I got this, you know, I can do this. And then, you know, I’ve seen people or had people who have very little skills, who can now run kitchen lines, like nobody else. And it makes me proud, you know, because it’s good to have that influence.

11:28
Absolutely. You know, it’s interesting, I just had a 60th birthday party last week, and one of my best friends gave me a new book. Obviously, Anthony Bourdain has left us but it’s very interesting, because it sort of interviews about 100 different people that were in his world universe, whatever you want to call it. And they all talk about what he was like, as a person and the team building and what he brought to kitchens. And obviously, we’ve all read Kitchen Confidential, that was pretty crazy as well. But there is such a dynamic in a restaurant, and you can tell a great restaurant, as a guest walking in the door, whether it’s really dialed or it’s just kind of out of control chaos, you know, and a team once you build that team, it’s really amazing the feeling that people get the pride, the passion of this business, okay, so that’s one side of the coin, and that’s the team building we’re talking about in the kitchen. But then there’s that whole dynamic between front of house back of house, and that is the bigger picture of culture. So let’s talk about your your definition of culture and what you hope to achieve to create this dynamic chemistry that’s really going to be evident that as soon as your first guest start walking through the door, what, what does that how does that resonate with you? And what thoughts come to mind? What are you going to do first,

12:44
that’s really important to me, as far as the front of the house culture as well, you know, with the back, that we work together as a team, okay, you, and I’m sure we’ve all seen it. But there’s some times in a restaurant where there’s a little bit of toxic relationship there between the front and the back. And I do not do that. So if it’s something that needs to be done, or something that’s requested of us, we’re going to do what needs to be done so that the guest is happy in the end. And also, we’re going to be civil about it. It’s, it’s not gonna be chaos in that fact that, you know, we aren’t getting along. So it’s really important to me to be close with the general manager, in the managers and my chefs as well. And for the cooks and servers to realize that we’re all working together to get this done.

13:36
Awesome. Busy kitchens, being what they are leads to a certain stress level, okay, we’re dealing with high heat, we’re dealing with long shifts, we’re dealing with tickets coming out onto the floor during crush times, and all that sort of thing. So how do you, you know, keep cool yourself as the leader? And then how do you make your, the rest of your team I mean, there’s a balance because a certain amount of pressure and stress is really good, that motivates people to do their best. And then there’s the part that some people kind of crumble under it. And the balance is finding that dynamic, where people are really just sort of moving in the same direction at the same time, no matter how crazy things are going. And yeah, I’m sure you’ve seen this in multiple situations before, you know. And, you know, the Dream Team is when everybody knows what everyone else is doing. And the tickets are on the floor, and it’s just like, everything is firing and people are like inspired by that versus it’s breaking down service. How do you find that balance? Is it possible? Or is every every night is obviously different, but overall, you know what I’m talking about just that dynamic of? Well, tell us about? Tell us about that?

14:46
I think like definitely right, you know, when it gets hot and the tickets are flying in and you know, everybody’s elevated. The thing is, is that you know, when you have that team that you work with over and over again, that that meshing of that, you know, we’re all trying to get to the same end point, that’s when it clicks, and we can get through those shifts together, you know, without having any major issues. And if there is an issue, like say, a certain station is lagging behind, or we try to motivate that station in a more positive way, okay? In the past, you would just get yelled at, you know, in other places, these days, I want to motivate, you know, I want to make sure that person is good. And if they need help, then we shift over and help each other period, you know, because we have some people, you always have some people that are a little bit stronger, and they can, you know, almost bolt double duty a little bit and help that person. And then I want to make sure when they’re outside of work, you know, they’re living their lives, and they get their days off. And they get some time to decompress, yes, we work long shifts, but when they’re off, I want them to be off, and I want them to have their time.

16:02
I like that a lot. I mean, the fact that someone who may be new, or someone who isn’t quite at the level of their people can learn from everyone in the kitchen. And as long as they’re approaching it with the right attitude, and they’re there, and they’re willing to learn. And if every other member of the team is willing to transfer their skill sets in the best practices to those people, then I think you’re creating a strong foundation. That’s great. Let’s let’s dive into crush yard tell us about the concept. It’s unique, it’s different. First of all, when when is opening date targeted.

16:36
So right now we’re looking at January or February of 23. So right in January, February, March. And for the concept, it’s actually, you know, it’s one of the things that hooked me, you know, coming from a different kind of background, you know, it was more Mom and Pop upscale. And the thing is, is that, you know, it’s not just pickleball, like, the pickleball part is amazing, and it’s gonna be beautiful. I mean, as a very, like, you know, beautiful designer has done a great job, with the renderings, and everything else. But you know, we also have food as the attraction. So we want people to come not only for the pickleball, but to feel free that, you know, you’re coming in and you’re dining at a restaurant you’re going to enjoy, because we’re not taking, you know, pre made products out of packages, we’re, we’re scratch kitchen. So doing the kind of volume we’re doing. The kick, the kitchen is very, very technology driven, very cutting edge technology. So you know, it’s actually going to be pretty amazing, because we’ll be able to produce our scratch food with doing a higher volume.

17:46
Now, several things are coming to mind because logistics and coordination are surely going to play into this. First of all, it looks like a very large space, how many square feet is this is the building I have seen the renderings, and it does look really exciting. But how big is this?

18:00
I think we’re right, right around 40,000 square feet.

18:04
Unbelievable. So how many courts are gonna be in there?

18:07
So there’s a courts climate controlled inside? Yeah. We also have, we have the dining area, which is the kind of upscale lounge in the main center, the building. Yep, the kitchen is off to the top right. We also have a large deck that’s going to be built out back so people can dine outside. But also be some games out there, like cornhole and things like that for the kids and parents and everybody else. Yeah, you know, and people just want to play. So, you know, there’s a lot of space, but there’s a lot of areas for different things to be going on.

18:45
So when we’re talking about coordinating logistics, is that a reservation to play pickleball? And then a reservation to dine? Do both of those things, because what comes to mind first is okay, people are in the middle of the game, and how long is the game going to take to not miss my rent a reservation for dinner? Or how does that whole thing gonna play out?

19:04
So basically, with the pickleball, as far as the memberships and things like that, they’ll it’s a first come first serve basis. Okay. And obviously members have, you know, they have some different curves for the courts. But as far as the restaurants considered, we have driven so far in the technology area, that you have no servers at your tables, okay, so that’s kind of when we’re talking about front of the house. It’s more I have, we have a general manager, we have drink ambassadors in front of the house managers, and then we’ll have people clearing tables. So but there’s no reservation, so you can sit down anytime you want. So we’ll we’ll basically moderate our times on you know, volume in the kitchen and things like that. Okay, if the computer when people go to order so you’ll be able to order on an app On your phone, or you will be able to go up to a kiosk system and place your order exactly how you want it. So if you want to modify your order right there, it’s gonna be very intuitive. And then when your food’s ready, you’ll get a notification. And it’s the expediter will have it right up in the kitchen for you. So that leaves you a lot of room to not have to worry about, Oh, I gotta make my 745 reservation now, I’m not done on the quarter.

20:26
That makes perfect sense. Now, okay, so January, February, it’s coming quickly. What’s your opening strategy? Like? There has to be a master checklist. And okay, there are 1000s of details that need to be taken care of to get the doors open, put everything in place, test the technology set a soft opening date, if you plan to soft opening, hire the staff train the staff, like all this kind of stuff. Where are you at on that timeline right now, what’s been accomplished, what still needs to happen?

20:55
So we’re at the point where menu is finishing up currently, we’re getting into the pricing of all that, obviously, with the way the economy is and food and writing like that, you know, that kind of bounces around a bit. But so menu is pretty much well, at completion. As far as the kitchen in the equipment are considered all that order is waiting to go in. It’ll be here shortly, we do have some things that we’re kind of dealing with the supply chain on. But it’ll be here in time. So it’s actually working in our favor, that we’re doing January, February. But as far as the checklist, yeah, I’m pretty into in deep in the checklist currently. But there’s a plan, there’s definitely a plan. And my sous chefs will be on very shortly. So that’s something some of those things we can work on together. Now, but go ahead, sir. Yeah, I was just gonna say, okay, hiring campaign and things like that. That’s, that’s going to start your shortly.

21:55
Alright, let’s talk about the menu. Because it’s a big deal. You’ve curated a specific menu. And obviously, you said that that is just about finished or whatnot. So let’s talk about testing these items. Have these all been tested in advance? Will they still be tested? Will people be tasted on them? Well, the chef’s obviously, there’s a training process to put the menu together all that kind of stuff. Tell us about that process.

22:19
So yes, there’s been I’ve basically been doing tastings every two weeks, for probably, I’d say, around two or three months now. So every the investors and our board have all been tasting the items along with, you know, like my spouse comes to join as well. So I get input from everybody at the table. So at the end, after I put out my dishes, a section of the menu, or ideas for the menu, then we go around and talk about what we like and what we think needs to be tweaked. So, yes, it’s been tasted in that manner. So wait, I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. So I feel really good about it.

23:01
Terrific. Is it I know there’s a southern influence on the menu? Is it all southern style cooking is there American, you know, rolled into certain southern dishes, tell us about what’s on the menu. And you know, what influenced that.

23:15
So there’s a little bit of southern flair on, you know, a couple things that, you know, I feel like, represent the area. And then on top of that, it’s more American in open. So you know, a lot of the items I’m pulling from some of that Sicilian here, it’s, you know, I pull them from other areas. So it’s, you know, American encompasses every culture in the world. So it’s, it’s something where it’s approachable for everyone. Everybody’s going to recognize something on that menu. And some things are going to be to the point where they’re scratch made, but they’re more comfort, elevated, comfort oriented. So one of your

23:58
great nobody can see around corners and anticipate what’s coming what’s already happened is sort of an indicator there’s been supply chain issues, there’s been rising prices, extreme volatility with food costs, that sort of thing. And, you know, no one can really say in the future, what’s going to keep rising or what’s going to stabilize what may even drop and that must have been a huge challenge in trying to put this menu together trying to figure out okay, we have to make sure that everything on this menu one will be available, and that to the prices of what we pay for it isn’t going to be constantly just going up and up and up and just be all over the map. How did you tackle that particular challenge? Like What strategy do you put in place to try to anticipate the unexpected

24:41
so would the dishes for me a lot of them are things that you know, even with the market kind of jumping around on certain things like you know what, I’ll give you an example for me. One thing we saw that just went you know, rocketed into space. Over the past couple years were chicken wings of all things Of course, okay, so you know, you go from like, maybe say, on a wholesale level 50 ish dollars for a 40 pound case to over 200 in a couple of weeks, which is insane. It is. Because, yeah, you know, and, and so for me, the items I picked are more stable. And we have the awesome ability with our menu to be able to remove and add things on a daily basis, because everything’s digital. So you know, if something just gets crazy out of whack, and it’s not cost effective for us. And it’s also, you know, doesn’t make sense for the customer, then we can make a tweak there rather quickly. So, you know, a lot of the things, I have to see what the market is going to do going forward too. Because you know, we always get certain spikes, especially around the holidays and things like that.

25:57
Have you finished costing out all these items to get a plate cost on every dish, and you have a rough idea of what profit should be contributed by each item.

26:07
So currently, where we’re at, I’m looking at running around 25% Overall, on my items. So the thing is, is that, you know, if it changes to the point where some things need to be tweaked, they’re going to be tweaked. But there’s also going to be items where you know, we’re going to run a higher food cost on because you know, we still want that item, of course, but something else will make up for that.

26:35
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27:33
I’m really specifically focused on on profit. With menu design, I was sort of obsessed with this when when I opened and ran restaurants and it was really a point of there are popular items, and then they’re profitable items. And those two things don’t often meet across the board, you know, so that things are roughly equal lateral are very similar. And it’s interesting because I do some coaching myself, and I’ve done some work with clients where they’re losing hundreds of 1000s of dollars on an annual basis in potential profit because their lower profit items are stealing sales from the higher profit items. And the spread difference in each category is many dollars versus cents. Like it’s okay, if a difference in an item is maybe 80 cents, 90 cents profit here. But when you’re losing 345 bucks and an appetizer and $7, $8, $10 $11 on an entree when these things are more popular than

28:28
Oh, yeah,

28:29
you know what I’m going with this? Yeah, it gets a real real balance to to put a menu together that’s really, really tight to that you really don’t care what sells as long as you’re moving the merchandise and there’s not a waste that theft or spoilage problem, you know. So that’s a real art and a science too. And you’re obviously right in the thick of all of that, in addition to anticipating, you know, what do I have to have? What are my guests going to expect? And what what can I ensure will always be there. So yeah, and that’s so important right now just costing everything out and trying to run that food cost. And it’s okay to have a high food cost, because in all likelihood, a higher food cost item probably brings in more profit dollars and something with a lower food grade, but it’s all a balance, you know?

29:11
Yeah, it is. It is definitely a balance. And like you said, I mean, we’re certain items need to be replaced. We can we can do it in the drop of a hat. You know, that’s one of the, you know, positive things about not having a printed menu. Everything’s digital. So when someone comes in, yeah. What’s on the menu for that day is on the menu for that day. It’s

29:33
beautiful.

29:34
plenty of choices. It is it is for sure.

29:37
Now, you also have an unusual self pour drink policy. Tell us about that. And how’s that going to work? Is that an honor system thing like self pour cocktails and beer and wine and soft drinks and all that sort of thing I was really intrigued by that

29:49
is pretty amazing, actually. So that’s all tied into the technology part of this. So we’ll have a drink ambassador on site up front of the house manager who handles it And basically, when you go up, you will be given either a wristband or some kind of token that’s connected to your check. So when you walk up to get a pour, you’ll have your token, the tap will recognize it, put your glasses underneath, and you’ll get the perfect pour on that beer, that draught beer, or that wine, or that makes drink. So that’ll all be sent back to your check the our system, yeah, we have, we have some amazing techniques. So

30:30
it’s like a scanning system on a wristband. So when you pour a drink, it’s literally recognizing what that drink is, every time you get a refill, or whatever, and it’s just automatically translated to the tech. That’s cool.

30:43
It’s pretty amazing.

30:44
That is really, you know, I have not heard of this before. I mean, it’s kind of, you know, blowing me away to think about it, of course, technology keeps moving forward every single day. But will your concept be one of the first implement this? Or is this been happening for a while, and I’ve just never seen it,

30:59
I think will be one of the first that is that,

31:02
you know, that’s sort of a competitive advantage. And it’s, it’s a hook, you know, it’s like, once your guests see this, it’s a draw for that alone. It’s like, how exciting is that to just self pour, and self regulate, and all that kind of stuff? Now? What about shutting people off? If they’re, does this sort of shut you off? After three cocktails? Maybe? It? Does.

31:24
We, we do have the option to do that. Yeah. So we’re kind of working with that right now as to, you know, what’s the limit? Because depending on the size of the person, right? How would they process alcohol, we don’t want anybody to become a new created and import, you know, get hurt or somebody else. So we do have the option to shut that chip down. In limit the amount of drinks. So if they’re, if they’re at their mark, which I don’t have a solid number on that yet, like, say it’s three, say it’s three in a certain amount of time, right? Then we will be able to shut that down so that it will not process drinks, at least alcoholic beverages.

32:08
I knew that would have to be part of the equation somewhere that’s got to be liability and safety reasons and all that sort of thing. So thanks for answering that. Will this be a franchise concept? Like what’s the growth plan for this? Because it sounds like it’s got legs like not just in your area, but literally in different regions and different, I mean, Pickleball is huge right now. It’s like, not just as older people playing, like, all ages are playing this, you know?

32:34
Yeah, it’s kind of across the board, it’s kind of mind blowing, actually, how quickly, it’s taken out now. And so we will expand, we will be a large presence in the southeast. But there is also plans are there are plans to move up north and out west. And that’s kind of when we were talking about menu design, I’m trying to make things they’re going to be approachable for people in those areas. Yeah. And we’ll have little, little features on those menus in those other cities that are relevant to that area, too. So they have something that’s familiar to home, but they also have, you know, crush yard. So you know, it all goes hand in hand. So it will move.

33:16
And you guys just sort of a beta test for the whole concept because you’re successful, then ultimately lead to, obviously, your investors must be thinking about all this. They’re not just investing in this single concept idea. They’re they’re seeing the big picture here. And I’m sure that’s been all part of the discussion. So yeah, there’s a little bit of pressure, like, we got to make this really rock and roll because it’s not just making this restaurant successful and tweaking it. But it’s also creating a template for the future so that it can be easily duplicated, whether it’s a franchise or their company own stores, or whatever that strategy is, it’s still you guys are the test for everything. So that’s exciting. And that’s stressful all at the same time. You’re right in the thick of it.

33:58
It is it is I’m excited about it. But you’re right. This is the anchor store. So everything the concept will be proven at the store. So we were up to the task, and we’re gonna get this done. And we have great support from the investors. And, you know, the people above, so I feel great about it.

34:19
Super. Do you have any sort of hesitation, not wrong choice of words, we’re talking about the labor crisis here, which everyone seems to be affected by not just the restaurant space, literally any industry has been affected by that. And you’ve got a timeline of January, February. Do you anticipate any issues with hiring staff? And what’s the strategy for finding these people?

34:41
So I think that, you know, post COVID That’s been a huge issue. Right. So going through COVID and then post COVID. We’re still dealing with this. You know, I saw it in the last place. I was at the one previous to that, for Charleston specifically. You know, we’ve lost Miss Johnson Wales years ago, the culinary school? Oh, we do.

35:04
It’s based in Providence, I believe. And then I wasn’t aware that there was another location.

35:11
So there was, it was in Charleston, it’s now moved to Charlotte. So which would which we had a huge, you know, Chef bass doership base. And that that move. So, you know, we still have people coming to the city, because it’s culinary destination. But it’s, it is a challenge to find people. So one of the things with crush yard, I have a very loyal staff group of people that go with me where I go, and they’re the ones that I can count on. And we’re all you know, we’re like a family. So they mean a lot to me, they work hard, you know, I’ll do anything for them. So I have those people, which is great. And that’ll supply my base. And then from there on, what we really want to do is give, you know, younger adults who are looking to get into this or, you know, looking to make money. Get them in there, like high school kids, you know, college kids, like come check this out, because they can have fun while they’re there to you know, they’re gonna be able to play on the chords, they’re gonna be able to do other things. So, you know, and we can kind of mold them from there, so that they can see what it’s like to do this type of work and be paid well, you know, pay, it’s changed a lot over the years. Certainly.

36:31
So yeah, yeah, no one sort of expected that. I mean, up here in the northeast, I mean, line cooks are making $22 an hour, you know, it’s unbelievable, and certain. So

36:42
it’s interesting, you say that, because we’re paying in the same area down here now. So it’s been adopted down here as well. And I, it’s great for him. But you know, it’s, it’s, it’s good to earn that money, right? So, you know, very important,

36:59
I’m glad you brought up the team, the loyal team that you’ve already built that is now following you. I mean, that is such a powerful thing, right? That is like everyone already has the same operating philosophy. Everyone already knows what it’s like to work with each other, you’re all moving towards the same goal. There’s the excitement factor, this brand new concept. So it keeps things really interesting for your team. But I’m sure everybody that you’re talking about here also has other people that they can possibly recruit and say, Hey, this is something exciting whether you’ve got experience or not, because I’m sure you would say that personality and approach to a job is more important than experience. And it sounds to me like you’re willing to train people, if they’re the right people. I heard that earlier in the interview. So I mean, that’s really the way of finding that competitive advantage. Because in a competitive restaurant city, like Charleston, and everybody’s looking for staff, you really can’t just put out the now hiring sign. It’s really about who do you know, that might fit this organization that will grow with us that’s looking for something exciting and new and different, right. So that’s probably what’s happening.

38:06
That’s great. Yeah, totally agree.

38:08
That’s cool. Let’s talk about the vibe and the ambiance, right, you walk through the door, and it’s, and it’s got excitement, because you’re watching people play, whether you’re playing or not, you’re waiting for a cord, that sort of thing. Is it’s kind of like a sports bar concept, but big screen TVs and sports playing. It’s like, what’s the vibe? What’s the energy like? Or what will it oh, there

38:28
will be there is you know, we will have flatscreen televisions that will be playing, you know, games and things like that as well. So you kind of get that waterway, an elevated pub kind of feeling. And the actual seating area for the restaurant, for example. Elevated lounge. I mean, it’s beautiful. It really is. So the designer has a lot of experience in yacht designing. So it’s it’s gonna be very nice. Yeah. That’s, you know, that’s what he does very impressed by him. Very impressed by all of them, actually. But, so when you come in, you can feel comfortable. You don’t. If you’re not into pickable, it’s okay. Even though we’re across yard, you can go into the restaurant, you can sit down in the lounge, you can have drinks. You know, there’s plenty of soundproofing so that it’s not overwhelming with the games going on, or the televisions being on or anything like that. So you can have a conversation. So there’s plenty of room to relax and have a good time, you know, and same thing with the outdoor deck, the Outback, that’s going to be nice, you’re going to be out there you go. You have nature, that’ll be beautiful. And then also we have private dining. We have a mezzanine. So we’ll be able to host groups up there as well.

39:55
Now, how about live entertainment, is there any plans to have say a coup? will stick musicians or bands or any of that kind of stuff that keeps people like sort of drinking while they’re watching pickleball? Or is that sort of counter to what your plan is? Even?

40:12
Currently? Yeah, that would be a great place for that. Can’t speak to a currently, it hasn’t been brought up, as far as I know, at least not with me. So, but I definitely see your point on that. I definitely use that resource in the past. And it does make a difference. So it’s always nice to have that as well. And we have plenty local musicians who are very talented as well,

40:35
I’m sure. Yeah. Okay, cool. Let’s talk about the name crush yard. Does that have some sort of a reference to the game of pickleball? Or where did the name come from?

40:44
So yeah, crushes a move in pickleball. So that’s where that kind of developed from, and then the yard we have, you know, our basically our pickleball courts. Gotcha. So yeah, that’s kind of where that developed from. And, yeah, pretty cool.

41:03
Now, tell us about the location. 40,000 square feet? is a giant building, of course, is it in sort of the outskirts of town? Is it in an industrial area? Like, is it a high traffic area, obviously, that may or may not be important based on your marketing, and based on the budget, you’re gonna develop when you open it, but all those things play into opening a new location, tell us about the location.

41:28
So huge, huge amount of traffic comes through this area. So this is right in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. A lot of nice communities right in this area, you know, middle class, upper middle class, you know, I mean, everybody, you have every demographic in this area. So there it is, as far as the amount of people in this area. It’s very saturated with people. So the building itself, at one point, I believe the space was a grocery store way back when it had been an armory after that. And then now we’re in that So originally, a grocery stores face in a shopping center, this particular one, so it’s being revitalized, which is really nice for the area.

42:18
So is it all one story? Or is there going to be sort of a loft or mezzanine lounge kind of thing? How is that being built out?

42:26
So there will be a second area? That’ll be the mezzanine Lounge, which will be over the main dining lounge area? In the back? Yeah. So you know, you have that option there.

42:37
And views of the courts as well. So you can kind of watch Oh, yeah, yeah,

42:41
you can watch the action. Even, you know, when you’re sitting there dining as well, you’ll be able to look over to the left and right. And you’ll be able to see the courts. So eight courts and climate control building. It’s it’s really nice, actually. And when they eat down here in the south, right? It’ll make a big difference.

42:59
Oh, yeah. Yeah, I mean, it sounds like the concept is definitely a winner, you know, just based on the popularity of pickleball. And based on, you know, providing really good food and drink and that whole unique beverage concept we already talked about, like it’s a big, it’s one big package that is already creating a buzz. I mean, let’s talk about marketing. What is the marketing plan? What is the main marketing strategy? How will awareness be built? And obviously, word of mouth is going to be huge, and social media will be huge for this as you open, but are you going to have a soft opening, inviting, you know, local influencers, business owners, that sort of thing that will be in a position to spread the word about this? And then what is the rest of marketing look like? If you’re so inclined to say,

43:42
so from what I can speak to, as far as a soft opening, we will be doing soft openings? For sure. I mean, I want my staff to get the reps in, for sure. I mean, we’ll practice beforehand, but I want people you know, I want to see people outside of the company, you know, give their input as well. And then our chief marketing officer, he is very on top of everything else. We already have billboards up, we’re on social media. A great place already, our website is up and functioning crusher.com. You can see some of the renderings there as well, which is pretty awesome. And then we’re already starting our membership program.

44:23
Great. So this is a brand in the making. It’s not just a restaurant. It’s not just a place for you. Oh, it is a brand for sure. I mean, that’s coming across crystal clear. Will there be a retail program where merchandise will be sold and all that sort of thing.

44:37
So we will have some retail we actually partnered with a veteran owned local coffee roaster here in Charleston, so we’ll be featuring their coffee is one of the items they’re actually making a special blend just for crush yard. So we’ll have a crush our coffee made by one nation coffee And then also, you know, there’s the option for other things to a local brewery. I’m good friends with one of the owners, well known brewery down here. They’re gonna make a crush yard beer, and that will go nationwide with us. So we’re in the process of doing that as well. So I’m gonna do that. They’re awesome.

45:19
Yeah, I mean, that’s a unique branding element unto itself. And I’m glad you brought that up, you know, my flagship restaurant had a custom crafted beer that was, you know, white label just for us. That was yeah, it comes Yeah, it’s something that just becomes such a foundational element that then just catches on like wildfire. And it’s a draw unto itself. So that I’m glad you mentioned. That is great, awesome. We’ve covered a lot of ground today, Chef, is there anything we’ve missed that you’d like to talk about anything that I didn’t ask that you’d like to tell your audience about?

45:52
I just think that it’s gonna be a great experience for people to come. And I think I want to put out there that it’s approachable for everything, everybody that comes, you know, anybody can come. Even if you don’t play pickleball, please, you know, come check out the restaurant. And it’s, it’s not going to be, you know, Stuffy, it’s going to be enjoyable, you’re going to have a good time, and you’re still going to have scratch made food. Okay, so you’re going to have professional chefs in the kitchen working to create this food for you that you’re going to have self serve beer wine, mixed rates, that you know, you don’t have to worry about waiting for things along those lines, there’s obviously pickable. So if you’re into pickleball, you’re gonna love this place. And then there’s potential to you know, people can have birthday parties, family events, and things like that. So you know, it’s something for everybody. And, you know, that’s one of the things that’s kind of attracted me to this. And there are they, the investors and the chief officers are good people. And you know, that’s a rarity to find sometimes these days are people that actually believe in what they’re doing, and are good people. So I feel great about it.

47:06
Well, I’m excited for you. I mean, this is going to be really amazing when the doors open, and the volume of people that you’ll be handling on a daily basis based on everything that’s going on the action sounds like it’s going to be nonstop. So I look forward to following your progress. And I wish you all the best of success in the Chef, thank you so much for joining us.

47:27
It’s been great to be here. Thank you. Well, that was

47:30
the restaurant rockstars podcast. Thanks to our audience for tuning in. Thank you to the sponsors of this week’s episode. We can’t wait to see you next time. So stay tuned. rockstars couple of things. We just launched a brand new website at restaurantrockstars.com. We’ve been working on it for months, and it’s finally live so excited. So please, we’d love for you to check it out. And let us know what you think. While you’re there, our restaurant rockstars Academy is now available at a super affordable monthly rate. Best part is you can now give your front end back of house team access to the academy. Your kitchen leads can learn inventory, prime cost and maximizing your profit. In the front of house, your team will learn how to use our sales stars training to double your sales, the Academy can add 10s of 1000s of dollars or more to your bottom line. If you’re getting value out of this podcast, we’d also be super grateful if you share this and leave us a review. It really does make a difference and it’ll help others find us. I wish you the absolute best to success. Now go out there and rock your restaurant. And I’ll see you next time.

48:34
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49:48
Thanks for listening to the restaurant rockstars podcast for lots of great resources, head over to restaurant rockstars.com See you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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