Emerging Hospitality Trends

Emerging Hospitality Trends : An Insightful Conversation with Mathew Focht

Background and Hospitality Story

Mathew’s journey in the hospitality industry is both fascinating and inspiring. Growing up in a small boating town in Ohio, where boats outnumbered people, he developed a passion for the food and beverage industry early on. After completing his engineering degree in Cincinnati and acquiring an MBA, he started his career with Toll Brothers in Fairfax, Virginia. However, it was while working with Steiner Associates in Columbus, Ohio, that he discovered his love for the restaurant industry. He admired the quirky, entrepreneurial spirit of restaurant operators, which led him to support them in various capacities, ultimately shaping his career path.

Scaling a Business

The hospitality business thrives on passion and a well-structured system. When asked about scaling operations from a single-location success to a larger chain, Mathew emphasized the importance of a dedicated team and effective execution. He explained that while a unique concept and a perfect menu are crucial, the success of a venture primarily hinges on the team behind it. The best operators he has seen empower their teams from the bottom up, a practice evident in models like Texas Roadhouse’s profit-sharing system.

Addressing Labor Challenges

The post-pandemic labor challenge is a significant concern for many operators. Mathew believes in the vital role of charismatic leaders in creating a positive work environment. He noted that people naturally gravitate towards environments where they feel valued and appreciated, leading to better performance and higher retention rates. Thus, hiring charismatic leaders and fostering a supportive work culture is essential.

Adapting to Inflation and Changing Consumer Preferences

Discussing inflation and its impact, Mathew pointed out that while inflation has somewhat stabilized, major cost impacts remain, particularly in labor and goods. A significant shift has occurred in consumer preferences, with a growing demand for experiential dining. Mathew highlighted the increasing popularity of social entertainment concepts like PuttShack and F1 Arcade, which offer an engaging blend of fine dining and unique entertainment experiences. These concepts have figured out that elevated food and beverage experiences combined with social entertainment are a big win.

Innovation in Entertainment and Dining

When it comes to innovative dining experiences, Mathew cited examples like Rainforest Cafe and Punchbowl Social, explaining why they fell short despite their initial success. In contrast, concepts like PuttShack and F1 Arcade succeed by providing dynamic, engaging experiences with top-notch food and beverages. These modern entertainment venues are not just about the games but also about offering an elevated dining experience that keeps guests coming back for more.

Emerging’s Role in the Industry

Emerging, Mathew’s company, invests in restaurant technology and early-stage concepts, primarily focusing on social entertainment. With successful investments like F1 Arcade and PuttShack, Emerging aims to merge cutting-edge technology with innovative dining experiences. Their portfolio includes various tech and entertainment concepts, ensuring a broad and diversified approach to the hospitality industry.

Buyer’s Edge Platform

Emerging’s Buyers Edge Platform works with a significant number of restaurants across the U.S., providing them with essential data insights and supply chain solutions. From group purchasing to advanced data analysis, Buyers Edge Platform helps restaurants make informed decisions, reducing costs and optimizing operations. Importantly, this platform caters to both large chains and independent operators, supporting the entire spectrum of the industry.

Innovative Concepts: Tablz and Botrista

One of Emerging’s exciting investments is Tablz, a platform that allows restaurants to monetize premium tables. By reserving the best seats in the house for a fee, restaurants can generate significant additional revenue. Another noteworthy investment is Botrista, which brings high-quality, non-alcoholic beverages to the forefront. Developed by a former Tesla engineer, Botrista’s automated drink machine simplifies the process of serving premium drinks, enhancing profitability and reducing labor costs.

The Role of Data in Hospitality

Effective use of data is critical in today’s hospitality industry. Mathew highlighted that while many businesses gather vast amounts of data, the real value lies in analyzing and utilizing this data to make strategic decisions. Understanding guest preferences, tracking VIP guests, and optimizing menu offerings are just a few ways data can significantly impact a restaurant’s success.

Conclusion

Mathew’s insights underscore the importance of innovation, effective team management, and strategic use of data in scaling and sustaining success in the hospitality industry. Emerging’s diverse portfolio and investment in forward-thinking concepts demonstrate their commitment to driving the industry forward. As the hospitality landscape continues to evolve, businesses embracing these strategies will surely thrive.

Stay tuned for more insights and exciting conversations on the Restaurant Rockstars podcast. Watch or listen to Mathew’s episode!

Emerging Trends in Hospitality
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