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Send us a Text Message. Note: This episode was recorded before the recent passing of Solomon Choi. He was a dear friend to Zack and the Ovation team, and though we are saddened and shocked by his passing, we were grateful to share this conversation with him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. In this episode of Give an Ovation, Zack Oat…
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Send us a Text Message. In this special episode of Give an Ovation, host Zack Oates chats with Andrew Smith, Managing Director and Co-Founder of the Savory Fund. Andrew shares invaluable insights into building a successful team, the importance of decisive action, and the current state of the restaurant industry. Tune in to learn how Andrew and his …
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Send us a Text Message. Today, we're thrilled to welcome Tom Gordon, CEO of Slim Chickens. With nearly 22 years at the helm, Tom has been instrumental in transforming Slim Chickens into a beloved brand known for its innovative LTOs and consistently delicious offerings. We discuss how Tom balances staying true to the core menu while continuously int…
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Send us a Text Message. In this Crispy episode of "Give an Ovation," Zack Oates sits down with Jeremy Carlson, founder and CEO of Crispy Cones, to talk about the rollercoaster journey from starting a business to appearing on Shark Tank and beyond. Jeremy shares the highs and lows of building his brand, the importance of guest experience, and the in…
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Send us a Text Message. In this episode of "Give an Ovation," Zack Oates welcomes Jim Mizes, a restaurant industry legend with an impressive track record, including roles as VP of PepsiCo, President of brands like Einstein Bros and Blaze Pizza, and various advisory roles. Jim shares his insights on scaling restaurant brands, the importance of align…
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Send us a Text Message. In this 300th episode of "Give an Ovation," host Zack Oates welcomes back Olga Lopategui, a seasoned restaurant marketing consultant and the Founder of Restaurant Loyalty Specialists. Olga shares her expertise in setting up and optimizing loyalty programs for restaurant chains, offering insights into the importance of proces…
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Send us a Text Message. In this episode of "Give an Ovation," host Zack Oates sits down with Seth Cohen, President and Co-founder of Sweetfin. Seth shares the inspiring journey of Sweetfin's inception, its innovative approach to fast-casual dining, and the emphasis on guest experience that has driven their success. From mastering the art of poke in…
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Send us a Text Message. In this episode of "Give an Ovation," Zack Oates sits down with Natalie Green, the dynamic COO of Nekter Juice Bar. With over 200 locations, Natalie shares insights from her 12-year journey at Nekter, focusing on the importance of supply chain management, consistency in guest experience, and leveraging technology to enhance …
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Send us a Text Message. Today we're joined by Emily Cole, the visionary owner of the viral sensation, the Savannah Bananas. Emily shares her journey of transforming the traditional baseball experience into a lively, fun-filled event that captivates fans of all ages. From introducing all-you-can-eat tickets to choreographed player entrances, Emily d…
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Send us a Text Message. Susie Sarich created SusieCakes for two reasons: 1) to make it easier for women to work in hospitality, and 2) to bring back classic desserts recipes to the culinary wild west she was witnessing in San Francisco. With her Grandmas' timeless recipes and a focus on each guest, SusieCakes has grown to 26 locations and is poised…
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Send us a Text Message. Join Nick Newbill, Marketing Director of 7 Brew Coffee, as he shares his journey from shift lead to marketing leader. At 7 Brew Coffee, great guest experiences are as important as the perfect brew. He highlights the brand's core values: kindness, authenticity, and community engagement, which have built a loyal customer base.…
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Send us a Text Message. At the beginning, Scott Lawton didn't know what food he was going to sell at his restaurant concept - but he knew how he wanted it to feel. The rest figured itself out. On this episode, we explore the art of creating an exceptional guest experience with Scott Lawton, CEO of bartaco and Uncle Julio's Restaurant Group. Scott s…
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Send us a Text Message. Joining us today is Jim Bitticks, President and COO of Dave's Hot Chicken! Have you ever wondered how Dave's became the phenomenon that it is? On this episode, we explore the brand's formula for success, starting with their rise from a humble pop-up to a thriving franchise. Jim shares how a single review ignited their growth…
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Send us a Text Message. Today we talk with Ricky Richardson, a seasoned pro from TGI Fridays who is now leading Eggs Up Grill. Ricky shares practical insights on authentic leadership and managing high-energy environments while fostering emotional connections with teams and guests. He emphasizes the importance of passion and effective communication …
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Send us a Text Message. Join us as we chat with Brian Loescher, President of Golden Chick Franchising, about the secrets behind a stellar restaurant experience. Drawing from his background at Rally's Hamburgers and Arby's, Brian shares practical insights for standing out in customer service and technology. Learn about the importance of order accura…
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Send us a Text Message. Today's guest is Craig Dunaway, COO of Penn Station East Coast Subs, who shares insights from his 25 years in the restaurant industry. Learn how to spot lasting trends, adopt new technologies wisely, and use a 'fast follow' approach to stay ahead without breaking the bank. We'll dive into how third-party delivery services ar…
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Send us a Text Message. It's Bo time! Today's episode is with Sergio Pérez, Senior Director of Omnichannel at Bojangles, who takes us through his journey from an intern to a strategic executive in the world of restaurant marketing. We also talk through the 3 C's: Convenience, Consistency, and Connection, and how you can use them to acquire new gues…
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Send us a Text Message. Today we sit down with Shake Shack's CIO, Dave Harris. As you can imagine, he had some great insights on tech stacks, the balance between human and tech-centered hospitality, and the potential he sees AI having on the industry. If you're looking for some high level views on tech in your restaurant, as well as some in-the-wee…
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Send us a Text Message. Why should all of us care if restaurants are adopting a big-picture strategy? Sure, Mcdonald's should have a strategy team, if not an entire department. But let's get real - say you've got 14 locations. How do you justify having someone as talented and expensive as Jared Cohen? Jared and Zack explored this on the podcast thi…
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Send us a Text Message. Today's episode is with Matt Tucker, a titan in the industry who was formerly the President and COO of Olo, and is now the Head of Tock. Matt and Zack discuss: The 'cockroach' strategy—a testament to the relentless hustle required to weather the tempests of industry uncertainties Ben Horowitz's "The Hard Thing About Hard Thi…
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Send us a Text Message. Today's episode is with the CEO of Big Chicken and Beer Park, Josh Halpern, from whom we learn all about the good and the hard that comes from a star-backed brand. Sure, Shaq can bring them in. But how do you get them to stay? Stay tuned to find out, and learn some valuable lessons about loyalty for your restaurant. Thanks, …
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Send us a Text Message. Imagine treating every diner like Grandma – with warmth, affection, and a genuine concern for their experience. That's the philosophy Andy Husbands, the acclaimed chef behind Smoke Shop BBQ and the author of "Pitmaster," brings to our table in an eye-opening discussion about the transformative power of hospitality in the res…
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Send us a Text Message. Our episode today is a heartfelt conversation with the powerhouse behind Giving Kitchen, where we uncover the incredible journey that led Jen from personal tragedy to the founding of an organization that's the embodiment of hope for food service workers facing crisis. Through Giving Kitchen, Jen and her team have turned the …
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Send us a Text Message. Ever wonder how Chick-fil-A became a byword for customer service excellence? Brian Klinger from Comcast joins us to unravel the secrets behind blending technology with the human touch to create unforgettable restaurant experiences. We discuss common industry challenges, like upsizing checks and staff shortages, and how compa…
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Send us a Text Message. Is leadership an art or a science? Sam Fauser, the guru of team training and development who's left a mark on Domino’s and NASCAR, joins us to explore this intriguing terrain. Together, we pull back the curtain on the evolution of leadership, challenging long-standing myths about 'lazy' generations and discussing the importa…
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Send us a Text Message. In this episode, Max Sheets, Founder & CEO of Chick N Max, peels back the curtain on melding cutting-edge data analytics and AI with the indispensable art of site visits to pinpoint the perfect spot for a thriving restaurant. Whether it's the buzz in the kitchen or the welcome at the door, Max reveals how a deep understandin…
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Send us a Text Message. This episode has a lot of... hart. Discover the art of building a brand that shines on its own, even when it's linked to the dazzle of a celebrity like Kevin Hart. Join us as Andy Hooper, CEO of Hart House, opens up about the delicate dance of leveraging star attraction while ensuring that the brand's essence captivates and …
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Send us a Text Message. Jennifer Ryan is the restaurateur behind BlueRoot, a seemingly rare example of healthy, tasting eating in Alabama. She's also the Co-Founder and CEO of Croux, an online marketplace that connects vetted talent with flexible work opportunities. On this episode, Jennifer walks us through creating a culture of "yes" at BlueRoot,…
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Send us a Text Message. Prepare to be enlightened by Carin Stutz, a hospitality giant whose restaurant industry experience serves as the backbone of today's conversation. Her tenure at the helm of industry giants like Wendy's and Applebee's has made her a veritable oracle of career wisdom. For anyone dreaming of a hospitality career that leaves a l…
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Send us a Text Message. Tune in to this week's episode with Michael McHenry, the mastermind behind The McHenry Group, as he joins us to unravel the intricacies of curating dining experiences that linger after the last bite. Michael shares his creative journey, revealing the fusion of tradition and innovation that goes into each menu item's concepti…
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Send us a Text Message. Uncover the secrets behind the scenes of the restaurant world with David Doty, the financier turned hospitality expert. Our conversation peels back the curtain on the meticulous craft of curating a five-star guest experience, revealing the heart and soul that transform a meal into an enduring memory. David imparts his unique…
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Send us a Text Message. Unlock the secrets behind the fast-food revolution with Eric Knott, COO of PDQ, as we discuss the art of enhancing the guest experience in the bustling restaurant industry. Learn how PDQ's dedication to quality goes beyond mouthwatering meals, delving into the heart of their team dynamics and community engagement. As we exam…
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Send us a Text Message. Discover the secret sauce behind creating an unforgettable guest experience with Laura Ray Dickey, the CEO of Dickey's BBQ Pit. Dickey's BBQ is a legacy brand that began in 1941. In this episode, Laura pulls back the curtain on what it takes to serve up mouthwatering barbecue and lays bare the critical decisions that shape a…
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Send us a Text Message. Unlock the secrets of social media stardom with Cereal Killerz Kitchen Owner, Chris Burns. Chris dishes out the recipe for creating content that not only tickles the taste buds but also captures the hearts of over a million followers. Step into the vibrant hustle of Las Vegas Strip marketing, where Chris Burns navigates the …
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Send us a Text Message. Step into the dynamic world of hospitality as Jordan Cusner shares how he transitioned from musician to lawyer, and now guest insights as he executes enhanced dining experiences with data-driven creativity. Jordan reveals his philosophy on cultivating ideas and reflects on the industry's most mouth-watering advancements, thi…
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Send us a Text Message. Get ready because this week's episode dives into the booming industry of fast casual fried-chicken as we chat with Dave's Hot Chicken's powerhouse duo: Co-Founder/CBO Arman Oganesyan and CEO Bill Phelps. Arman's marketing ingenuity and Bill's strategic eye have catapulted Dave's Hot Chicken from a local curiosity to a nation…
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Send us a Text Message. Welcome to our milestone 250th episode of the Give an Ovation podcast, where we have assembled an all-star panel of industry experts: 🎙 Kelly MacPherson, Union Square Hospitality Group 🎙 Shawn P. Walchef, Cali BBQ Media 🎙 David "Rev" Ciancio, Handcraft Burgers and Brew, Branded Hospitality Ventures, and... everywhere else ba…
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Send us a Text Message. Strap in as we journey through an insightful conversation with Dan Simons, Founder and Co-owner of Farmers Restaurant Group. As a leader in the business world, he underlines the importance of striking a balance – pushing employees to achieve their goals while also ensuring their mental well-being is prioritized. On this epis…
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Send us a Text Message. Imagine dining in a world-class restaurant and, as an added bonus, enjoying a lively game of bowling or bocce right there. That's the winning recipe Dale Schwartz, Founder and CEO of Pinstripes, brings to the table. From his journey as a visionary entrepreneur to the inception of Pinstripes, Dale shares the ups and downs of …
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Send us a Text Message. Experience a revealing conversation as we delve into the intricate world of diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DIB) in the restaurant industry with Dr. James Pogue. You'll gain a new appreciation for the importance of DIB and its role in enhancing productivity, igniting innovation, and strengthening collaboration. On this …
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Send us a Text Message. Get ready to feast on some delicious insights as we sit down with Gus Malliaris, the genius behind Detroit Wing Company and its rise from a singular location to 31 thriving branches. We unwrap the secrets behind Gus's success underscoring the power of customer experience in the restaurant game. On this episode, you'll learn …
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Send us a Text Message. Meet Joe Fontana, the charismatic owner of a successful chicken sandwich restaurant, Fry the Coop. With an unwavering commitment to enhancing the guest experience, Joe reveals how he's carved out a successful niche within the bustling chicken industry. We tackle the tough topic of survival in a cut-throat market and the ever…
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Send us a Text Message. Join us as we sit down with Troy Hooper, CEO of Hot Pallet America, the parent company of dining phenomenon, Pepper Lunch, and dive into the unique experience that sets them apart. Troy shares not only the intriguing locations of these restaurants but also his perspective on how to stand out in the food industry through exce…
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Send us a Text Message. Ever wonder how top restaurant brands create a guest experience that keeps customers coming back for more? Prepare to be enlightened as we sit down with Donna Josephson, CMO of Shipley's Donuts, a seasoned marketer who has worked with big names such as Chick-fil-A, Applebee's, Wendy's, and McAllister's. Donna lays bare the c…
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Send us a Text Message. Ever wondered about the inner workings of the restaurant industry? Sam Oches is an award-winning editorial director of Informa's Restaurant and Food Group. Sam Oches has had his eye on the industry for quite some time and has developed an eye for exploring the factors shaping this dynamic landscape. On this episode, you'll l…
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Send us a Text Message. Get ready to uncover the mysteries behind the success of Groucho's Deli, an iconic restaurant that's stood the test of time for 80 years. Deric Rosenbaum, the president of this thriving chain, joins us on the show to share his insights on a two-fold approach to innovation and the significance of open platforms. On this episo…
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Send us a Text Message. Are you ready to revolutionize the way you perceive restaurant marketing? Join us as we turn the tables with the brilliant author and consultant, Chip Klose. We pick his brain about his game-changing book, 'Restaurant Marketing Mindset.' This is not just another marketing guide; it's a deep dive into the psychology of your p…
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Send us a Text Message. Ready for a story of resilience and innovation in the restaurant industry? Join us as we sit down with Andrew Simmons, the dynamic CEO of Mama Ramona's Pizzeria. Andrew shares his rollercoaster journey, from buying the business right before the pandemic, navigating through the crisis, to coming out stronger. He gives us insi…
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Send us a Text Message. What does it take to lead successful brands like Red Robin, Torchy's Tacos, California Pizza Kitchen, and Texas Roadhouse? G.J. Hart, current CEO of Red Robin, breaks it down for us, stressing the importance of remaining true to the essence of the brand while testing changes to keep it attractive to customers. G.J.'s insight…
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Send us a Text Message. Have you ever wondered how plant based food can serve the growing global demand for burgers? Join Zack Oates as he sits down with Benjamin Kaplan, co-founder and CEO of Plant Burger, who shares his fascinating journey into the world of plant-based cuisine. From his personal switch to a flexitarian diet to the creation of Pla…
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