Posted: Apr 24, 2020
I have had the honor of being a colleague of one of the great restaurant operators in Chicago, Illinois. Over the past decades, Angelo Eliades has served in senior capacities with many of the top restaurant brands in our city. Today I interviewed him and asked him to share his background and provide valuable information for restaurateurs in this time of crisis.
Mr. Eliades comes from a traditional Greek family. Much of Chicago’s restaurant history can be linked back to the “the first Greeks who arrived as ship captains in the 1840's. They started out as food peddlers and, by natural progression, became restaurant owners.”
LT: How did you start off in the restaurant industry?
AE: I was one few persons with Greek origins in our city who didn’t begin his career with a legacy from the restaurant business. As a young man, I learned business by working with my father in the plastics manufacturing industry. After college I continued to work with my dad. At the time I was learning the areas of management, sales, and purchasing.
In the late 80’s I began my food and beverage career as a bartender with Ala Carte Restaurants. Shortly after, I took a role as a floor manager with the high profile Excalibur night club.
My greatest test began when I took a position with the famous Capitanini Family owned Italian Village. I was told I wouldn’t make it 6 months. This is where I learned the tenets of work ethic, loyalty, and operations. I held my position for 7 years. It was inspiring to see Mr. Capitani, well into his senior years, working in the kitchen, washing dishes, and cleaning calamari. He taught me the importance of rolling up your sleeves and working hard along side your staff.
In 2009 I joined the famous Rosebud group where I serve as General Manager Rosebud Operations to this day.
LT: What would you say are some great life lessons you have learned operating businesses?
AG: The most significant personal lessons I have learned are how to work with people; the importance of cultivating relationships; taking the blinders off and looking ahead; and finally that even if you see a customer just once a year they are every bit as important as those who we see often. They are all important. To this day I continue to nurture the relationships from my early years in the restaurant business.
On the business side I learned the power of understanding financial statements, profit optimization, and systems implementation to secure success. I thank my dad for teaching me these skills during my tenure in plastics manufacturing.
LT: What words of inspiration do you have for those furloughed in our industry?
AG: Just because something was taken away from us doesn’t mean it is the end of world. This is an opportunity to hit the reset. Perhaps there is a new career in another industry for you. Every time something is taken away a new door opens.
LT: What are some great mitigation ideas you have heard or feel we can apply to help our businesses bridge the gap during this crisis?
AG: There isn’t one golden bullet. You have to adapt your business model immediately. Ask yourself, in these times, how do I build my catering, and delivery sales channel? Realize you are now competing with people who primarily relied on delivery such as the pizza and Chinese food categories. You need to adjust your food to travel as well as your competitor’s food does..
a) It's time to look at how to maximize my output with a limited staff. Look at dollars not percentage labor cost.
b) In order for your brand to be relevant when we come out of this, you have to be effective in keeping your doors open now.
c) Lower waste (get food in and out).
d) Sell food to prepare at home. Put a menu together that will deliver the quality you have in the restaurant.
LT: What 5 point plan would you put in place to drive as much business as possible during these difficult times?
AE: Here is the five point plan.
i) Time to look at the budget. Analyze your budget and P&L first before you act.
ii) Determine how to maximize your output.
iii) Design a focused menu that will work. Now is not the time to carry a full inventory.
iv) Create and implement marketing strategy.
v) Find a digital platform that will bring traffic to what we now call our virtual restaurant environment.
If you or your company are in need of powerful operational and digital solutions please contact us at Contact at Go-Wine.com or Email Creative Entertainment Concepts.
By Luis Torres
April 24, 2020
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