Geoff Alexander is the President and CEO of Wow Bao, a fast casual Asian concept that has grown from 3 brick-and-mortar locations to over 300 locations including airports, grocery stores, and food trucks, using what Geoff calls “dark kitchens” under his direction. Geoff also has substantial experience as managing partner at Lettuce Entertain you, and has been named one of the most influential restaurant CEOs in the country according to Nation’s Restaurant News.
Here’s one featured takeaway from this episode and Geoff’s answers to the questions host Zack Oates asks each guest:
Featured Takeaway: Nothing More Important Than Building Trust With Non-Traditional Customers
By non-traditional customer, we mean someone ordering through a ghost kitchen, dark kitchen, virtual kitchen, or something similar. Because these guests don’t see where the food is coming from, these restaurants are going to have to find other ways to build trust. People are usually a little skeptical eating food from somewhere they’ve never seen or heard of.
What’s a dark kitchen? While he noted that there isn’t a strict definition, Geoff put it this way: “Our idea is that there’s a part of your restaurant that is “dark” right now – you have space that you’re not using. And we can give you a concept to put in that space and turn those lights back on.” – Geoff Alexander
1: What is the most important aspect of the guest experience today?
Be hospitable. “Go back to who you are. Whether you run 1000 restaurants or 1, something made your brand special, which is why the consumer came into your restaurant and chose you over someone else. Owners have to be back on the floor shaking hands, managers have to be doing table visits, we’ve got to get back to hospitality.”
2: What is something successful you have seen or tried lately?
Increased levels of convenience, from alcohol to grocery delivery. “It’s just been an explosion that is changing the world that we’re living in.”
3: Who is someone in the restaurant industry that deserves an Ovation?
The State Restaurant Associations. “Anyone who’s listening who’s not part of their state association, you’re really missing out because of what’s going on in the world today. We need collaboration.”