A Master Class In Life As A Restaurateur


Restaurant Legends

Rich Melman in Conversation

This is Richard Melman, founder of the Chicago based multi-concept restaurant group…Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises with over 120 restaurants in operation now and several more on the drawing board.

The conversation, at times, sounded just like a couple of guys who haven't talked in awhile. Each reminiscing about the old days. But there are also peeks into how the mind of this very creative and successful restaurateur views surviving and flourishing in a very tough industry.

00:45:49 8/6/2021

Past Episodes

Restaurant Legends

Well…your back in action now aren't you. Your dining room can be loaded up the way it used to be over a year ago. Your relieved that you made it through with a little help from the government. Your landlord may have worked out a deal to let you pay off un-paid back rent. And it was the good will of the loyal customers who called every night for a pick-up or delivery order that kept the lights on and some of your staff employed. But there are some other problems nagging at you that came out of left field and caught you unaware and without a plan.

The staff you were hoping would be itching to get back to work has vanished. The ground beef you were buying a year ago March is now 50% higher than it was then and your supplier can only bring it to you once a week because he doesn't have enough drivers to cover the regular routes.

So you can't bring all the tables back. You need to re-price your menu to cover the increasing food costs. And the menu needs to be reduced because you don't have enough hands to produce all the wonderful food that made up your menu. There are answers, we just need to keep swinging for the fences and we'll find them.

Tipping vs No-Tipping P&L Samples


6Smith Restaurant




Timeout Spaceout – Erik Vanderwestern

Outlaw's Farewell (part three) – Reed Mathis

Sunday Stroll – Huma Huma

00:19:39 7/14/2021
Restaurant Legends

A 30-minute Skype call is not meant to reveal the true colors or inner soul. If it does have a specific purpose, I would guess it to be a way to make contact and maybe…maybe expose a tiny crack to glimpse the real person sitting at the screen on the other side. If there is one thing to come away with from this brief encounter is that the "less is more" axiom does not exist in the Viviani universe. He's a handful of lightning yet fun and charming all along the way.

Fabio Viviani has harbored a passion for food since his childhood growing up in Florence, Italy. Between training in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine at top hospitality schools. Viviani also owned, operated and successfully executed several concepts in Florence by the time he was 27, including two nightclubs and five restaurants. Fabio Viviani Hospitality Group has opened 34 restaurants to date, and in the next 18 months is scheduled to open 14 more venues, including 5 Hotels in partnerships with different operators. Best known for his participation in Bravo's Top Chef seasons 5 and 8 - earning the "Fan Favorite" title - his onscreen appearances and off-screen successes have propelled him to become one of the most influential culinary and hospitality names in the country.

Chef Fabio Viviani Website

Colbie's Southern Kissed Kitchen

Fabio Viviani Chef Reel – Top Chef


Carry Your Own Weight – Forget the Whale

Five Shades of Blue – Five Shades of Blue

Blue Midnight – Blues Jam

00:37:17 6/7/2021
Restaurant Legends

The makers and sellers of your favorite adult beverages approach their relationship with the hospitality venues buying their product in a different way than any other vendor we deal with. We rarely see a representative of the cattle ranch come into the restaurant talking about new trending beef recipes and bringing a cut of beef to put on display. But every day an "On Premise Manager" representing just about every bottle behind the bar does exactly that. Their job is to get you to use more of their brand than any other. One company, Diageo the worlds largest producer of spirits and beers, has created an extremely successful way of doing just that. They have created ways of getting involved with owners, managers, servers and bartenders through programs like the Diageo Bar Academy (a robust web site with bar management education, recipes, product information) and a program educating bars to create unforgettable experiences through competition, studios and community involvement called World Class. And these are only a few of the many ways Diageo uses.

Heather Chaney is one of those spirit (or spirited) managers representing Diageo wherever and however is needed. Our chat reveals just a few of the ways her work with Diageo has aided and is continuing to help restaurants and bars get back on their feet after the yearlong pandemic break.


Diageo Bar Academy

World Class


Modern Jazz Samba – Kevin Mcleod

The Jazz Piano – Bensound

Flagpole Sitta – Harvey Danger

00:46:17 6/1/2021
Restaurant Legends

One advantage to being a serial entrepreneur is that you're probably going to seize upon the next great idea way before anyone else really knows anything about it because you walk around with your antennae up all the time. Well, that's how Twin Falls Idaho got 2nd South Market and how Dave Buddecke got his next entrepreneurial challenge.

The food hall is not a new concept. But in its current incarnation they seem to be popping up all over the place. In some markets maybe a few too many. But the basic premise is to offer a variety of food, beverages and sometimes entertainment under one roof. There's no one model that everyone is trying to emulate. And that's a good thing because what works in one building in one city wont necessarily work in the next city or neighborhood.

2nd South Market – Twin Falls, Idaho


Totally Looped – Audionautix


00:44:16 5/15/2021
Restaurant Legends

"Who's the leader of this madhouse?" I'm not totally convinced this sentiment is exclusive to the restaurant industry…but it's a phrase spoken often in bars, dining rooms and kitchens all over the country. Ken Mcgarrie was hearing it as well and it drove him to complete a 20 year back of the shelf project that's become The Surprise Restaurant Manager. A book of advice on the procedures and processes of successfully managing a restaurant filled with the life lessons and practical recommendations that can be an aide to both the novice and the seasoned pro.

The Surprise Restaurant Manager on Amazon

Korgen Hospitality – Ken's consulting group


I Have A Reservation – Track Tribe

00:47:30 5/9/2021
Restaurant Legends

Micha Magid knew what was missing in midtown Manhattan barbecue when he launched Mighty Quinn several years ago. The others that had come before ignored their sense of place. Barbecue shouldn't be a Disney ride built to convince the guest they're about to experience another time and place. To connect it has to be as real as you can make it. Mighty Quinn is about local connections for both meat and smoke. It's a restaurant company that champions sustainability and recycling by selling soap made from the byproduct of their butchered meats.

We first talked last April at the beginning of the shutdown. (see Mighty Quinn 's Micha Magid; Restaurant Life After the Lockdown) The chain was hunkering down to learn how to survive but had also already began their growth plans. They are now thriving and moving into 4th gear to complete the franchises that were already in the pipeline as well as preparing new franchisees to join the barbecue family.

Mighty Quinn's BBQ


I Have A Reservation - Track Tribe

Diageo Bar Academy

00:40:48 5/2/2021
Restaurant Legends

A restaurateur is an entrepreneur that has something special and different about them. And as my own informally collected data suggests, the men and women in this category possess a fire somewhere inside fueling their drive to create and build a business that transcends the ordinary wealth making machine. Ike Shehadeh of Ike's Love & Sandwiches is such a restaurateur building an empire with the teachings of frugal parents, a streak of civil disobedience and a "nothing but the best" attitude toward hospitality and great food.

Ike's Love & Sandwiches is known for its world-famous Dutch Crunch bread lathered in Ike's Secret Dirty Sauce. With unique flavor pairings fit for vegans, carnivores, gluten-free diets and everyone in between, there's something for everyone to love at Ike's. At the Las Vegas location, you can score a "High Roller" sandwich made with premium meats for $100.

Ike's Love & Sandwiches

USBG presents World Class sponsored by Diageo Bar Academy

00:52:49 4/23/2021
Restaurant Legends

Franklin Junction bills itself as a mixture of Airbnb and Match.com — but for restaurants. The platform finds kitchens with extra capacity and matches them with brands that want to expand into new locations. Franklin Junction launched in 2020, but it's been in development for two years.

The industry was under capacity by 15 to 20 percent before COVID-19. If you know anything about the retail business, it's all at the margin. If you fill up that last 15 or 20 percent, you make a lot of money. All your fixed costs are covered already. So, can I sell food for other people? The difference between innovating your own food and other people's food is: You get the benefit of the other person's branding!

Franklin Junction is a digital platform that allows restaurants to monetize excess kitchen and storage capacity by serving as "Host Kitchens™." Host facilities are matched with a thoughtfully curated roster of crave-able menu items from great restaurant concepts, allowing the Host to increase revenue and hosted brands to expand geographic reach without capital expenditure. Franklin Junction's proprietary matching process has allowed for an industry-best time to profit for their clients. For more information, visit www.franklinjunction.com.

How to Save Restaurants? Meet "the Airbnb and Match.com of Food" – Jason Feifer, Entrepreneur.com, May 12, 2020

00:45:58 4/8/2021
Restaurant Legends

Restaurant Recipe Management; Josh Sharkey's Meez

Burning ideas get snuffed out in the miasma of defeat. But it's also defeat that sometimes raise simple ideas to brilliance.

Mis En Place is a kitchen phrase that means "everything in it's place". The generation of a digital method to manage recipes for a restaurant is here and there are quite a few ways to manage your mis en place. When Josh Sharkey lost his bible of culinary notes gleaned from some of the top kitchens in New York it set in motion the need to develop Meez a recipe tool for the professional Chef.

Josh began cooking in restaurants around age 16 then went on to culinary school and cooking full-time. As was, and still is, the custom in many professional kitchens, everything you learn is kept in your own little spiral notebook. Its where you kept your ideas, what you were learning, and what you were eating and tasting. For Josh, one little spiral notebook turned into 2, then 5, and soon, more than he could count. This was the genesis of a recipe and note keeping software called Meez.

Meez Recipe Tool



Epic and Rock n Roll – Black Rhomb



Diageo Bar Academy

USBG World Class Competition

00:40:28 3/27/2021
Restaurant Legends

What does it take to let the world know who you are and why you're here? Existential questions that have plagued mankind forever. Along life's journey we take the turns that lead us along a path. Some turns are handed to us or even forced upon us while others are all of our own making. To understand this and live a life based on this understanding is a good description of Neyah White.

The story he tells in our conversation is not so much a unique tale as it is a clear roadmap that led Neyah from the eastern shore of Maryland to a place behind a bar in San Francisco that opened the world to him. A small step that led to the wide world of cocktails as an innovator in the craft style of mixing that now permeates the better bars around the world. Then becoming a brand ambassador for Suntory Whiskey. A job that not only helped spread the word of mixology (and his humorous attitude toward the word) but also immersed him the modern Japanese culture. Then now recently back to his hometown of Chestertown, Maryland to build a business in a bar that many years ago he told the owner he would own someday.

There were too many great parts of his story that couldn't be left on the editing room floor. So, enjoy a short bonus track of his early years only at www.restaurantlegends.com


Neyah White and Thomas Kaylor



Shizima3 by PeriTune | http://peritune.com

Attriibution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)


01:01:45 3/14/2021

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