S2:EP10 - David Burke, The Artful Innovator
S2:EP10 - David Burke, The Artful Innovator
In this episode, I interview David Burke - chef, restauranteur, TV personality and business man who is fueled by passion, grit and a knack for artful innovation.
David gave great insight into how he adapted due to the pandemic, new revenue streams, and what led him to his overall success in the restaurant industry.
Brett Linkletter: In this episode, I interview David Burke, a really incredible guy. David is wildly successful for being a chef, restaurateur and businessman who is fueled by passion, grit and a knack for artful innovation. To many people, he is considered a leading pioneer in American cooking and is also recognized internationally for his revolutionary techniques, exceptional skills and successful restaurant empire, and also, his many TV appearances. We spoke on a variety of topics from how he adapted because of COVID, how he is finding new ways to bring in new revenue outside of just his restaurants, overall what's led him to his successes, but then also what he has coming this year. There is so much great content here and I can't wait to share it, so let's dive into it. Hi, my name is Brett Linkletter, CEO and founder of Misfit Media, the best damn restaurant marketing agency on the planet. Here at Misfit, we help restaurant owners grow and scale their business through strategic online marketing practices. Right now, you're listening to our podcast, Restaurant Misfits. We'll discuss all things related to restaurant marketing, management and everything else in between, growing a restaurant business. This podcast is also brought to you in collaboration with Total Food Service. For over 30 years, Total Food Service have provided the restaurant and food service industry with exclusive interviews, to the latest news on products, trends, associations and events. You can sign up for your free monthly subscription by visiting totalfood. com today. From all of the misfits over here, we hope you enjoy the show. Cheers.( silence) David Burke, what's going on?
David Burke: Hi. How are you?
Brett Linkletter: I'm doing inaudible.
David Burke: There's a snow storm coming.
Brett Linkletter: You said there's a snow storm coming?
David Burke: Yeah.
Brett Linkletter: You guys are in New York, right?
David Burke: We're in New York. We got 10 inches of snow coming tonight and tomorrow. But it looks inaudible. We've been hit with worse all year.
Brett Linkletter: Any fun plans for the holidays yet?
David Burke: Well, I'm sitting in a new restaurant we opened a week ago in East Brunswick, New Jersey. It's called Portrait Bar by David Burke. And we're entering our second week. So, I'll be here most of the time and I'll probably drive down to Charlotte the next day.
Brett Linkletter: Got it. Yeah, David, one thing obviously very interesting about what you've doing is obviously you've had so much success in this industry. How many restaurants do you guys have now?
David Burke: We've got over a dozen restaurants right now. And we're opening in Saudi Arabia next month, two restaurants. We continue to explore the markets outside the big city, outside of New York. New Jersey, the suburbs of Philadelphia, New York, maybe DC. Anything one the eastern seaboard we seem to like right now. But New York City right now is not very favorable for us.
Brett Linkletter: Absolutely as I can imagine. I've been noticing also something we've seen on our end is obviously all the protests going on right now. Have you guys seen anything on the protest or what's that been like for you guys over there?
David Burke: We've been focused on staying positive and working hard in New Jersey. I mean, I agree with the protesting for the restaurant industry. It needs to be done. We're just removed from New York right now. We're dug deep in New Jersey and working hard. I go to inaudible weeks now to sign paychecks. There's literally no business for us there right now. It's a losing proposition.
Brett Linkletter: Wow. I think that's really scary. For most of the restaurateurs in the New York area and obviously a lot of people I've seen move out of New York because of this. On your end, so you guys have a little over a dozen restaurants. How many restaurants in New York verus New Jersey?
David Burke: We have three in New York City, we have four currently opened in New York and New Jersey. And three more signed in New Jersey. So, we'll have seven in New Jersey before summertime. We're in DC, we have two in North Carolina, one in Colorado. And we're opening two in Saudi Arabia in the next... One is next month and the second one's probably six months later in Saudi. And we're still fielding opportunities for fast casual concept. Most of these are brick and mortar restaurants. Management deals, license deals, and/ or leases. We have a fast casual concept that got side lined. We were going to partner with Bloomingdale's. And that's probably going to get revved up some time after the holidays are over. But like I said, COVID kind of side tracked quite a bit of what we were doing.
Brett Linkletter: Absolutely.
David Burke: Actually, we did a lot during COVID. It's just that some of the things had to be sidelined. Especially in the department store aspect and the retail centers. So, the malls.
Brett Linkletter: You said honestly COVID's sidetracked you. Obviously it has for everyone. But it seems like even though through this, you guys have had a lot of success obviously. Is the change to fast casual something you were planning on or is the change to fast casual something that was influenced by COVID, just out of curiosity?
David Burke: No, we had a fast casual dual restaurant open in Bloomingdale's in New York City called Burke In A Box inaudible the airport many years ago. So we were way ahead of that before the pandemic obviously. And even before the uptick in fast casual, which was probably four or five years ago. It's something I think chefs like myself are good at. We're very creative packaging and we certainly know how to cook. And we need to eventually find a constant that can make us money while we sleep because the fine dining restaurants inaudible random guys like myself, celebrity chefs there's only so many places you can be any given night with your name on the door and people want to see you. So, retail business, pots and pans business for us is very good. We sell our branded pots and pans in TJ Maxx and Marshall's and Home Goods. And we're working on another kind of in mind. So, we have other streams of income designed to inaudible brick and mortar restaurant, which we got crushed this year. So luckily we were a little bit diversified.
Brett Linkletter: Fantastic. So you're saying you have a whole line of retail products as well?
David Burke: Yeah, and we're going to look into doing more of that. We also started doing the virtual cooking classes. I have a puppet with Instagram, as silly as it sounds. He made about$ 50, 000 last year. And the good thing about him making money is I get to keep it.
Brett Linkletter: Amazing. One thing you said, you said you were doing virtual cooking classes. Is that a new thing because of COVID or have you guys always been doing that?
David Burke: That's because of COVID. 100% born out of necessity to stay active and develop some income streams. I'm working at home.
Brett Linkletter: Got it. And is that something that... I mean, what's that look like, just out of curiosity? Is that something like you host a Zoom conference call and you have people book up certain times? How many people are typically doing a class with you?
David Burke: What we do is I mail out a meal kit to you. The same meal kit I'm going to cook from, the recipe. And I cook it with you... You're at home cook while I'm at my home cook it, walking through the steps, answering questions. I think it's on a Zoom. How are our virtual classes done?
Paula: On Zoom.
David Burke: Yeah, they're on Zoom and I'm in my kitchen. And people ask questions realtime. " Should I pound the filet mignon? How do I know when it's ready? Blah- blah-blah." We do it for about an hour. Sometimes a Q and A session. And we've done several of those for some big corporations that have sent out 100 boxes. We stuff the boxes with the filet mignon, the mushroom raviolis, the vegetables, the sauce. We use a little bit of knife cutting around. But basically we ship you the box and we cook together. We recommend wine and maybe a dessert. And we talk about anything anybody wants to talk about. Career, the difference between aged meat and unaged meat. Depending on the recipe it lends itself to the questions that come through and we have a little entertainment. And actually get inaudible. It's a very good way to cook depending on the teacher, of course, I think I'm a pretty good teacher. Some days inaudible when it comes to putting a dish together and plating it like a chef. Why we think that way, and why we plate that way, and why I cook it in my home kitchen a little different from the restaurant kitchen. It's very interesting. I happen to like it. And I think depending on the questions you get and the audience you have also determines the energy level and how much people can learn.
Brett Linkletter: Absolutely. Wow, I love that. That's really cool. Is that something that you're promoting specifically through your restaurants or through your personal brand?
David Burke: Through our websites. Yeah, we could do it through restaurants or @ChefDavidBurke or info @ ChefDavidBurke. I think it's part of our website. And we've gotten pretty good at it. inaudible and I think there's something to this. We're also working on a reality show based similar to this where we're going to be mentoring young inaudible to stay in my house and work as an apprentice underneath me and my restaurants. And we're always working on some stuff.
Brett Linkletter: That's amazing. I love that, David. And that's something I noticed about you before we hopped on this call and on this interview is you've just done so many different things. And it seems like you're always staying innovative, you're always looking to develop new things. Like you mentioned earlier develop new revenue streams to continue being competitive. What does it cost someone to sign up for one of these personal Zoom cooking classes?
David Burke: I don't know. I think it could be anywhere between$ 150 to $ 200 depending on the meal kit that you get. Sometimes the corporations pay us. Like for example, I think one of the credit card companies extended inaudible your points. So we had, let's call it Visa or MasterCard or one of those and$ 150 of their black card holders decided to get a kit using some of their points. Or they sent it to them. United Airlines did one. Another company. We had three or four major companies send out 100 kits to their VIPs or their employees or whatever it was. And then we have some other ones, interoffice ones where it's 25 people and they all get a kit and they do it from home. They're working from home so it gets them... It's part of their board meeting or whatever it is. Maybe it's a break in the afternoon or whatever. Normally we do them at dinnertime because we're making a dinner meal. Again, I've been doing these @ ChefDavidBurke on Instagram, these cooking videos with a inaudible puppet and that's more humorous, and rock and roll, and telling jokes, and the puppet, he's asking questions. And that's turned into something that was really actually comforting during the height of the pandemic in April and May. The puppet's starting to get his own following so we're going to try and...
Brett Linkletter: Oh my god.
David Burke: His name is Lefto and he makes leftovers. And he's got his own little following so we're going to try to parlay that into getting his own Cooking for Dummies. I mean, he is a dummy. He's going to start to branch out and do his own thing. He's tired of working with me exclusively.
Brett Linkletter: I love that. That's incredible. It seems to me David like since COVID a lot of restaurants have had some bad news, obviously. A lot of restaurants have closed down. But again, it seems like through you even through this you've been finding really fun interesting ways to continue bringing in more revenue, to continue having fun with it. What's been kind of like your secret to coming up with these things? How do you come up with these things and how do you execute them so effectively?
David Burke: Well, some of the things... The puppet was basically in my closet. So that was something I've been wanting to do but I never had the time. So, when you're stuck at home you basically have no excuse. You have the time so I put it to work. Also a team of creative people that work for me and we just don't know how to sit around and wait. inaudible. So we move. We're planting seeds and they're not bearing fruit yet but they'll bear fruit by summer. Some of the opportunities we took, some the chances we took we're like, " You know what? Let's go for it." We've been fortunate enough that when we had restaurants in New Jersey three years ago. We left New York City, started over in New Jersey. We had a very strong summer. A lot of people came out from New York and stayed local and ate. Didn't go to Miami or California or to the Islands because they stayed local. Saratoga, New York, we have a beautiful location up there. It's very busy. And so, is the Jersey shore. So Jersey kept us very busy throughout the summer. When it got cold we got hurt as we are now. But failures not an option for us. We just keep moving. We're in the same position as other restaurateurs. We happen to be fortunate to have a big space in Jersey. We took advantage of that. We have to survive. We have to come up with ways to keep people employed. Not just shut down and say, " Hey, man, I wish you the best but COVIDs killing us." We're going to fight it and we've been fighting it. We've been coming up with solutions as opposed to sitting around and bitching about it. I'm pissed about it. Don't get me wrong, I'm upset. But I don't have time to be visibly upset. I have time to be visibly looking for solutions in front of the staff.
Brett Linkletter: A hundred percent. I mean, especially as a leader as yourself. You got to be. Like you mentioned, we don't have time, we don't have the choice to accept anything less. We've got to demand this opportunity and make something of ourselves. Keep people employed. I love that. I respect that. Same thing for us as a company. I'll tell you, when March and April hit, we had half our clientele just go away. And that was brutal. It was terrible. And it was sad to see, I let half of my staff go and they were good people. And nobody wants to do that. But I think as leaders, what we need to do for our employees and staff is make sure that we can be that silver lining they're looking for, we can see that bright light in that tunnel, we can be that person that they can follow through this craziness that we're all going through, of course. You're talking about obviously making some bigger moves in New Jersey and it seems like New York is one of the toughest places to be going through this whole thing right now. Do you see yourself making back big moves in New York or do you feel like... I mean, looking at New York right now what does the next 6, 12 months look like in your opinion for the restaurant space?
David Burke: I think it depends on your location and your concept. I think the next six months in New York does not look good. I think the next three months in New York is still going to be a slow walk. I think people are hesitant to get back into New York and work. The theaters will be closed, the conventions will be dried up, the offices will not be filled until maybe summer. And then summer in New York traditionally is slow anyway. So, I think you'll be lucky to have a strong fourth quarter next year. I think. But for a guy my age who's been in New York City since 1984 busting my butt, I'm not that interested in taking a chance and waiting for it to come back. I have a couple of decent properties. I would never sign a lease in New York City right now unless I had really favorable terms. I'm pretty well disgusted how the mayor and the governor have handled things. I really would like nothing to do with them, to be honest with you. And I think they mistreated the restaurant and disrespected the restaurant people that have worked hard to feed that city, train people, pay rent, pay taxes, do charity work. Unbelievable amount of work for feeding the homeless and Meals on Wheels and all that throughout the decades just to be stepped on. It's really, really unbelievable they can push us aside like that. And you know what? If you don't have to put up with that, why would you? The rents are high, minimum wage is going to go up again. Thank you de Blasio. And all of a sudden you know what? I can't make any money anyway. So you'd have to be insane to try and fight the odds of being in the restaurant business. The waiters inaudible that happened in Seattle and the West Coast is terrible too. Independent entrepreneurs and restaurateurs that put their life on the line, and their money, to be the small business owner are being de- incentivized 100%.
Brett Linkletter: Yeah, 100%. It is such a scary thing. I'll tell you, we're based in Los Angeles and same thing happened here just a couple weeks ago. They completely shut down even outdoor dining. And there's no evidence to point that, hey, restaurants are behind spreading the virus. There's no evidence behind that.
David Burke: But there is evidence that the NFL and the NBA players are spreading the virus, and they still let them play.
Brett Linkletter: Yeah.
David Burke: And it can be spread in an elevator and I see plenty of high rises in New York where there's no way in hell two people can go in an elevator and you'd get the 400 people up there in a timely fashion to get back to their apartment. So there's all kinds of what if's and buts, and all this stuff. And since the beginning, the restaurant industry has been singled out as almost as if COVID was a inaudible. Restaurants are restaurants, you know what I mean? Not the subways, not the buses, not the protestors, god forbid. Protestors can't spread COVID. And they let them protest. Once they protested in New York and nobody said anything about marching and vandalizing New York City protesting. Then people kind of said, " You know what? The gig is up."
Brett Linkletter: Got it. You're saying you kind of feel like it's almost like restaurants haver been targeted essentially. A little bit?
David Burke: I do. The food industry. We're not big enough to fight the airlines. If you can sit on a plane shoulder- to- shoulder with somebody for six hours, and you're going to tell me that there's no chance of spreading a disease because their ventilation system is good. But shopping in a mall during Christmastime right now where it's wall- to- wall and nobody can social distance because nobodies counting bodies is okay. It's just not fair. I'm all for being safe but I'm also for being fair. And they're not inaudible people that run restaurants inaudible who know what sanitation is, who understand and what to protect their employees and their own selves. They're completely disregarding our ability to manage people.
Brett Linkletter: 100%.
David Burke: But trust a teacher to manage an eight year old.
Brett Linkletter: Yeah. Why is this? I completely agree with you on all of this stuff. And I think we're all wondering why is this the case? If they are doing this, why are they targeting the food industry?
David Burke: Because we're a huge employer. And at one point we had a huge, in my opinion, I think that politically they wanted to get unemployment very high, and if you shut the restaurants down you get the unemployment numbers very high, you can make one political party look bad. Now what they're doing about it now is, I don't know, a distraction or they seem to think there's no science behind the fact that restaurants spread COVID more so than being at home. So let's push everybody home during the holidays, which will create more COVID and letting them go out and the risks. I know there's some restaurants that are breaking the rules. I know there are still. Why don't they police the restaurants instead of telling us to police ourself or penalizing us? They'd rather unemploy 30 people. The average restaurant employs 30 people almost. inaudible unemployment. They should have put two health inspectors in every restaurant and paid them instead of paying 30 people unemployment. They could have policed the situation and give us passing and failing grades based on how we dealt with COVID. That would have been a fair opportunity.
Brett Linkletter: Yep. I agree. It's while it's going on. I mean, politically what's happened this year. It's hard to believe that there's science behind this other than some kind of political agenda, honestly, in my opinion. Whatever the case, it obviously hasn't been very favorable especially New York. What do you think restaurants should be doing though? I mean, how can we fight this? What are some ideas that you have or maybe you've heard, maybe some innovative things you've seen to cope with the situation? Obviously, we've seen a lot move towards online ordering, direct online ordering. Things like that. What are some of the big changes you've seen personally?
David Burke: Well, you can build a shed out in front of your restaurant and spend$ 20 grand, $ 10 grand. You can spend more money interiors. I don't know anyone in the city, I'm going to talk about New York City for now, that is inaudible. I'm sure some of the pizzerias and Chinese food takeout places are doing gangbusters. They don't need all the waiters, they just need cooks and packaging. Might be doing well. The fine dining restaurants are the ones with finesse that get their money from bar business and that are selling ambiance, and creativity, and a dining experience, that food doesn't travel in a plastic tub. My Branzino's not the same in a plastic boat as it is on a plate with the right music, and the right garnishes, and a candle and this, that and the other. So, you take that away, the$ 40 inaudible That doesn't translate. I'm not going to rush back to order... and it's overcooked by the time it comes. So not everybody everywhere is built for takeout. And you can adjust that. But people don't think of David Burke when it comes to takeout food. They don't think of certain chefs. They think of Wuhan Yap, or whatever you want, or Tony's Pizzeria, or the burger joint. Whatever it is they'll just take that. And to be honest with you, I wouldn't what to spend $ 100 for a three course meal from a fancy restaurant delivered to my house that was in the back of an Uber for an hour and a half.
Brett Linkletter: I agree. No, you make a very valid point. I mean, I'll tell you just-
David Burke: And then we have to worry... Why should we have to design our business model because of a few politicians? We're resilient, we're strong, we adapt, we're creative. But now we're pissed.
Brett Linkletter: Rightfully so.
David Burke: And we're going to get hungry. And we're used to eating a lot of food when we're hungry. And we can't inaudible going down. So, like I said, we're keeping positive and doing everything we can. But the wind is out of our sails and there's a little bit of hope always. But we're not happy about it. And there's certainly no respect, at least on my side, for what these people have done to us and the lack of what they've done for us. Especially in a simple thing called communication. There's been a lack of communication as to when we close, when we open, what's happening, what we're doing. So we can't even plan. I can't even tell one of my chef's employees, " Why don't you go home for three months. Why don't you go back and visit your family." I can't even give anybody any concrete data.
Brett Linkletter: Do you think it's a state problem or a federal problem politically?
David Burke: I think it's a federal problem. I think New York has its own problems or each thing. But I think there's an attitude problem with government right now, and power, and politics, and hate. I think there's a combination of all kinds of things going on. And just a lack of giving a shit. I highly inaudible qualified that are in office often times understand how to manage anything. Because inaudible office their whole careers haven't managed a business inaudible. They're not so easily driven.
Brett Linkletter: It's wild. I think you're absolutely right. I think you're absolutely right, there is an attitude problem of government. There's an attitude problem I think right now in our country to some degree. The other thing is all the other things that have popped up. We had a country actually based in southern California. He runs actually two restaurant locations. He's Asian. And during the whole BLM movement I guess some of the restaurants in our area... I don't know if this is a nationwide thing... were receiving discounted rates on some of these third party apps for being black owned businesses. For some reason this restaurant client of ours got the benefit of being a black restaurant owner and getting some kind of benefit. He didn't even know this. He got put on their list somehow, was getting some kind of special benefit because of it. Someone then found out that he was on that list, I think it was an employee of his or something, and basically told the public this guy's pretending to be black to get this benefit. The guy is such a sweet guy. He had no idea what was going on, gets completely destroyed. Gets the most terrible PR because of this and had no idea. He wasn't trying to take advantage of any kind of system but it's not even just the government. All these different initiatives popping up it seems like it's just tough. And he's like, " Brett, I never signed up to be on the black list or whatever you want to call it. I just didn't even know I was on it. And then when someone found out I was, I get all this terrible PR." And so, it's not even just the government it's all these other groups popping up, and this and that initiatives. It's just wild. But with all this being said... With all the bad news, again, there has been a silver lining to all this. It seems like you've still been able to have a lot of success with it. Obviously, you're pushing more in New Jersey right now, which is fantastic. Speaking about technology, that seems to be kind of a big trend for a lot of restaurants right now. I know you mentioned that for specifically your restaurants, a lot of them takeout is somewhat not the best option, obviously. But have you guys made any moves made any moves maybe in store, any new technology changes or shifts, to adjust to what we're dealing with now?
David Burke: Paula's going to step in here and talk to you about it because she's the one who's done it. Grab that seat. I got to...
Paula: Hi there. How are you?
Brett Linkletter: Let's do it. Good. How are you doing?
Paula: I'm good. So just to reiterate the question that I think I heard was what technology are we instituting now pandemic wise, yes?
Brett Linkletter: Yes, exactly.
Paula: No, just start it. From every level we are basically activating all delivery services in terms of needing to connect directly to the consumer who's going to be buying the meals directly from their house now. Separate from that, actually delivering that food, we're doing all these virtual events, which Chef has been doing a tremendous amount for large companies, well known brand names like inaudible airline, Verizon, et cetera. I do that using platforms such as Zoom, IG Live-
David Burke: Put that address in. And pick up crosstalk Stephanie Wells.
Paula: ... Webex,Google Hangouts, Google Meet. And then, of course, the name that everyone knows, which is Zoom. And with that component, we do ship meal kits inaudible as well.
Brett Linkletter: Meal kits, yeah. Do you guys-
Paula: And then there's... Go ahead.
Brett Linkletter: Do you guys see the whole meal kits live Zoom tutorials, is that something you guys are going to continue for a while or forever?
Paula: Yeah, absolutely.
Brett Linkletter: Very cool. And again, I asked David earlier. But is this something that you guys are doing at a restaurant level or across the board at all your restaurants?
Paula: So, it's a brand level for Chef Burke. And then, obviously, we can quarterback each location as needed. But generally speaking, these guests are all over the country. In some cases all over the world, multiple time zones. So that's really the Chef David Burke brand more so than it is the individual unit level.
Brett Linkletter: Got it. That's fantastic. What about other things in store? Are you guys doing the whole QR code menu thing now or any other kind of tech in store?
Paula: Yep, definitely. The QR code is something we had to implement right away because everybody was afraid that the virus was on the inaudible, which we know inaudible. But it became an easy thing to do and now we can get customers right to our website and our Instagram pages and such at that point too. So, it's sort of an extra level of connectivity to the quests that we didn't have before.
Brett Linkletter: Absolutely.
Paula: Just inaudible
Brett Linkletter: Wait, so you're saying that the QR code menu is also driving them to your social media sites? How do you guys have that set for anyone who maybe listening that's never even tried a QR code menu? Because I think for a lot of people... I'll tell you guys this. A lot of specifically our clients are resistant to the whole QR code menu thing because they don't want that. But obviously, like you guys just mentioned, there are some other additional benefits. How are you guys set up?
Paula: There are benefits. We prefer paper. Chef Burke prefers paper. Always has, always will. He also prefers inaudible to make a phone call to make a reservation versus going online as well. So, trying to appease all of the clients to all that we have and giving them multiple options. Some people are resistant to the QR code. But for the person who wants it we have. So, we offer both.
Brett Linkletter: Okay, got it. But how are you guys doing that? How are you driving someone to your social media sites? Is it something where it's like a little webpage, you take them the menu and then there's also a suggested links or something? How is that set up?
Paula: Your Instagram professional account provides you with a QR code that brings you right to that page, right to your Instagram account and then we have menu listed there so they can click it.
Brett Linkletter: Oh, very cool.
Paula: Or you can create a QR code, which by the way is free and easy to do, and take you straight to the website menu page as well.
Brett Linkletter: Nice. So you're driving them straight to your Instagram then. That's awesome. Very cool. Okay. And then, I guess for both of you, you guys obviously on the food side you guys serve delicious food. There's no doubt about it. But what else makes you guys different? What else are some of the reasons that you guys feel like you've been so successful other than the food side?
David Burke: Branding, marketing, trust, execution. We're like Eveready bunny on Instagram right now. We just keep pushing, right?
Paula: And I think you're transparent.
David Burke: Transparency might be a good one.
Brett Linkletter: Brand, marketing, transparency, trust. And how do you build that trust?
Paula: I think we communicate quite frequently.
David Burke: Years of execution correctly.
Brett Linkletter: On the marketing end, talk to us about kind of what you guys are doing there. Is it mostly digital at this point or what kind of marketing initiatives are you guys pursuing?
Paula: It's almost 100% digital. Everything from Facebook to Instagram. Chef has a newsletter at the corporate level for his inaudible. And then trickling down to each unit, we have newsletters that we communicate with our clientele that way as well.
Brett Linkletter: Very cool. What about text or email marketing? Are you guys doing any kind of SMS or email initiatives?
Paula: You know, it's really the newsletter that's an email blast, like a Mailchimp, that you're probably used to getting. So that's the email component. And then, the text. We've explored it but we've not actually pulled the trigger on it yet.
Brett Linkletter: Okay, got it. And on the ad front of social media, are you guys running any ads or just posting organically?
Paula: Well, we use our posts and then promote them.
Brett Linkletter: And at this point it seems like not much traditional stuff. Just purely digital?
Paula: Traditional you mean print? Very little.
Brett Linkletter: Yeah.
Paula: Very little. We do definitely editorial pieces occasionally when we're asked to do it. But not pay for editorial, so, not paid advertising.
Brett Linkletter: Got it. And so, looking at your guys business. I know David mentioned that he's not looking to make any strong moves right now in New York as least for the next foreseeable 6 to 12 months it looks like, which I don't blame him. It's a tough place to be going into business right now. If you guys are looking at further expansion, are you guys looking at New Jersey specifically? Or are there any other areas? I know he said Saudi Arabia as well. What are some areas you're looking into right now and why?
David Burke: North Carolina, DC, Philadephia, Boston, New York State, New Jersey. Those areas. Maybe a hotel deal in Chicago, Connecticut. We want to be able to drive there. I mean, North Carolina, I can't drive. It's nine hours. But it's an easy flight so inaudible into a flight. But Chicago our brand is very strong so we would entertain a hotel deal in Chicago. And otherwise, I think there's enough business for us locally in the tri state area. And then trying to conquer the world. Going to Vegas. West Coast I wouldn't touch anything because of the labor laws. inaudible Seattle and San Francisco and LA's a disgrace for hardworking restaurateurs that spent 30 years building empires only to be crumbled by the politicians. I mean, it's terrible. People have left.
Brett Linkletter: Oh, it's like a mass exodus right now. Everyone's leaving California right now. It's absolutely absurd. Believe me our agency is based in Culver City, Los Angeles. I've looked at other opportunities because you're right. Running a business in California is becoming brutal. We saw, what was it, Tesla, HP Computers, Oracle all just left California in the last few months. It's just getting ridiculous. What would you say, guys... I mean, let's just say most of our listeners on this podcast are restaurateurs usually with just a couple restaurant locations maybe. What are just some pieces of advice that you would maybe give some of these people right now dealing with some kind of hardships dealing with COVID? What are some things they should be thinking about if they want to be successful for the next call it three, six, nine months?
Paula: Minimal labor.
David Burke: Well, labors a problem. I mean, you got to streamline your menu. You got to cut out some original the labor. You got to get creative with the tip system. And you got get a percentage rent deal. You can't just pay a huge rent. Everything has to work a little different. The traditional method of having a waiter make inaudible dollars a night and a cook make$ 100 and the owner makes inaudible is not going to fly anymore because the owner's paying rent, paying utilities, he's paying this and that. But the front house is going to wind up making less money they way they do so that it balances out. There's only so much you can charge for the chicken. I mean, how much you going to pay for chicken? $ 90. How much before the levy breaks and you say that, " I can't eat out anymore at that kind of restaurant." inaudible has to give. And what happens is the waiters complain that they're only making$ 5 are actually making$ 45 an hour when they get their tips. But nobody ever listens to that when it comes to Congress and they want to keep giving them more money. So, the tip model's going to have to change. They ruined a good thing. And that's just the way it goes. You got a cook making$ 18 an hour and a waiter making $ 40 an hour. It's not balanced.
Brett Linkletter: Yeah, it's wild.
David Burke: And then inaudible aren't making anything. And then we're getting de- incentivized, but yet we're paying a spread of hours, overtimes through the roof, there's vacation pay. And if we call somebody else because it started snowing and it gets quite you still got pay them four hours. It's crazy.
Brett Linkletter: Yeah. I think that's a strong reason why you see a lot of these restaurateurs adopting this new technology. We've seen a lot of stuff like ordering at the table. Removing some of the waiters and some of their staff because it's just not doable anymore. I think the restaurant model for a lot of people was just broken and COVID has taken out all those broken models.
David Burke: I think a lot of restaurants are going to be out of business before COVID ends and before inaudible. People were having a tough time with the increased minimum wage and making ends meet and we were struggling anyway. You have a bad fourth quarter and you're done.
Brett Linkletter: Yeah, you're right. But like I was saying I think, hopefully, if there's anything we've learned from this is that the model was broken, we need to innovate, we need to be stronger and hopefully we will come back stronger from this. David, just wanted to appreciate you for your time today. This has been incredible. Such a great experience getting to speak with you. Any other final thoughts for, again, any of the restaurateurs who are listening to this right now and just are looking for some inspiration? What would you tell them?
David Burke: inaudible say this is a 35 round fight. You just got to stick it out, man. Stay on your feet and the bell will ring and we'll be back in the corner freshening up and come out swinging. That's all we can do. And also, take the opportunity to be grateful for what we have because we're still in a good position, we're in a good country, and we'll get through it. It's just a little bit of pain right now.
Brett Linkletter: Yeah, you're right. All right, David, I appreciate your time. That was incredible. And if somebody wants to look you guys up or look into your restaurants, what's the best way to do that?
Paula: ChefDavidBurke. com or @ ChefDavidBurke on Instagram.
Brett Linkletter: Amazing. So, then for all our listeners and all our viewer what we'll do is we'll include those links below this video and below on the podcast. As always the podcast is available on Apple, Spotify, Google and this video will be up on YouTube as well. David, again, appreciate your time. And we'll be in touch real soon. Thanks a lot.
David Burke: Thank you. Bye- bye.
Brett Linkletter: Bye.