2022 March Cape Plymouth Business Front
2022 March Cape Plymouth Business Page 02

Time To Dine

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) released its 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report and here are the takeaways:

  • Consumers are making a comeback
  • Outdoor dining dominates and meal subscription services surge
  • Strong tech is a game-changer
  • Delivery is here to stay
  • Staffing and food costs are still throttling restaurants

With all this in mind, this month’s cover story examines two restaurateurs who are achieving success in this post-pandemic time: Two owners who are opening a second restaurant this year and another who opened before the pandemic and thrived.

Don’t miss our popular Toolbox articles, focusing on tips to know when hiring your relatives and the smart way to craft a business
plan; marketing tips from SCORE and a couple of great reads about two enterprising business owners (interior organizer and a pet treats shop.)

Thanks for your continuing support!

Dale and Carol to Our Readers - Masthead

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Christie RobshamMeet Christie Robsham

Flourish Organizing Company
Plymouth: 508-404-0103
christie@flourishorganizingcompany.com
www.flourishorganizingcompany.com

What led you to start your own company?
After graduating from Bridgewater State University with a social work degree in 2017, I pursued my social work license and began the job search. However, when a job opportunity presented itself, I felt disappointed. I discovered a celebrity home organizing company through social media and immediately fell in love with their work. I couldn’t believe home organizing was a possible career path; although I had never considered the entrepreneurial route, I immediately knew I wanted to take it. I was determined to learn all there was to know about organizing. I read books, listened to podcasts, took online courses, and practiced organizing with family and friends. In 2019, I launched Flourish Organizing Company and have loved every minute of it since!

What do you do for clients?
My mission is to provide clients with the beauty and functionality of an organized home without adding anything to their to-do list. I offer an all-inclusive service that includes sorting, editing, and measuring their space; researching and purchasing products, designing solutions that accommodate your space, lifestyle and routine; creating custom labels, and coordinating with other service providers to fulfill any project needs. We work with young professionals, busy families, downsizing seniors, and those tackling home renovations and moves.

What are some organization tips for employees who work from home and set up an office in limited space?
1. Less is more! Especially when you are limited on space. Declutter your office supplies and determine what you actually use, what you need to keep, and purge the rest.
2. Do you wake up and make your bed each morning? If you answered yes, consider applying the same concept to your workspace. At the end of each day, tidy your desk and give everything a home. It’s much more inviting and motivating to wake up to a clutter-free work space each day.
3. Create a system to avoid the build-up of paper clutter. Consider using a filing cabinet, stackable letter trays, or magazine holders; find a system that works best for you and sort your papers as soon as they come in.

Do you have an unusual occupation or business? Our readers would love to hear about it. Email carol@capeplymouthbusiness.com if you would like to be considered for this monthly feature.

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COVER STORY

Fearless Foodies Cover

The Knack Builds On Success, Lessons Learned

By Bill O’Neill

When brothers Van and Michael Haidas wanted to open a highend fast-food restaurant in Hyannis, they already had the recipe for success. The January opening of the Knack on Route 132 was the result of lessons learned since they opened the first Knack in Orleans in 2014.

“Part of the reason why we waited so long was because we wanted to really master what we were doing in Orleans,” said Van. “Opening the first Knack was certainly more of a risk. We didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t know what the concept was. We had to let it tell us.”

The brothers grew up in the restaurant business, wandered away from it and then came back.

Their grandparents opened the Kream and Kone in Dennisport in 1953, and their father and uncle started the local chain of Cooke’s seafood restaurants in the late ’70s.

“We were punching out onion rings at 7 years old.,” said Van, who is 43 and lives in Dennis. “We did whatever we could do to help the family and kind of grew up in the restaurants.”

“They gave us little things to do at first,” said Michael, who is 41 and lives in Brewster. “By the time we were 14, we were on the schedule and accountable. We learned a ton from that experience.”

Both brothers ended up in New York City after college. Michael was a corporate lawyer and then a public defender. Van was a trader on the floor of the Stock Exchange for about 10 years.

Then Van decided he wanted to make a life change.

“The Cape kind of called me back,” he said. “I told Michael, ‘I’m thinking about doing this. Would you have any interest?’ We started talking and I moved back in 2012 and started looking for some properties.”

From Provincetown to Woods Hole, six deals fell through before they found the right spot. Van was driving in Orleans with their father and passed a building near the rotary that had once been a Dairy Queen and was turned into a taco stand.

“I said, that’s an interesting spot. It’s tiny but it sits really well on the road, it’s got great visibility, and it could be something,” Van said.

“We just said to ourselves, let’s try to make the kind of restaurant on Cape Cod that we think could succeed in New York City,” said Michael.

“When we found the location, that really dictated what the format would be. Let’s update the roadside clam shack. Let’s do traditional Cape Cod food but everything made from scratch and cooked to order. Let’s make every menu item as good as we can get it and go from there.”

The Knack debuted with a soft opening for a few weeks in the fall of 2014 and had its first full season in 2015. It quickly built a devoted local following for its burgers, onion rings and shakes.

The family had sold the Cooke’s restaurants, but the brothers repurchased the Hyannis location.

“It was right after we had a full season of the Knack in Orleans under our belt,” said Michael. “We operated it for five years. We loved Cooke’s, we grew up there, but it was clear over that time that the Knack was appealing to a wide section of the Cape demographic, whereas Cooke’s had stagnated.”

They decided to gut the 42-year-old building and create a second Knack.

“We had enough data that we knew this should be successful,” said Van. “This is a much larger scale than what we do in Orleans, but the building also gives us what we’re missing in Orleans, which is prep space and storage. We can do prep for both places out of Hyannis. It’s going to help us grow the business.”

The Hyannis renovations were happening while they were trying to keep the first Knack running during the COVID pandemic.

“We always told ourselves we do not want to be the reason people get sick,” said Michael. “Orleans is only outdoor seating anyway but in 2020 we didn’t ever open the patio. We just stayed take-out only. Here we are two plus years later and we haven’t had an outbreak of COVID in our restaurant. We’ve been careful the whole time with that.”

The Hyannis Knack, which will be open year-round, will have seasonal outdoor seating and the indoor layout is convertible to meet any changing needs for social distancing.

The brothers have been able to maintain sufficient staffing by paying what they call “a living wage for the Cape.” Unlike many Cape restaurants, they were able to stay open seven days a week in 2021.

“From the beginning, Van and I have tried to take care of our employees before taking care of ourselves,” said Michael. “When we get good people, they tend to like working here. The relationship is good for both of us. We know how hard the work is because we do it all the time.”

Fluctuating and rising costs present another challenge. “We’ve seen our costs double on probably more than half of the products we bring in,” said Van. “Cooking oil doubled, meat doubled, lobster doubled, flour doubled. We’ve taken our time with price increases, but we’ve had to go up a little bit.”

The storage space at the Hyannis Knack allows them to stock up on supplies when prices dip. They’ve also cut costs by grinding in-house the meat they buy from a local butcher. Since the first Knack opened, the brothers have donated 10 percent of the sales of shakes and desserts to local charities. That’s amounted to over $100,000 so far.

“It’s important to help the community you’re in. The better the community does, the better you do,” said Van.

Food Service Industry Stats

  • 63% of adults say restaurants are a go-to in their lives
  • The National Restaurant Association predicts the food service industry will reach $898 billion in sales in 2022
  • Sales still sit 11% below where they were pre-pandemic
  • Seven in 10 restaurant operators say they are severely understaffed
  • Food costs, meanwhile, are higher for nine out of 10 operators
  • Six in 10 adults say they order delivery or takeout more than they did pre-pandemic
  • Nearly 80% of operators say technology has given them a competitive edge and helped increase sales, especially among younger customers
  • Outdoor dining dominates and meal subscription services surge
  • Restaurants continue to adapt by offering smaller menus, larger outdoor eating areas, and meal subscription services

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION

Jefes Stays The Course In Plymouth

By Carol K. Dumas

Michael Grant opened the Mexican restaurant Jefes: A Betta Bar & Grill, in May 2019, a year before the pandemic hit the world, but his enterprise withstood the test of lockdowns, regulations and diners’ fears and continues to thrive.

Grant said none of his 10 employees were laid off during the pandemic. How did he do it?

“We increased our takeout,” Grant says, “and we were consistent with our food quality and in keeping in touch with our customers.”

Jefes has 90 indoor seats but no outside seating.

Customer service is key to his success, he feels. “It’s a tough business and there’s a lot of stress and it’s easy to take it out on a customer.”

Located across from Cordage Park in North Plymouth, Jefes serves up “authentic Mexican” cuisine, influenced by a family friend’s recipes from a Mexico City neighborhood. Jefes’ signature dishes are its nachos, and tacos, handmade from corn flour from Mexico.

Grant had planned a career in marketing, and graduated from Bentley University, but when an opportunity in Las Vegas didn’t pan out and he’d already signed a lease to live there, he had to find a job to make ends meet. He ended up in the restaurant business, starting as a food runner and bussing tables at a restaurant on the strip and found his calling in management. After moving back to Massachusetts, he worked as the manager of the Waterfront Bar and Grille and at CBS Scene, located within Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.

When an opportunity to buy a restaurant space came up in North Plymouth, he and his brother jumped on it.

“Our concept is about individualism, positivity and being the best you can be,” he says. “I take pride in the fact that we have no particular demographic in our customers. Everyone, no matter what their age or background, feels comfortable here.”

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