Carl Orsbourn and Meredith Sandland are Co-authors of the book Delivering the Digital Restaurant: Your Roadmap to the Future of Food. They’re also the Co-founders of Learn.Delivery, a website dedicated to helping food and beverage executives optimize their off-premise businesses and succeed in the digital economy.
Carl has extensive global experience implementing product strategies, change, and innovation in retail, virtual restaurant, and digital food-related environments. Previously, he was Head of Retail at BP and the Vice President of Operations at Kitchen United.
Meredith spent two decades as a consultant for corporate strategy and restaurant development. She helped build over 1000 restaurants as Chief Development Officer at Yum! Brands/Taco Bell and served as the Chief Operating Officer at Kitchen United. Now, Meredith is at the forefront of the profound change in America’s food consumption patterns.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- Carl Orsbourn and Meredith Sandland explain how their collaboration led to their groundbreaking book Delivering the Digital Restaurant
- How Carl’s time with BP impacted his views on the food industry
- Meredith’s experiences at Yum! Brands/Taco Bell and how that pointed her in the direction of food innovation
- Insights Carl and Meredith gained while speaking with restaurant owners for the book
- What does a digital restaurant look like?
- How the pandemic has accelerated the shift toward digital restaurants
- Why some restaurant owners are hesitant to adopt digital practices for their businesses
- What is the difference between a ghost kitchen and a virtual brand?
- The top takeaways from Delivering the Digital Restaurant
- How Learn.Delivery is providing a platform for restaurant owners to chat with industry experts
In This Episode
The global pandemic crammed about 10 years of digital transformation into 18 months. What does this mean for the restaurant industry?
According to Meredith Sandland and Carl Orsbourn’s research, it means that you now have to meet the consumer where they’re at. Restaurant owners need to be prepared to serve customers wherever, whenever, and however they want to be served. This means adopting DoorDash, UberEats, or a first-party ordering platform. It also means rethinking your menu, packaging, and process for adding extra additions like beverages. So, how can you start adopting these changes today?
In this episode of the SpotOn Series, Chad Franzen is joined by Meredith Sandland and Carl Orsbourn, Co-authors of Delivering the Digital Restaurant, to discuss how to upgrade your digital restaurant strategy. They talk about the industry experiences that influenced their innovative ideas, why ghost kitchens and virtual brands are the way of the future, and the key takeaways from their new book.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Meredith Sandland on LinkedIn
- Carl Orsbourn on LinkedIn
- Delivering the Digital Restaurant: Your Roadmap to the Future of Food by Meredith Sandland and Carl Orsbourn
- Ronnie Forbes on LinkedIn
- Melissa Lora on LinkedIn
- Chad Franzen on LinkedIn
Sponsor for this episode
Today’s episode is brought to you by SpotOn. SpotOn has transformed the merchant service industry by providing the tools and support your business deserves at a price that puts money back into your pocket!
SpotOn’s team wants to empower all of their merchants by merging payment processing with simple customer engagement tools, all in one easy-to-use platform. As a business owner, you are focused on managing your daily operations and engaging your customers. You don’t have the time, energy, or excess funds to devote to multiple complicated platforms! That’s why SpotOn is focused on helping you build long-lasting customer loyalty while saving you time and money through our all in one system.
Whether you are a merchant or a consumer, SpotOn wants to be more than an average payment processor. SpotOn aims to exceed your expectations by valuing simplicity, maintaining flexibility, and celebrating innovative collaboration. Let SpotOn help you do business the right way.
Partner with SpotOn today! Visit spoton.com today to schedule your free demo or to view SpotOn’s products. You can also call SpotOn at 877.814.4102 at any time. Let SpotOn help you make the difference with your business!
At Rise25, we’re committed to helping you connect with your Dream 100 referral partners, clients, and strategic partners through our done-for-you podcast solution.
We’re a professional podcast production agency that makes creating a podcast effortless. Since 2009, our proven system has helped thousands of B2B businesses build strong relationships with referral partners, clients, and audiences without doing the hard work.
What do you need to start a podcast?
When you use our proven system, all you need is an idea and a voice. We handle the strategy, production, and distribution – you just need to show up and talk.
The Rise25 podcasting solution is designed to help you build a profitable podcast. This requires a specific strategy, and we’ve got that down pat. We focus on making sure you have a direct path to ROI, which is the most important component. Plus, our podcast production company takes any heavy lifting of production and distribution off your plate.
We make distribution easy.
We’ll distribute each episode across more than 11 unique channels, including iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. We’ll also create copy for each episode and promote your show across social media.
Co-founders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90x, Atari, Einstein Bagels, Mattel, Rx Bars, YPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk, and many more.
The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.
Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.
Are you considering launching a podcast to acquire partnerships, clients, and referrals? Would you like to work with a podcast agency that wants you to win?
Contact us now at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a call at rise25.com/bookcall.
Rise25 Co-founders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.
Welcome to the Top Business Leaders Show. Powered by Rise25 Media. We featured top founders, executives and business leaders from all over the world.
Chad Franzen 0:20
Chad Franzen here co host for this show where we feature top restaurant tours, investors and business leaders. This is part of our SpotOn series. SpotOn has the best in class payment platform for retail and they have a flagship solution called spot on restaurant where they combine marketing software and payments all in one. They have served everyone from larger chains like Dairy Queen and subway to small mom and pop restaurants. To learn more, go to SpotOn.com This episode is brought to you by Rise25 We help b2b businesses to get ROI clients referrals and strategic partnerships through done for you podcast. If you have a b2b business and want to build great relationships with clients referral partners and thought leaders in your space. There’s no better way to do it than through podcasts and content marketing. To learn more go to rise25media.com or email us at email@example.com. Carl Orsbourn and Meredith Sandland are the co-authors of the book Delivering the Digital Restaurant: Your Roadmap to the Future of Food. They’re also the Co-founders of Learn.Delivery a website dedicated to the disruption of food retail, helping restaurants succeed in the digital economy. Carl has extensive global experience implementing product strategies change and innovation in retail virtual restaurant and digital food related environments. As head of retail at BP. His expertise and leading innovation delivering results and developing highly effective teams helped him transform AM PM’S fresh food offerings to achieve record growth. As Vice President of Operations at Kitchen United. He worked with Restaurant Brands to reinvent an operating system to capitalize on the rapidly changing face of food delivery. Meredith Sandland spent two decades in consulting corporate strategy and restaurant development. After building more than 1000 restaurants as Chief Development Officer at Yum! Brands/Taco Bell, she observed that the on demand economy was starting to affect restaurants Meredith joined ghost kitchen startup kitchen united as employee number four to create their business model raise initial capital and serve as the public face of Google Ventures of the Google Ventures back disrupter. Meredith is at the forefront of the profound change in America’s food consumption patterns, which will affect not just what we do, but how our neighborhoods look how we design our homes and where our food comes from. She uses her background in investing new concept creation, new product launches and retail rollout to scale a massive new infrastructure. Carl and Meredith thanks so much for joining me today. How are you guys?
Meredith Sandland 2:47
Thanks for having us. Here.
Carl Orsbourn 2:50
Thanks for having this chat. It’s great to get to talk to you today.
Chad Franzen 2:52
Yes, it’s great to be able to talk to you guys. So you both left, you know, kind of big jobs to collaborate on this book. Meredith, tell me kind of what got the ball rolling? How did you come together with Carl to collaborate on Delivering the Digital Restaurant?
Meredith Sandland 3:07
Yeah, you know, I think a lot of people wonder if I left my big corporate and went somewhere else. Somewhere smaller may man thing, what would it be like? And Carl and I have been fortunate enough to go on that adventure together. Initially, when we left giant companies in my case, Yom which is the world’s largest restaurant company. And And Carl’s case, BP. We came together first at Kitchen United, which at the time was a small startup had very few locations. And it just taken investment from Google Ventures. And that was a really big change in and of itself to go from a place where, you know, the systems and processes are already in place, the business model is known. It’s just a question of, you know, how do you grow it to a place where everything is unknown, and it’s very small, and you’re trying to create that not only the business model with the processes that will deliver on that business model. So that’s where we first came together, and then subsequently decided to write this book. Because as we were in the United meeting with every major restaurant company in America, a lot of independence, it became clear that everyone just needed to take a breath and think about the big change that was happening in the industry.
Chad Franzen 4:31
Carl, can you tell me a little bit, a little bit about your kind of journey toward writing this book and collaborating with Marilyn Meredith?
Carl Orsbourn 4:38
Yeah, well, first of all, it’s been a real honor to work with Meredith for these last few years, both the kitchen united and through the book. It’s been a fun journey and in America says it right the challenge facing restaurants even before the pandemic, Chad has been incredibly significant. There’s a huge amount of opportunity out there for restaurants, but simply their entire business model, the way in which they They speak and engage with their consumers, the way in which food is just changed in front of our very eyes is happening just incredibly quickly. And I think for that reason we were seeing all of these things come together in a ghost kitchen operation that was affecting both national brands and the independents. And I think for for us, when we were I think we were driving back from Pasadena one day, we said, My Goodness It read, someone really should write a book about this. And it’s only when we left kitchen United that we thought, you know, maybe this is actually something that the industry needs. And so we went about reaching out to our kind of vast network in the industry, speaking to some of the very best innovators, both in the world of restaurants, but also in the world of technology, to try and shape a story that helps restaurant sirs, understand why this is happening. And also then understand this kind of pathway to what we call digital maturity. And we hope we hope the book does exactly that. We hope it helps people accelerate they’re kind of pathway along and ultimately support the end consumer enjoy food wherever they want it. And whenever they want it, not just in the restaurants that we know and love,
Chad Franzen 6:06
during your experience at BP was there are there any kind of experiences that particularly impacted you that kind of set you on the pathway toward writing it, you know, kind of specific stories?
Carl Orsbourn 6:17
Absolutely. Well, I’m a Brit, as you can tell Chad, and the the sandwich is something that we hold very important in our lives. Over in England, there’s a variety of sandwiches for everything. And when I came over to the US, I’ve been here for a couple of occasions. But I was always shocked by the quality of a pre packaged sandwich in the back of a gas station and the 20 to 25 day shelf life that some of them might have had, which was shocking to me, you know, these things are gas packed with who knows what. And so one of the things which I was really thrilled to be able to support the NPM brand with was revolutionising the way in which fresh food was reaching their customers. But it also shocked me, just the level of infrastructure all the way through the system that needed to move faster with the times, and that includes the commissaries includes the logistics and supply chain. And of course, the franchisees that we’re working with in AMPM. And of course, my own organization, trying to help them understand exactly what was needed to move forward. And I think that really just demonstrated to me that, unlike many other industries, the US when it comes to food, at times, is actually behind many other markets. In fact, we include a chapter in our book called the maturity of markets where we feature India, China and the UK, and talk about the way in which food delivery in those markets is actually far more mature, and more advanced. And in many ways, the consumer expectations are advanced. And so when we touch on the fact that actually consumers now have a greater need for fresher food, better food, food, whenever they want it, all of those things come together. And it’s affecting every kind of vertical where food is served, whether it be through restaurants, or in my case, through C stores. Merredin,
Meredith Sandland 8:01
a friend of a friend of ours introduced us and Carl told me that story the first day that we met, and he said it’s an abomination to the word sandwich. And that was how I knew this guy gets it this guy gets. And we’ve been friends ever since.
Chad Franzen 8:17
Perfect. You were at yum brands, not exactly a Taco Bell, not exactly a mom and pop shop, what experiences that you have, you know, kind of specifically maybe a story or two that pointed you in this direction? Yeah,
Meredith Sandland 8:30
you know, I was responsible for new unit development was growing the brand. One was, you know, fast food is often co located near malls. And at the time remember, mall traffic was declining, malls were closing. And I thought it’s really strange. We keep building restaurants next to something that no one’s going to anymore. And those restaurants are all doing really well. And those malls are getting redeveloped and other things and everything’s fine. But it planted a seed in my mind of, you know, just the degree of change in consumer behavior that’s occurring. The second thing that happened was, we were as a brand Taco Bell trying to enter urban environments, which we had not done before, in my head of Architecture at the time, and I looked at each other and we said, you know, why are we trying to build a restaurant and the world’s most expensive real estate in Manhattan when 40% of the sales were going out the door delivery, we should just go into commissary and deliver tacos out the door delivery that would make a lot more sense. But of course at the time, Kitchen United didn’t exist, none of the major kitchen brands existed. And so, you know, we just carried on trying to figure out how to make an urban footprint and when I saw Kitchen United, I realized that I as the customer at Taco Bell. This was exactly what I was looking for. And that all I think created the foundation for me being you know, willing to take a risk to go robbing company to a startup, but also created the foundation once getting into Kitchen United of seeing all of these different changes coming together, you know, it’s not just the infrastructure piece. It’s also the brands, it’s also the consumer, and how they’re changing and what they eat so many things coming together at once to create this explosion and change that, honestly, was starting even before the pandemic, shut down all the restaurants in the US last year.
Chad Franzen 10:26
Carl, you, you told me that you guys spoke to numerous people, maybe restaurant owners and other people in the industry? What kind of things did they tell you know, you, you obviously, you both obviously, bring considerable expertise into the book, what did you learn from them, maybe a few highlights?
Carl Orsbourn 10:45
Oh, my goodness, we learned a lot. First of all, it’s amazing to be around and speak to as many visionaries as the folks that we spoke to, and many of them are featured in the book. I think the the exciting thing, when you speak to those folks that have that kind of insight as to where the world is going, is just this kind of level of faith that actually everything’s gonna be okay. When you speak to those that are perhaps not as advanced in their kind of understanding of what those changes are. And of course, we spoke to many restauranteurs that fit into that category, too. You see the fear, quite honestly, you see the fear in their minds, because not only is their business being threatened by a pandemic, they’re also being overwrought, it’s, it’s very overwhelming for these guys to be able to see just the level of change that’s been placed upon their business. Now, think of your favorite restaurants or chat with, you know, the best restaurant owner operator that you know, and, and their mindset as to why they got into that business. They probably got into that business because they love food. They love people, and they love hospitality. And then there’s these bunch of technologists that are coming around with some new fancy, you know, tool or some kind to say no, now we can make this easier for you and your customers wants it straight away, it gets your your back up a little bit, right. And I think that sentiment is something that kind of proliferates all the way through many of the restaurant community, not least, of course, because the the actual opportunities that have been brought their way, are also perhaps not as profitable as the kind of channels that they used to. And that is one of the big tensions in the industry right now, that kind of third party to first party conversion and the ways in which restaurants can actually look upon delivery, and takeout. And actually a force for good and actually being a business channel worth promoting. And I think there’s this kind of mixture between that sentiment, and the innovators in the technology space that are actually really bringing some very useful tools and features forward. And trying to help restaurant owners understand what to actually invest in what to focus on when, and how to actually build a pathway to be able to get to a place where all of this makes sense, not just for the customer and the guest, but also for the restaurant owner operator too.
Chad Franzen 12:51
So the, you know, retail space has been impacted by the digital revolution for the past couple decades, maybe restaurants just the past few years, especially with COVID have started to really be impacted impacted by it. Meredith, what does a digital restaurant look like?
Meredith Sandland 13:08
Oh, that’s a great question. You know, I think that the book focuses very heavily on the consumer, and how the consumer is changing, and then how digitalization supports a restaurant in meeting the consumer where they’re at, now that they’re quite different from how they used to be. And so the primary thing is really shifting perspective to how do you serve your consumer, wherever, whenever, however, they might want to be served. And that ends up touching everything, both in terms of the obvious, you know, something like being on DoorDash, or UberEATS, having a first party ordering platform, but even the less obvious where you need to rethink how your menu is formulated, because consumers might want to use you at different times than they did before. So that’s things like family, family meals, which became very prevalent during the pandemic, but which are an important part of driving check and profitability in an online ordering environment. And things like figuring out how you get beverage additions, on orders that are going out the door delivery, typically, delivery orders are less likely to have beverages attached to them that beverages are the most profitable things in most restaurants. So it requires thinking through, you know, what is exactly that offering and how do I present it to the consumer in a way that’s compelling, so that they’re going to want to take it up. And a lot of it has to do with consumer in that sense all the way through to you know, virtual brands and loyalty programs and how you talk with the consumer on the back end and shift the restaurant economics from a unit level economic to a customer acquisition versus lifetime value economics kind of equation but Having said all of that, there’s also a lot of digitization that can take place on the back end that the consumer never even sees. And I think that that, in many ways is equally important because it supports all of the digital efforts that are happening with the consumer. The other thing we often talk about is that employees are also consumers. And so you can’t expect them to go around in their other life and interact with retailers digitally and interact with restaurants digitally, and then come to work and get their schedule on a piece of paper and get their check every two weeks. It just doesn’t make sense, right? Because they’re having this very digitized experience everywhere else they go. So the best digital restaurants are also applying these skills on the backend. So whether it be how they recruit, how they train, how they retain how they pay their employees have a schedule their employees, they’re working all of these digital tools into the employee experience. Also,
Chad Franzen 15:56
Carl in what ways has COVID accelerated the process toward the digital restaurant?
Carl Orsbourn 16:04
Cool, it could be a question which was it has it not? The reality is that every restaurant that wasn’t in some way, shape, or form digitized before the pandemic has had to bring in some component of it over the course of the last year to be able to survive. You know, the the latest numbers suggested that 90,000 restaurants last September chain, closed their doors for good. And I suspect that number will probably increase further this year when the next set of data comes out. But those that had a level of readiness in terms of being able to offer a customer an opportunity to buy their food, without coming into the restaurant, those are the ones that typically have been given the infrastructure to be able to move forward, that the ones that have probably been able to take that level further, are those that have a first party ordering interface. And what I mean by that is a customer that doesn’t have to go on to DoorDash, or UberEATS, or Postmates, to be able to buy their food, but has been able to go on to the name of the restaurants website or to be able to download their app and be able to order direct from them. Now those platforms are certainly better for the restaurant financially. But they also give the consumer and the restaurant a better chance of being able to have what we call a digital dialogue and opportunity for the restaurant and the consumer to be able to speak in a way to each other, that allows the consumer to feel like the restaurant really gets them. And what do I mean by that? Well, it means when you’re being sent a coupon or a particular promotion, you’re being targeted in the right kind of way. So if you’re a vegetarian, for example, I’m not going to tell you about the steak special tonight, right, I’m going to tell you about the the the next greatest limited time offer salad that’s coming out next week, and why they should try it. That type of thing is something which digitization has enabled restaurants to be able to do, that would be incredibly difficult to be able to train consistently across your entire employee workforce in a dining setting. And so those restaurants in the last year that had been able to build those capabilities into their kind of arsenal of tools, if you will, I think of those that have been able to certainly Thrive a little bit more. Now that said, there are there are things around those that have had better outdoor dining capacity, those for sure are going to be a factor, which I think will help those that actually have demonstrated great safety practices in demonstrating the ways in which that staff consider the cleanliness of the restaurant, the way in which they tell their customers how often they’re actually cleaning the tables and the restrooms and things. All these are factors that will permeate Well, way beyond the pandemic ongoing now. So I think it’s having that kind of consciousness of the way in which the consumer feels about food, but also being able to have that service to be able to deliver them food wherever they actually are, and those that have been able to demonstrate that capability. They’re the ones that are still around today and unlikely the ones that will continue to thrive in the future.
Chad Franzen 18:56
There’s a taco restaurant near me that started the family, the family meal, kind of when COVID hit because it was just easier for them to crank those things out. They were gonna they were planning on stopping it. You know, once restaurants reopened and they just kept it because it was so wildly successful.
Carl Orsbourn 19:12
There was a seafood restaurant near near to us here that turned itself into a fishmonger. Brilliant. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, Lions out the door. They didn’t serve any customers inside but they became a fresh because they were supporting their supply chain. Because of course you think about the supply chain effect from the restaurants being shut down. King seafood, they did a fantastic job of being able to just turn themselves into something which kept their brand, at least in the consumers front of mind while that was lock down was enforced.
Chad Franzen 19:37
Meredith Have you spoken to any restaurant owners, managers, people who kind of just say, I can’t wait until things get back to the way they were before COVID? If so, it’s not a smart attitude to have. I’m guessing I know your answer.
Meredith Sandland 19:51
Um, yes, I have. And in particular, when I was at kitchen United I mean, where I was talking to restaurants every single day and I had a lot of them say to me things like, well, this is a fad. And the VCs are subsidizing all of this. And when the venture capital money dries up, it’s all gonna go away. And that came up very often, of course, without the understanding that venture capitalists invest in things not because they want to subject an industry to massive disruption and change it, but because they know the consumer wants the change. And if they put the right money behind the right idea, that idea is going to meet up with where the consumer is, right. So regardless of whether or not venture capitalists are putting money into something, you got to figure out how to serve the consumer what they want today. And then even after, you know, during the pandemic, I had some pretty major chains, say to me, yeah, but when the pandemic is over, all go back to normal. And I think that, first of all that, that fails to recognize that all of this started before the pandemic started. And that second, the pandemic absolutely accelerated the pace of change. Your monitor recently put out a revised forecast for the penetration of digital delivery into the restaurant industry and took the forecast up quite substantially because of the impact of the pandemic. And I think Bill Gates has said that the pandemic accelerated digital adoption in all areas, 10 years with a digital adoption, he said, was crammed into about 18 months, and I really believe it. And the truth is, the longer that the uncertainty around the pandemic goes on, you know, when we have little spikes and things like that, the more that these behaviors become ingrained in how we all behave. So while we might have said, Oh, wow, there’s a big uptake in digital delivery, that we weren’t really expecting, for example, someone like my parents using Instacart. And where that might have been a momentary blip. If this had lasted two weeks, if it lasts two years, that’s going to become something that they just do, and a regular part of their lives. And I think that’s true. All across all forms of E commerce, but in particular, in restaurants, where we were at the very front end of adoption, and the pandemic really accelerated quite a bit.
Chad Franzen 22:17
Carl, you guys both worked at Kitchen United, kind of which is referred to as a ghost kitchen startup. Can you inform us just a little bit about what a ghost kitchen is? And how prevalent? Do you see those becoming?
Carl Orsbourn 22:32
Sure, well, that there are lots of different types of ghost kitchens out there, Chad, Kitchen United was one of the first kind of ghost kitchens out there. And for all intents and purposes, think of a restaurant without the front of house, in the first instance, its its food is prepared for the purpose of it being eaten off premise. Yeah. But there are different types of ghost kitchens. Now Kitchen United would have a number of these different kitchens in its in its particular building. So in some of the locations, there would be 15 to 20 different restaurants operating out of that one particular location. But the beauty is, is that the drivers can come to that one location and have an interface that allows them to be able to receive the food, and to be able to actually then take that food to wherever the consumers are. But of course, the beauty also of that kind of setup is that you can have multiple different Restaurant Brands, all working from that kind of same place. And therefore imagine tonight, Chad, you want to eat pizza, your your partner perhaps wants to eat sushi, and the kids want McDonald’s, well, if pizza, sushi, and McDonald’s are all being served out of that kitchen United location, then all of you can have exactly what you want for dinner tonight, and only have to pay one delivery fee. So that that’s one type of ghost kitchen model. There are several, I think the the jury is still out as to which model will proliferate mainly across the US. But again, as you know, we touched on earlier, the US is still very early on in the stage of ghost kitchens, we spoke to the CEO of swiggy in India, and he told us there are 5000 Ghost kitchens in their company alone with swiggy. Over in India. So it’s a proven means to be able to support the way in which off premise food is happening. I think it’s going to be only a matter of time where it’s going to move from what is probably in the hundreds right now into the 1000s. And I’ll give you this other stat chat that Meredith and I often like to talk about, before the pandemic, the the US was second only to Japan in restaurants per capita. And that means in many ways, it was already oversaturated as an industry, there was already a huge amount of food being provided to consumers around the country. And so in that sense, you could argue that with a number of the closures have actually happened. Is there really a need to build another kitchen in the US? Or is it a case of some of these kitchens that perhaps once were restaurants being converted into ghost kitchens going forward? So once a speculator over but I think that’s gonna be an interesting one as we look forward in the months and years ahead.
Chad Franzen 24:51
There’s also a concept called virtual brands. What are those Meredith?
Meredith Sandland 24:55
Yeah, so ghost kitchen versus virtual brands. So confusing. So I would Think of ghost kitchens as the hardware and virtual brands as the software. So if it goes to kitchen and creates the infrastructure that’s completely customized for the purpose of off premise consumption, like Carl said, then a virtual brand might write on top of a ghost kitchen, it might be inside of what we would call a post Kip kitchen, which would be an existing restaurant. And that brand would be something that is completely digitally native, so much like we see in the apparel and the CPG space for something like Warby Parker or bonobos, or the Honest Company. It’s something that is born in a digital environment, where it completely understands itself and its relationship with the consumer in a digital fashion. And then it’s fulfilled out of a kitchen, where there may not ever be a brick and mortar presence, or perhaps someday they have, you know, a few flagship brick and mortar brand experiences, like bonobos and Warby Parker have done. But by and large, the vast majority of consumers interact with an order from the brand online. And what I think is super exciting about virtual brands is that they are capital light, and they can expand very, very rapidly. So in the historic restaurant industry, if you had an awesome new concept, even if it was amazing, and consumers loved it. Your ability to roll out and add locations was restricted by real estate availability, it was restricted by capex considerations, it was restricted by your ability to get operations up and running multiple different locations. Well, now with a virtual brand, you could potentially roll it out overnight on top of existing kitchens, within ghost kitchens and not have any of those considerations. What’s super exciting about that is that the consumer is changing. What they want to eat is changing. And for many of the big brands, real estate historically has acted as the remote, right, they have all the best locations, it’s really, really hard for a new brand to go from zero to 10,000 overnight. And so they’re able to maintain their sales in large part just because they’re super convenient, right. And as real estate is taken away as a moat that allows these brands potentially, if they get it right with the consumer to just explode, and really change the industry. So it’s a very exciting time. It’s a very different time. And I think everything that we saw in apparel and CPG over the last 10 years, we’re now about to see in restaurants.
Chad Franzen 27:44
So Carl, you you guys both have considerable experience in this industry decade’s worth of it. You also spoke with people with expertise in the industry. What can restaurant just boil it down? What advice can restaurant owners take from your book? Why should they go get it so they can survive moving forward?
Carl Orsbourn 28:05
Well, I think there are a number of things they’ll be able to take from the book, the first thing is, if they don’t yet understand why this is happening, the the first part of the book will certainly help them with with that. It will also talk about what I call the elephant in the room and the profitability challenges and the fact that’s understanding the way in which these things merged together, I think he’s going to help them see that there is a future for them investing in this particular channel, but also to talk about some of the tactics that restaurants that do see this potential are actually putting into place. I think the the main piece of it, though, quite honestly, Chad, is that those that read this book, will get an appreciation of the amount of change the amounts of success that some are finding, but also give them hope, give them hope that actually in many ways, while it feels like a really tough place to be right now in this industry, there’s an incredible amount of exciting opportunity ahead. And it’s not yet done. It’s not yet done. The final chapter of the book talks about the changes yet to really surface in the industry. And I hope if there’s nothing else that someone gets from reading this book, they have an ability to change the mindset so that they build a business infrastructure, that gives them the agility to adjust and move to these changes. Because if they can do that, then there’ll be in a great place to be able to take advantage of things like what we call personalization, 3.0 automation, and robotics that are just a few short years away from being a mainstream kind of activity in the industry.
Chad Franzen 29:34
Meredith in addition to the book, you and Carl have collaborated on a website called Learn.Delivery. Can you tell me where in in its development process it is and kind of what it’s going to be?
Meredith Sandland 29:47
Yeah, absolutely. So um, you know, what happens when you write a book is that everyone wants to talk to you, which is an awesome problem to have. So a lot of it is just acting as a landing point for that interest. For folks who would like to engage with, actually Carl and I, specifically on this change, but over time, I think you’ll see a host of different experts on that platform. And our goal is to make it as easily accessible to restaurants as possible so that all this information can come to them in a video format that they can listen to and consume very easily. And so that they can access really great future thinking, but in a much more digitized and therefore cost effective form.
Chad Franzen 30:34
Okay, sounds good. Couple of last question. For both of you. We’re big fans of gratitude around here. We like to give people the chance to publicly acknowledge people in the industry who have been particularly impactful in their journey. So I want to give both of you a chance to do that. Carl, why don’t you go first?
Carl Orsbourn 30:52
Yeah, absolutely. The the thing for me would be a gentleman by the name of Ronnie Forts, who is a Scottish retired ex BP. And Ron gave me I was 25, Chad. And he said to me, once, he said, Well, Carl, you need to get some operational experience. If you want to want to run a retail business, a food orientated business in the future, you really want to get to the ground roots level and roll your sleeves up and understand what that’s like. He said, Well, Carl, I want you to do that. But the UK right now isn’t the best place to do it. Do want to go to Poland, and Krakow in Poland or San Diego in California. And when you’re part of a large company like that, to be able to give us give us such a great opportunity at such a young age to be able to go and get that experience for life reasons as well as kind of professional and career reasons. It was Ronnie with who’s the guy that made that happen for me. So a big shout out for Ronnie.
Chad Franzen 31:40
What about you, Meredith?
Meredith Sandland 31:41
Well, for me, I have actually dedicated the book to Melissa Lora, who hired me at Taco Bell. And he taught me so many things about the business of restaurants. I think Prior to working at Taco Bell, I really thought about restaurants as a place that I love to go, I love to eat, I love the food. But under her guidance really learned about the business of it as well. She was the CFO at the time at Taco Bell. So huge, huge thank you to her for teaching me that. And I’m also kind of laughing because I’m noting that both of these people that Carl and I just think also in a roundabout way led us to our spouses. So not only changed our life in terms of what we learned from them, and what what we subsequently went on to do, but also changed our lives in terms of who we spend our time with.
Chad Franzen 32:36
Very, very impactful. Thanks so much for sharing both of those. Carl, where can people find out more about your book and your website?
Carl Orsbourn 32:43
Yeah, absolutely. The the website is deliveringthedigitalrestaurant.com. We’d like to invite your listeners to go to that website. If they use the code Rise25 They’re going to be able to save a 25% discount on the book. So do that the books are flying off the shelves, even though Chad is not yet released on Amazon. It’s coming out on Amazon, October 12. So depending on when this episode is aired, people will be able to go to Amazon and to be able to buy it there. They can get it through a website deliveringthedigitalrestaurant.com. But if you’re more of an audiobook fan, I’ve just finished recording the audio book. So if you want to continue hearing from me, then the audio book might be for you today.
Chad Franzen 33:19
Yeah, right now. Go ahead. Thankfully,
Meredith Sandland 33:22
it’s in Carl’s voice. So listen,
Chad Franzen 33:27
say the website again, where they can go get the book
Carl Orsbourn 33:29
Chad Franzen 33:33
Okay, hey, Carl, Meredith, it was great speaking with you, and it was very informative. I really appreciate your time today. Thanks so much for joining me.
Meredith Sandland 33:41
Thank you for having
Chad Franzen 33:43
So long everybody.
Thanks for listening to the Top Business Leaders Show powered by Rise25. Visit rise25.com to check out more episodes of the show and to learn more about how you can start your own podcast