M&C Report talks to restaurant entrepreneur Michael Gottlieb, the non-executive chairman of Hawaiian burger and sandwich concept Kua ‘Aina and non-executive director at 3Sixty Restaurants, about his best investment, the best piece of advice he’s ever received and identifies the person who has had the most influence in his career.
What’s the most important action the industry can take to encourage the consumer? To treat each and every customer as an honoured guest, offer honest and transparent pricing and inject some relaxed fun and humour into the dining out experience.
What single action could Government make that would make a difference? Very simple: rid the industry of some of the more unnecessary burdens of red tape… and this especially applies to smaller businesses. Also, local councils must stop treating their businesses as ‘milch cows’ by continuously extracting every possible penny from them, hindering and taxing initiatives such as outdoor dining. Instead they should encourage those businesses to grow and become responsible, integral parts of the local community.
What is your top priority? To improve a little every day in every way what we offer to our guests. Our business is, if nothing else, made up of detail, detail, detail all of which requires thinking about, monitoring, adjusting and improving 24/7.
What has been your best investment? My wife. The cost of the first time I took her out in 1974 to a restaurant (Bloom’s in the East End would you believe) was the best £15 I ever spent.
What has been your best business decision? The last one I made. Business to me is about making important small decisions daily… not usually making one or two big decisions.
How much has your business changed to combat the recession? In the case of Kua ‘Aina it has been striving for consistency of product and service so that our guests feel they can trust us and our product and return time and time again with confidence.
Who is doing something special in the industry? My old chef, partner and now owner of Cafe Spice Namaste Cyrus Todiwala. The amount he gives back to the industry in terms of training, caring for youngsters and helping them develop is awe inspiring.
Most admired brand? It has to be Pret a Manger and McDonalds. Pret for making sure their staff are consistently well trained and cheerful and McDonald’s for turning around a tired, moribund brand and a laughing stock, into one that now produces better, more responsible products that even I like to eat at from time to time. Have you tried their latest McFlurry? Outside the industry, it has to be the John Lewis Partnership. Andy Street the MD is so low-key but so cool.
Who has been most influential in your career? All of my staff who give me inspiration every day.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Focus on what’s in front of you. Very hard in practice though as I am very, very impatient to make things better and I have a grasshopper mind.