Known for bold statements, a big personality, and extensive knowledge of the restaurant industry, Jon Taffer isn’t one to hold back his opinion. His insightful takes on how to run a restaurant or bar are often displayed on Paramount Network’s “Bar Rescue.” Now, Taffer is opening a new concept, which is his response to the current state of casual dining in America.
In a recent chat with FSR Digital Content Editor Rachel Taylor, he discussed why the segment is in hot waters and what he’s doing to help fix it.
"The days of a hamburger on a round plate are just over. We need to understand as an industry that we need to excite people again."
"The future of culinary is not chefs, It's technology. We need to understand that. That's what Taffer’s Tavern is embracing. We're embracing the technologies that will provide consistency, the food cooking styles that provide consistency and sanitation standards that are inherent in the way we're doing it."
"I’ve been doing this for a long, long time, and I've sensed almost out of frustration the casual dining sector is a bit lost. It’s lost an identity. It's very lost with regard to economic structure in today's environment, when we're looking at $15 minimum wages, which can escalate in the kitchen. And we're looking at, you know, the limited availability of labor today. In my view, the days of the kitchen with six or eight guys on the line are over. That's just not something that is economically feasible or even from a recruiting standpoint practical today."
"I'm not a trend guy, meaning trends to me can be the enemy. Every trend that you'll ever identify ends. But the oldest restaurant in any city is the steakhouse, the seafood house, the most non-trendy environments."
"I look at our business very differently. To me, food and beverage is the vehicle, not the product. The product is a reaction."
"Many people that ran casual dining restaurants knew how to run them when sales were growing, but they do not know how to run them when sales are declining. It's a whole different style of operating. What happened is sales trends changed, but the executives didn't. In many cases those executives, they know how to ride the wave, but in many cases they don't know how to make the waves."
"Every presentation is instagram worthy. We are working incredibly hard on presentation [at Taffer’s Tavern]. So every cocktail presentation, the glass vessel, the height, the colors the combination of garnish colors is all designed to create reactions.
I own the term ‘reaction management,’ which is the logic that I don't sell food for drinks. I sell reactions. I achieve it through food and drinks."