On Wednesday, August 16, we hosted top restaurateurs and chefs at the 2017 OpenTable Innovation Summit in Charleston, South Carolina. Hospitality leaders joined OpenTable CEO Christa Quarles and SVP of Marketing Scott Jampol for a meeting of the minds around the current industry landscape, discussing challenges and opportunities.
The legendary Dana Cowin led a robust conversation with chef Mike Lata (FIG, The Ordinary), Mickey Bakst of Charleston Grill, and Carrie Morey of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit around how they launched and sustained their thriving businesses.
Prasad Gune, SVP of Product for OpenTable, highlighted our new GuestCenter software, highlighting the importance of moving to the cloud. Jampol presented the audience with a deep dive into Charleston diners and what makes their behaviors unique. The day concluded with an intimate conversation between Quarles and Randall Goldman, founder of Patrick Properties Hospitality Group, around operating a business in Charleston and its singular characteristics.
Charleston is a city whose restaurants attract travelers and loyal locals alike, and operators revealed that it’s a balancing act to maintain appeal to both audiences. Some other key revelations include:
1. Emphasize function before form. Cowin observed, “I think energy has replaced design as the element that makes a restaurant successful.”
2. Put your diners first and success will follow. Bakst revealed, “Everything I have ever done is about the guest. I look at the business from the perspective of the guest, and I build the experience around that. If you do that right, everything follows.”
3. Embrace anxiety when opening your restaurant. You’re naturally going to be nervous when getting your eatery off the ground, but those feelings are a good thing. “Fear of failure,” said Lata, “is any young business’s asset.”
4. To attract and retain talent and build a brand, show your team hospitality. Goldman advised restaurateurs that “quality of life for my employees is key. Create the destination — and let your team create the journey.”
Photo credits: Paul E. Cheney, Jr.