Mark Brezinski has been a longstanding expert in the restaurant industry for over 40 years with experience working with industry giants such as YUM! Brands and Pei Wei. Now with his book, ForkFight, Brezinki opens up about his successes and failures in the restaurant world, by chronicling the stories collected through traveling the globe to create great restaurants and working alongside some of the most dynamic personalities.
Tell of a time that your out-of-the-box thinking got you in trouble:
“I came up with this burger idea because I felt like nobody had really gone after better fast food . . .
. . . it just didn’t work, Zack. Location or timing wise. We had 170/183 reviews were 5 star. I just couldn’t get the revenue. I thought I had done my homework, It just didn’t work. I look back and say: you can make mistakes, I don’t care how old/young you are or how much research you’ve done, our business is very brutally honest. There’s no magic to it, it either works or it doesn’t work.”
What’s been a brand you’ve been most proud of working with?
“It’s an easy answer for me, I did an Indian restaurant right after I left Pei Wei Asian Diner. I felt as though there was a market for Indian food because it’s exciting, vibrant, a little bit mysterious, exotic, wonderful flavors, and colorful. From this, I created a concept called Bengal Coast. That was purely me. There wasn’t a bunch of partners getting together in a room coming up with a vision, I did a lot of research on it myself but unfortunately we opened that right at the beginning of the finance financial crisis of 2008 . . .
. . . It just didn’t work but I was so proud of it.“
What do you think is the most important aspect of guest experience nowadays?
“For me, understanding the guest experience takes a little bit more of an old school approach. You need to be there and envelop yourself in the experience. I think the hardest thing to do is anticipate how somebody else is going to react to what you think they should react to. You’ve got to almost categorize it in 3 categories: new brands starting to establish themselves, existing brand that’s wanting to grow, or established brand that is growing at a smaller pace. I think, as a new brand. The guest experience is something you have to be in the middle of and do it yourself.”