Operators need to take the reins: learnings from the Restaurant Leaders Summit

27 September, 2016 by
Danielle Bowling

On 26 September, Doltone House was packed full of chefs and restaurateurs attending the inaugural Restaurant Leaders Summit, hoping to gain insight into how they can improve the efficiency and profitability of their business.

Approximately 250 industry members attended the one day conference, which boasted a 36-strong line-up of speakers including Urban Purveyor Group CEO, Thomas Pash; The Fink Group’s creative director, John Fink; Merivale’s HR manager, Kate Tones; nel. Restaurant’s Nelly Robinson and plenty more.

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Business best practice was the overriding theme of the day, with topics including Building a Winning Database; Social Media: How to Hold onto the Hype; Essential Skills for Successful Chefs; and Financing Your Growth Strategy.

A key message repeated throughout the day was that foodservice operators need to be involved in every aspect of their operation, whether it be menu costing, marketing or rostering. Danielle Gjestland, owner of Wasabi in Noosa, said restaurateurs need to have their financial house in order, and while some accounting can be outsourced, it’s nave for operators to think they can turn a blind eye to how their books are run.

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Erez Gordon, owner of Bishop Sessa in Surry Hills, echoed this sentiment in a panel discussing the best ways to capture and utilise diners’ email addresses. While there’s value in engaging marketing professionals, the best way to ensure that you’re communicating with your patrons in a way that suits your offering and style, is to do it yourself.

160926-RestaurantSummit_0200.jpgKen Burgin moderated the Dishes into Dollars session

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Head chef at Oakridge Winery, Matt Stone, spoke about his commitment to sustainability, which sees the restaurant sourcing ingredients as locally as possible (a lot of produce comes from the on-site kitchen garden) – and, due to its distance from the sea, turns its back on seafood. Stone said every foodservice business can implement sustainable practices, regardless of their budget or expertise in the area; it’s just a matter of making the commitment and acknowledging that it will be a slow and steady, but rewarding, endeavour.

Ameer El-Issa delivering an engaging presentation on the Knafeh concept, explaining how the idea was brought to life and the challenges the team has faced in managing a mobile restaurant with a cult-like following. He was accompanied by Josephine Perry, who spoke about How Millenials Run Restaurants, comparing her management style to restaurateurs from her father’s generation.

160926-RestaurantSummit_0739.jpgSocial Media: Holding onto the Hype

The inaugural Restaurant Leaders Summit also included the release of top level data from Intermedia’s Eating Out report – the most extensive survey ever conducted in the industry.

Based on two surveys – one of over 1,000 consumers and another of over 1,000 venues, including restaurants, cafes and coffee shops, fast food outlets, pubs and clubs – the study breaks down the significance of each subsector, and sheds light on the key inhibitors to growth and profitability, as well as defining the top 10 trends influencing menus at the moment.

“We believe this is the biggest market analysis project of its kind ever undertaken in Australia,” said project manager Graeme Philipson.

“There have been small surveys, but no-one has ever attempted to present an overall picture of the entire eating out industry, which is worth tens of billions of dollars a year.”

160926-RestaurantSummit_0771.jpgBuilding a Winning Database, with Howard Tinker, John Fink, Erez Gordon and Grant Lewers.

Hospitality magazine would like to thanks the Restaurant Leaders Summit’s sponsors, without which the event would not have been possible. They include PorkStar OpenTable, Moffat, Deliveroo, Impos, JL Lennard and Intrust Super.

A special mention also has to go out to the speakers, who so willingly gave up their Monday to share their expertise with fellow industry members. Your contribution is greatly appreciated.

We look forward to bringing the event back – bigger and better – in 2017!

160926-RestaurantSummit_0893.jpgDiversifying your Revenue Stream with Erez Gordon, Craig Macindoe, Alex Herbert and Levi Aron.