Find out how Emily has led the restaurants of Texas through the pandemic, how you can lead your restaurant the same way, and gain expert advice that will sustain your restaurant going forward.

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You’ve heard of her, now hear from her! Emily Williams Knight, Ed.D., is the President & CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association. With more than 50,000 restaurants employing 1.3M Texans and posting sales of 70B in 2019, in her first year, Knight is at the forefront of leading one of the most important industries through the COVID 19 pandemic.

Here’s one featured takeaway from this episode and Emily’s answers to the questions host Zack Oates asks each guest:

Featured Takeaway: Consumers Want Increased Transparency

“We created the restaurant promise. It was a commitment that before you walk in that door, it says: ‘This is what is expected of you as a guest within this restaurant, and this is what you’re going to get from us.’

And that joint commitment, did two things. One, that really gave customers comfort before they entered about what was going to happen when they were in the restaurant. And two, that also gives the employees an opportunity to have a conversation with ownership about what would help them be healthy and successful.” – Emily Williams Knight

1: What is the most important aspect of the guest experience today?

1) Health, safety, and sanitation. “Customers want to know when they come into your place that it’s clean, that you’ve done the right sanitizing, and that they feel safe.”

2) Frictionless interactions. “I want to go to the website on my phone, I want to be able to order, and I want to know exactly what’s in each item.”

3) A fast experience. “I want your food and your experience on my parameters – when I want it and where I want it.”

2: What is something successful you have seen or tried lately?

1) Alcohol to go. “It really increases the check average for restaurants.”

2) Step into the grocery space. “Restaurants are really making a lot of bread and butter on extending what you’re selling and what format you’re selling it in.”

3) Streamlining of menus. “Be really good at what you do and be consistent in what you do.”

3: Who is someone in the restaurant industry that deserves an Ovation?

The frontline workers of the restaurant industry. “As a nation we need to embrace these people. Because without them, we would not be able to feed every American. But that’s the role restaurants play, so we’ve got to do a better job of appreciating and thanking those people.”

For more from Emily, you can find her on Twitter, email her at, or visit the Texas Restaurant Association @txrestassoc everywhere.

Thanks for reading! Make sure to check out the whole episode, as well as other interviews with restaurant gurus by checking out “Give an Ovation: A Podcast For Restaurants” on or your favorite place to listen to podcasts.

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