As A host of the television show Bar Rescue, Jon Taffer shows up to fix other people’s restaurants. Now he’s also looking at the casual-dining sector more broadly, and he sees signs of trouble: “They’re dinosaurs,” he says of many brands that have been around for decades, “and I think they’re facing extinction. All the Uber Eats in the world can’t bail them out.” His diagnosis: rising labor costs, plummeting meal prices, and an economy in flux. That’s why starting this year, Taffer plans to spend a lot of time in restaurants of his own. He’s launching a new franchise restaurant concept called Taffer’s Tavern, which is designed for efficiency—with minimally staffed, robotic kitchens cooking vacuum-sealed food, and data-driven decisions everywhere. The first unit is expected to open in Atlanta in April this year. There are agreements to sell another 50 by then as well, and a television tie-in is in the works. “This is my baby,” he says. “Not only can I build immense value with this, but it could be a heck of a business model.”
This past fall, as he was negotiating the TV deal and developing his first test kitchen, Taffer spoke to Entrepreneur about the franchise industry, how he developed his concept, and why he believes all restaurateurs need to become more efficient.
You’re experienced in the hospitality space, but this is your first step into franchising. Why do it?
I found the casual-dining sector to be incredibly frustrating. I look at these companies doing all-you-can-eat appetizers, two-for-one entrées, $10 all-you-can-eat meals. They’re fighting for customers while, at the same time, labor pools are shrinking. We’re approaching $15 minimum wages—so labor costs are through the roof, and we’re discounting food. The numbers don’t work. It’s going to implode. I said to myself, Somebody’s gotta create a franchise model that works. How do I solve that with robotic cooking, and what kind of approach to cuisine production can I take that assures quality and consistency, and attacks the labor issue? So I’ve been working on test kitchens with sous vide cooking.
Sous vide—that’s vacuum-sealing food in a bag and cooking it in water, right?
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Don't Compete. Differentiate!
Want to scale your business? Stop worrying about the competition, and focus on these three areas instead.
100 Women Of Impact – Eva Longoria
Eva Longoria became famous as an actress, but her real mission was to be the boss—and then give opportunities to women who might never otherwise get them.
Where Change Leads You
The process can be painful, but the goal is profound: Find something new that you’d never want to lose.
The Big Are Getting Bigger
Major acquisitions. Consolidations. Conglomerates. What’s going on in franchising? The answer says a lot about where the industry is heading—and what growth means going forward.
Innovation Comes from Intrapreneurs
Employees say they’re unhappy. Companies are struggling to navigate massive change. The solution to both? It’s creating a culture of intrapreneurship.
Lessons That Are Worth Billions
How did Michael Dell build one of the most valuable technology companies in the world? By being willing to try, fail, and learn.
Mapping the Route to Success
The tourism industry is ready for a comeback, and travel agents are proving their worth like never before.
What Did You Cut?
To stay agile, business owners must often rethink what they truly need. We asked six entrepreneurs: What expenses have you realized your company is better off without?
Facing a Hard Choice? Get Out of Your Head
When we look at a decision through someone else’s eyes, change becomes a lot easier to make.
Making the First Sale
My sales career was almost cut short by my parents.