Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop creates community-based dining experiences using local, fresh, natural, and organic ingredients. With a full bar including craft cocktails, indoor and outdoor patio seating, and on-site chef’s garden, this exciting culinary concept by chef and owner Jonathan Rollo is working. With seven locations in California, I wanted to know more about the success of this brand with a philosophy of “Eat Well. Live Well” serving customers affordably and creatively in a relaxing environment. I caught up with Jonathan at his Venice location and below is our conversation.
What marketing strategies did you launch with that you still use today?
Meeting expectations every time. This means, when people come in, their expectations are met the first time and consistently every time. Our best Greenleaf marketing is making sure we create an individualized experience that is authentic to who our customers are or who they aspire to be. We’re not preachy or prescriptive as we believe our customers are educated adults who can make their own decisions. Whatever they’re in the mood for—a beer and a burger or a cocktail and a salad—we’ll make sure their experience is a positive one with outstanding food and service every time.
What has been the biggest frequency driver?
At Greenleaf, product and convenience are what drive and create frequency among guests. We have hundreds of loyal customers come everyday since we opened in Beverly Hills because Greenleaf is their trustworthy source for daily fuel, no matter what they order, and it becomes a habit. It’s not about price point or discount but knowing they can order a favorite or try something new and will enjoy it every time.
How important is social media and how do you scale it?
Social media has become an important part of every brand because it’s where people go to know who you are. Transparency is such a catch phrase for current strategies—values, mission, or plans for the company—but people want to know and they turn to social media to find out. We make sure our brand voice is centralized to create an authentic experience with our audience. Whether it’s news about an event or catering, picture of our team in the kitchen, or responding to guest comments—we post across all social platforms as a singular, unified voice.
Does everything happen across the brand or individual store level?
Both. We not only have company-wide roll-outs of new menus with full trainings but also launch individual campaigns for different locations either with new cocktails and wines or for a specific holiday or event.
How important is charitable and community outreach?
My vision is to be community-centric—deep rather than wide—so giving back to the community is important to Greenleaf. We’d rather have strong relationships locally than have a national presence. One way we give back is volunteering at the Greater Hollywood Food Bank’s nightly hot meal program, where my team and I prepare an evening meal once a month. We also work with the Children’s Hospital of Greater Los Angeles and the Malibu Triathlon on fundraising initiatives and host educational events for them on-site. One of my favorite ways to give back is creating community gardens. As a dad myself, I love watching kids learn to eat well, learn where foods come from, and balance their own diets. We’re involved in planting community gardens and school gardens, and are now turning one of our lots into an edible garden for a local school.
What is your tip for a great chef wanting to be an entrepreneur?
Get comfortable knowing you won’t be able to run the kitchen and the business. By accepting what you don’t know, you’ll free yourself up to team or partner with someone who can do everything that you’re not good at. Chef entrepreneurs can’t do it all themselves, and while it’s important for everyone to feel your presence—find a way to balance your workload with a team of people passionate about running other parts of your business.
We accept reservations but have too many no-shows? Is there a way to overcome this?
There is a real and measurable profit impact when you’re holding tables for customers that show up late or don’t show at all. At a minimum, require a phone number and/or email. This gives you an opportunity to follow-up 1-2 hours prior to the reservation for confirmation and assist with any other questions. You should also measure your traffic during different dayparts and days of the week to determine the appropriate number of tables that can be left open for walk-in business.
Editor’s note: This is the latest monthly column with Rom Krupp, the founder and CEO of Marketing Vitals, an analytics software helping restaurants of all shapes and sizes. You can read his column on Twin Peaks here, Abuelo's here, Kenny's Restaurant Group here, Firenza Pizza here, Sonny’s BBQ here, Boston's here, Del Frisco’s Grill here, City Barbecue here, Four Foods Group here, Melt Shop here, Sizzler here, Saxbys here, Stoner’s Pizza Joint here, CKE Restaurants here, Chicken Salad Chick here, Quaker Steak & Lube here, and Hopdoddy Burger Bar here.
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