Tim Love and Joe Bastianich will be pitched ideas from two teams in desperate need of an investment so that they can get their dream location for a second restaurant.
Located in Kingston, Tennessee, Gloria Jean’s is a southern comfort food restaurant that is owned by Robert DeBinder. Robert named the restaurant after his grandmother who taught him everything he knows about cooking and he still uses her recipes as basis for all the meals in the restaurant. Joining Robert is his chef, Travis Gunter. Though Travis has no financial investment in Gloria Jean’s, Robert gave him a chance to find sobriety and he is loyal to the restaurant. Wanting to build a second location in downtown Knoxville and with a dream location picked out, Robert is asking for an investment of $250k for 30% equity in the business.
Tim and Joe enjoy the food that Robert and Travis made. However, a problem comes up when Joe finds out that they only charge $12 for a specific meal and Joe thinks that they need to charge at least $20. Discussing their Kingston location, Robert explains that they make $500k annually with a profit margin of thirteen to fourteen percent. At the dream location, Robert is expecting a check average of $17 a person. This shocks Joe who thinks that a restaurant like this in Knoxville will need a check average of $30 to $40 a person. Robert disagrees with this and Joe gets so passionate about his position that he slams the cookbook that belonged to Robert’s grandmother on a table. Though Robert is upset, Joe and Tim are trying to communicate that Robert needs to charge more because they are worth more money. After all, a good restaurant doesn’t just sell food, it sells an experience.
Taste Mediterranean Tapas
Clayton Farhood and Stephen Bradley are a married couple who run Nunu’s Mediterranean Cafe & Market in Oklahoma City; Clayton is the owner and Stephen is the managing partner. Wanting to build on their knowledge of Mediterranean food, Clayton and Stephen want to create a restaurant called Taste Mediterranean Tapas that will center on small plates and offer a dining experience that no one else offers in Oklahoma. Moreover, they want to build this restaurant in downtown Oklahoma City and need an investment in order to secure the space they want. Using recipes Clayton’s grandmother brought over from Lebanon, their business has turned a profit every year and they believe now is the time to strike and expand into a new location. To accomplish this goal, Stephen and Clayton are asking the investors for $300k for 30% of their business.
Joe and Tim find the food costs to be acceptable. Joe also comments that the food is technically correct but gives no sense that he is excited about the products. Clayton goes on to predict that the check average would be $40 a person at the new restaurant, but he encounters resistance from Joe when he admits that their current business is a deli not a restaurant. Asking who has the experience of running a restaurant, Joe is disappointed that Clayton and Stephen claim to share the responsibility of running Nunu’s. In Joe’s mind, the idea of everyone doing everything is often a recipe for disaster.
Tim enjoys small plates but is nervous that Taste doesn’t have the needed experience to run a restaurant. Building on this, Joe also feels that they lack the professional discipline to run a restaurant. In regards to Gloria Jean’s, Joe likes that they are passionate about the food but he and Tim feel that they need to accept that Knoxville is a different market from Knoxville and it will demand different prices.
Believing that Gloria Jean’s has the greater potential for financial success, Tim and Joe pick Gloria Jean’s to launch their idea. Joe and Tim explain to Robert and Travis that they need to be open minded to changing their prices.
Early in the launch Robert and Travis decide to divide responsibilities. This means that Travis will run the kitchen and Robert will run the front of the house. Meeting with Antonia Lofaso, Robert and Travis are again reminded that they need to raise their prices. Robert is resistant to this because he wants Gloria Jean’s to remain open to people from all economic backgrounds. Talking to Roy Rede, Robert wants to stay true to southern rustic aesthetics. Specifically, Robert requests as much brick as possible, black rod iron accents, plants, and images of the recipes Robert’s grandmother created to be placed around the restaurant.
When Antonia returns to try the food she finds that Robert has not changed the prices on the menu. Trying the food Antonia struggles to communicate that they can increase check averages without price gouging customers. Antonia wants Robert to understand that he needs to be collaborative business partner and learn how to provide an experience that justifies a $20 plate of food. Robert, however, remains stubborn and unwilling to change. Antonia shows them how they can change the presentation of a meal to justify a price increase. After this, Robert seems to understand her perspective because people to eat with their eyes.
Returning the next day, Robert and Travis are blown away by the job Roy did developing the space. Preparing for the launch, Antonia arrives to ask about their projections. Robert predicts a check average of $35 a person and two full table turns. Robert decides not to have a hostess for the launch because he will run the front of the house and has experience doing so.
Tim and Joe arrive before the launch and are impressed by the look of the restaurant. Antonia shares with Joe and Tim that Robert and Travis do have passion, and have hopefully progressed enough to impress Joe and Tim. Talking to Robert and Travis, Tim and Joe are pleased that they finally came around and increased the prices on their menu.
The launch starts well but Robert quickly becomes overwhelmed keeping track of servers that he regrets not hiring a hostess for the night. So many customers come in that they end up seating themselves and have no idea how long they’ll have to wait to order. This rush of customers creates a back up in the kitchen because the orders are pouring in.
Though Travis was stressed out at first, he and the cooking staff step up and get the food prepared. Sadly, the servers fail to stay on task and food begins to sit in the window. Robert also begins to bump heads with Joe. Robert is frustrated by the stress of the night and Joe – though trying to help – only adds to this stress. Robert feels so overwhelmed that he shutdowns and steps out of the restaurant for a bit. Tim talks to Robert in private about this and tells him that no one runs a perfect restaurant but Tim and Joe are interested in seeing what happens when things don’t go right.
After Joe talks to Travis about the plating of a meal, Robert and Joe get into an argument. It leaves Joe convinced that Robert is unwilling to accept advice. This problem is compounded by the fact that when Robert is stressed his posture and facial expression become intimidating. Sitting down to try the food, Tim and Joe express that they like the atmosphere and enjoy the food, but they don’t believe that Robert is ready to run a busy restaurant.
The Deal Table
Meeting with Joe and Tim after the launch, Robert and Travis are exhausted by the experience. Tim shares that 92% of the people liked the food. However, they predicted an average of two turns and they had only 1.25 turns. Tim states that 90% of the customers felt that the food quality justified the price. Also, they had a $38 check average instead of $35. Tim argues that this is proof that Robert and Travis could charge more than they originally wanted to.
Joe shares that 94% of the customers could see it in a big city but 50% thought the service was flawed. Robert acknowledges that they had some service problems. Tim wants to know what happened. Robert and Travis had such energy and passion, but Robert lost that passion when things got a little difficult. Joe makes it clear that while Travis delivered, Robert didn’t. Tim states that if he invests in the concept Travis will have to get an ownership stake within the business.
Joe wants to know why Robert was so closed off and so reluctant to open up. Joe once saw passion in Robert, but now sees only pride in Robert. As such, Joe will not invest in Gloria Jean’s. Tim also decides not to invest in Gloria Jean’s. He didn’t expect perfection from Robert, but he can’t forgive Robert for dropping his enthusiasm for the restaurant. Robert disagrees with Tim’s and Joe’s opinions and leaves disappointed. As of the airing of this episode, Robert and Travis are still running Gloria Jean’s in Kingston, TN. and have returned to their previous prices while looking for new investors.