The most on-point quotes from the Restaurant Directions conference

Photograph by Scott Mitchell

“In today’s market, financial capital is easier to find than people capital.”
—Mark Gray, CEO of HopCat parent BarFly Ventures

“I can’t afford a CFO, so get me a VP of finance who might be able to grow into a CFO. Before you know it, you have someone who’s learning to shave on your face.”
—David Birzon, CEO of Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, on the compromises young concepts make short-term, with disastrous long-range results

“You’re in for a proctologist examination by lawyers and bankers.”
—Andy Pforzheimer, chairman of Barteca Restaurant Group, on what happens after an emerging concept selects a finance partner

“We used to see people move for higher-wage jobs. A lot of the higher-wage jobs [today] are in housing markets that are very, very difficult to move into. What we’re seeing now is more people moving because of costs.”
—Arjun Chakravarti, assistant professor at Illinois Institute of Technology’s Stuart School of Business, on one of the new challenges to employers

“The top four third-party delivery services, If you wrapped them together, would be one of the biggest restaurant chains, probably about No. 8, with sales of $2.2 billion.”
—Sara Monnette, VP of research and insights for Technomic

“People today trust business and business leaders more than they trust government.”
Sarah Lockyer, SVP of content for Winsight, on the need for a restaurant operation to stand for something

 “Paul McCartney told me to never drop names.”
Charlie Worsham, the Nashville-based singer-songwriter who opened the Music City conference with two country songs.

"You have to meet your competitors at the rim."
—Pat Riley, the NBA coach-turned-motivational-speaker, on opposing Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan"

"When customers go into a restaurant today, the most important tools are not a knife and fork, it’s the phone."
—Chef Neil Doherty, Sr. director of Sysco Culinary Development

"Good real estate can survive a bad operator, but bad real estate can’t survive a good operator."
—Robert Thompson, founder & CEO, Punch Bowl Social 

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Red Lobster gives private equity another black eye

The Bottom Line: The role a giant sale-leaseback had in the bankruptcy filing of the seafood chain has drawn more criticism of the investment firms' financial engineering. The criticism is well-earned.


Beverage chains are taking off as consumers shift their drink preferences

The Bottom Line: Some of the fastest-growing chains in the U.S. push drinks, even as sales at traditional concepts lag in growing delivery and takeout business. How can traditional restaurants get in on the action?


Brands need to think creatively as the industry heads into a value war

The Bottom Line: Giving customers meal options they can afford will be key to generating traffic this year. But make sure those offers can generate a profit.


More from our partners