A podcast that feeds food & beverage brands

Ep 67: Justin Bartek / VP of Marketing at Dog Haus

Watch the episode
As the VP of Marketing at Dog Haus, Justin Bartek knows hot dogs. And not just hot dogs, but REALLY GOOD hot dogs. He also knows how to grow brands, which is one of the reasons Dog Haus added him to the team in 2022 to help lead the restaurant in its next phase of growth. In this episode of Forktales, Justin dishes up lessons on the importance of quality, the challenges of doing delivery well, the value of good package design and the difference between an $8 hot dog and a $1.50 hot dog.

Listen Now

Forktales
Forktales
Ep 67: Justin Bartek / VP of Marketing at Dog Haus
/

Show Notes

The first Dog Haus opened in Pasadena, California in 2010. Since then, Dog Haus has expanded to include 91 locations throughout southern California. 

 

Dog Haus has garnered critical acclaim and national attention for its signature all beef Haus Dogs and handcrafted proprietary Haus Sausages, as well as its 100% genetically tested, humanely raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free Black Angus beef. 

 

Many start-up restaurants rely on a celebrity name to drive consumer interest, which calls into question the quality of the food and expertise of the celebrity when it comes to the offering. 

 

Consistency of quality is important. Some restaurant brands don’t have standards – or don’t clearly define the standards – which means different dining experiences between each location or even at the same location. 

 

QUOTES

“Our advantage is the quality of the food. It’s the product itself.” (Justin) 


“We are created by people who are very much into food. That’s been our goal since day one.” (Justin) 


“Zeroing in on the quality of the product. That’s not a different story. So many brands think their product is ‘the best.’ What (Dog Haus provides) is reasons to believe why that’s true.” (Joseph) 


“How do you get someone to pay $8 for a hot dog when Costco sells it for $1.50. That’s a unique challenge for us. We do that with high quality ingredients. It’s not just a hot dog and you know that when you see it.” (Justin) 


“Quality matters, especially on delivery.” (Justin) 


“(Some restaurants) make it as cheap as possible and maximize profitability, get the money and go. I think now more than ever, the delivery game has changed that. After I’ve paid for delivery fees and that (meal) comes back tasting like garbage, that’s horrible.” (Joseph) 

TRANSCRIPT

00:00.00

vigorbranding

Everyone and today I’m joined by Justin Bartek you probably remember our episode from early on in the fork tales days I had to have him back because so much has changed since then Justin won’t you say hello and ah give us a little update on where you’ve been and where you are now.


00:16.68

Justin Bartek

Yeah, man, it’s good to see you Joseph as always in the past few months about five months ago now I joined doghouse worldwide which is a hot dog brand but we do smash burgers hot dogs, gourmet sausages breakfast burritos that are actually killing it. Um. And more so it’s very exciting to be over here I’ve sort of been put in a position to help with those virtual brands that they have called the absolute brands. But I’m also you know there’s always so much to do that I’ve been helping with my own connections and background to all across the organization. So. It’s been great.


00:50.71

vigorbranding

That’s awesome. So um, for those don’t remember you you used to be at the Ramen company Jinnya I Still go there. Still love their ramen.


00:56.60

Justin Bartek

I’m correct.


00:58.38

vigorbranding

Um, and as you said now you’re in this new position. Jinnya is a brick and mortar. It’s full service. Well it’s actually fast casual technically there’s counters service. You sit down, you’re kind of waited on um, whereas doghouse and and especially the virtual brand world completely different. So how has this transition gone from you gone for you and.


01:04.90

Justin Bartek

And.


01:18.23

vigorbranding

And what are what are some of the biggest challenges in shifting from this company that you’re at now from Virginia as well as the format shift.


01:27.51

Justin Bartek

Yeah, sure, um, you know when I came here. It’s it’s kind of a great time to be here and that you know when the doghouse brand started it started in 2010 as well same as Virginia um, but they were they were kind of a fast casual brand. You know it wasn’t really about the bar. Yeah, they had beer. They didn’t have full liquor licenses at the time they didn’t have the doghouse beer garden concept. It was just doghouse so that’s kind of our legacy brand at this point and you could imagine ah ah a doghouse like that might be in in an old Taco Bell like the old school Taco Bell that you know from the seventy s that building though. That’s where a doghouse could be now. Got doghouse beer gardens. They’ve got full liquor licenses. They’ve got patios. They’ve got games. They’ve got you know, just much more of a bar experience. So since I’ve been over here. We’ve been talking about how to make this brand more bar. Friendly. How do we make it better. How do we. Increase the happy hour. How do we put it in new drinks. How do we? you know like we’re really going through that top to bottom and really you know have a beverage committee now we’re working with our drink partners like Coca-cola but we’re also looking at the alcohol brands and kind of trying to do some bigger things we’re doing. Doing milkshakes which we’re going to do some spiked ones coming up which is really cool. So like all these things are in development and we’re sort of that brand that’s known for really like if we get an idea. Maybe we’ll make a virtual brand out of it. Maybe we’ll put it on our menu. You know we’ll see but like they’ve been doing that over time and it’s led to a lot of success.


02:50.65

vigorbranding

That’s awesome. Yeah, so I mean it’s a completely different format even within doghouse. It sounds like you guys are really ah, evolving and iterating and learning. Um, what’s interesting to me is this more immersive experience that you’re talking about with the ah beer garden. It’s nothing new, but.


02:53.54

Justin Bartek

Um, yeah.


03:06.83

Justin Bartek

Your.


03:08.66

vigorbranding

Shifting from the traditional idea and bringing this in but then thinking about doghouses building this this. Um you know fame around that experience but virtual doesn’t offer it So How are you bridging that gap. How do you bring that fun and that immersiveness and that uniqueness that doghouse has into these virtual brands that. Maybe inextricably linked ah for people For example.


03:30.41

Justin Bartek

Um, yeah, it’s funny. We’ve got these quirky names like badass breakfast burritos for instance or jail bird which is our wings um just different ideas like that. But what? what? I found what it really comes down to and I don’t want to talk negative about any competitors but you know what it is. It’s like. Got these brands that might have a celebrity at the Helm or just their name is slapped on it. The food quality is not there people know right away what we’ve seen. We’ve done a ton of research on this and really the last six months, especially but. The idea that you know Mr. Biesberger has 800 locations 3000 locations. Whatever that number they want to put on there but how many reorders are they getting after you order that 1 time how many people order that again I would say it’s very small. The other thing we have going for us. You know in our like our badass breakfast burrito concept. We we average selling you know hundreds a day of that product right? So it’s like that’s per location. Mr. Beast we found only sells seven per day at the locations that they have so even though it’s a huge volume because there’s 3000 of them or whatever that number is they’re not selling a ton. You know per location. So what we found is that our advantage is really the quality of the food and we we really try to push that in the forefront from the operations angle from packaging from you know, getting it to a science where we know this is what sells what’s good. We know how to make it. We know how to deliver it with our partners or you know even taking that.


04:54.36

Justin Bartek

Into direct delivery and that sort of thing so that’s the that’s the future. But what we what our advantages is the product itself and our food really sells itself like we’re getting tons of repeat orders. We’ve got a great loyalty um to the brand and infinity to the brand. So now. Our next challenge is like how do we make. That doghouse fan know about badass breakfast burritos because it is not inside the 4 walls right? It’s not on the menu board is badass breakfast breeze ah jail bird is not on the menu right? It’s all virtual. So that’s that’s our challenge is like how do we connect them or maybe do we not want to connect them right? like maybe we don’t need to connect them. Maybe we can license. Badass breakfast burritos with another bigger concept and they can sell that right? So like there’s all these ideas out there that we’re working on so there’s a lot of excitement but really I think what it’s come down to is the core products and how they travel and. This badass breakfast burritos I mean it’s just it’s doing so well, it’s 20% of our sales now across the branch. So. It’s just really taken off in ah in a huge way. So for my job. It’s like how do I what I want to do is make badass breakfast bur briritos and or doghouse what you think of when you think of a breakfast burrito and I know that’s hard to do in California but. In Maryland maybe it’s easier right? Maybe it’s easier in Atlanta you know, like just these other places where breakfast brito culture is not what it is I feel like we can really plant the flag and be that because this product tastes so good and it’s really working. So.


06:05.49

vigorbranding

Um.


06:16.30

vigorbranding

Yeah, that’s so much to unpack there. Um, so for clarity purposes the the virtual concepts that you have now solely exist within dog house footprints or do you have them for other ah Kitchens and.


06:25.20

Justin Bartek

We? Yes, so we do work with both the main kitchen. So kitchen united is obviously our close partner but we do work with with the others as well in certain instances. You know what I mean but it’s very limited and what we’ve what we’ve really found. Is we this year. We’ve sort of. Taken a step back from those so like the kitchen experience the virtual kitchens and really dove more into our own brick and mortar and how to make the execution better from our own stores and so even though we have 6 virtual brands. It’s not like we’re out here trying to get ghost kitchens for all of them. We’re trying to run them from our own kitchens.


06:52.30

vigorbranding

Um.


07:03.35

Justin Bartek

And that’s been sort of the focus for this year but what’s great about that is like I said we could turn on a new brand tomorrow and then here’s ah, here’s another brand here’s a different take on it. You know we’re always the the real research in the kitchen is what. Is great here because these guys love to cook. They love food and it’s like they’re always inventive with that. So it’s like it’s it’s a nice feeling to know they’re also not scared to say okay, here’s a brand like all we need is a logo It’s a packaging and we we got the same ingredients for the most part usually so it’s um, you know.


07:29.17

vigorbranding

Um.


07:30.38

Justin Bartek

They’re They’re very adventurous when it comes to that and then if one sticks great if doesn’t we can take it away. You know it’s not a lot of not a huge investment.


07:37.27

vigorbranding

Yeah,, that’s one of the things that I think has been um I don’t I mean I’ll say scary but I don’t mean scary I think so in y’all’s case it makes a lot of sense you have footprints you have a kitchen you can take the mitigated risk that is lower cost all things considered and by all things I mean. The the cost of finding a location putting an loa down um securing a building out blow this goes On. Um, so that’s great. But I do think that there is a misperception or misconception from a lot of folks that all it is is create a fun name throw a logo together put some packaging together. Wham Bam. Thank you Ma see you later.


07:59.29

Justin Bartek

Um, yes, yes.


08:12.67

Justin Bartek

Um, right.


08:13.72

vigorbranding

And get it out there and I think that my thinking is that it’s going to lead to some of these set it and forget it brands. It’s going to lead to failure is that something that you see that you’re seeing is that something that you guys are worried about.


08:29.36

Justin Bartek

I would say not, We’re not worried about that and it goes back to the product. We’ve tried all these brands right? where we always are like let’s try this one. Let’s see this barstool whatever like but what is it and we get the packaging. We see the food like ah great.


08:40.85

vigorbranding

Um, yeah.


08:42.48

Justin Bartek

And it’s not. It’s nothing that I really would ever want to order again and I don’t want to trash. Anyone’s brands but like it’s just the the name of the game you know, but it’s like it’s like dude like.


08:48.99

vigorbranding

Let’s track him come on.


08:53.60

Justin Bartek

Is Barrstol really spending time to do that research is Mr. Beast really out here testing food like that you know, no, he’s not he doesn’t have time to do that. We know that and plus when it’s not your passion like when I when I see Mario Lopez Tacos do I ever want that? no.


09:00.46

vigorbranding

Um.


09:08.96

Justin Bartek

Is he known for tacos. No, he’s known for being Latin right? like so on du like you just now it’s getting stereotypical like it’s just funny to me that um you know it’s just they don’t have the the culinary background right? and I think where doghouse shines is we are.


09:11.54

vigorbranding

Um, right.


09:21.30

vigorbranding

Right.


09:26.26

Justin Bartek

Created by people that are very into food that was the goal from day 1 we use King Hawaiian roles we do we do all these things that are a little different and we really focus on quality like creekstone farms is our our meat provider. Let’s say no antibiotics like it’s not a joke here like we talk about it but we we need to talk more about it because I think. You know today’s guests especially the younger ones they care about those things they care about the environment the planet where where things are sourced. You know they chipotle is you know for what they are if they’ve done that job of like hey we we’re selling you something better. Is it really I don’t know but they talk about it right? So we we kind of we’re leaning into that as well like let’s put it out there what we’re doing because.


09:58.27

vigorbranding

Right.


10:04.16

Justin Bartek

You are paying for that quality and I think you know from what I’ve heard from our team only being here five or six months you know in the past it’s like how do you get someone to pay $8 for a hot dog when Costco sells for a dollar 50


10:15.21

vigorbranding

Right.


10:16.77

Justin Bartek

So that’s ah, a unique challenge for us. But it’s like how do we do that with high-quality ingredients telling people about the ingredients making these exotic builds and things that look different. It’s not just a hot dog and you know that when you once you see it, you know so it’s that’s our job to really get in front of people.


10:26.38

vigorbranding

Sure, Yeah yeah I Love the approach there and so you’re you’re really zeroing in on the quality of product That’s not a different story I mean everybody thinks Well I won’t say everyone that’s blanket right? So many people think that their food is quote unquote the best.


10:42.56

Justin Bartek

Friend.


10:44.70

vigorbranding

Um, but I think what you started to unpack is reasons to believe why it has a better flavor profile those Kings Y and buns the quality of the product. Um, and how you’re putting it together and I think that culminates to give the market reasons to not just acknowledge but believe and you’re right.


10:52.53

Justin Bartek

A.


11:04.48

vigorbranding

What does Mr Beast bring to that table. So 1 thing that he has that even y’all don’t have is a loudspeaker. Um, you guys have to pay for that right? So you have to go out there to put paid media together. You have to get the you know influencers god forbid I say that word um god I hate that word so much.


11:12.10

Justin Bartek

Um, prayers are.


11:18.54

Justin Bartek

Let me.


11:23.28

vigorbranding

But you have to get influencers to go out there and also add um gravitas to those claims because no one’s going to believe it coming from the Brand’s mouth. But once the word is out and you’ve brought someone through that early funnel using marketing speak to a point where they want to try with Mr. Beeer less with little substance.


11:36.34

Justin Bartek

You.


11:42.88

vigorbranding

With barstool um I’m actually not familiar with their brand I probably their brands I know barstool sports but not their virtual brands. But I would I’d have to imagine Dave Portnoy does have a pretty good stranglehold on pizza and I would say he may have a better stranglehold on pizza than.


11:55.39

Justin Bartek

5


12:02.72

vigorbranding

Many other pizza people out there just because of that series I don’t know if you’ve seen it. But yeah.


12:05.11

Justin Bartek

Yeah, well, what’s funny that brand they don’t they didn’t they weren’t doing pizza. It was wings right? exactly. It’s yeah, it’s one of those things. Dude it’s like um.


12:13.40

vigorbranding

Okay, great. Yes, so like why not do pizza. It’s like like ah.


12:21.00

Justin Bartek

To take it away from virtual for a second just to to talk about this like dobrick dobrick has a pizza shop now here on sunset no one’s going there for the quality of the pizza watch any review I I saw one last week with Portnoy testing it and he’s like I know you’re my boy but dude. And he was really honest like I don’t think I’d eat this again, you know and it’s like very interesting and what we’re seeing with that is like yeah the fame carries it so far. But it’s like with any brand. Yeah, you want to open big those are all going to open big because they do have that that megaphone and they can blast that message out hey great but is there are people buying it again.


12:39.10

vigorbranding

Um, yeah.


12:55.31

vigorbranding

Right.


12:56.59

Justin Bartek

You know I mean that’s all that I care about because yeah, you’ll have this huge splash. Yeah, you might have millions of people interested. But if you don’t deliver the first time like any brand people aren’t going to go back so over time to to one of the questions you would ask like are are they going to die. Are they going to do this. They might not die some of them are definitely going to die because people aren’t going to order them after having it once and then.


13:14.25

vigorbranding

Um.


13:16.55

Justin Bartek

You know restaurants are not going to serve them anymore. There’s because say you know what that one doesn’t Work. We’re just not seeing any orders. Why are we doing it and I think that’s what’s going to Happen. It’s going to take time. But I think you know even though it’s cliche that quality piece matters and especially in delivery because you don’t want to get something that sucks or you know you waited Now. It’s not good or. All those things matter on delivery in ah in a major way. So yeah, they have the fame and they can say hey here’s this virtual Brand I didn’t have to do anything I just put my name on it here here’s the burger if you order from a different Mr. Beast Did you know that there is no standard like the meat quality doesn’t matter to them. They say here’s the build but they don’t care what meat you’re Using. They don’t care what condiments. It’s just yeah, you use ketchup use mustard to use this meat So every time you have it. It could be a different experience depending on where you get it. That’s not really what people look for and brands in my opinion. So another advantage for someone like us who.


14:11.43

vigorbranding

Um, yeah.


14:11.70

Justin Bartek

Does have that standard and you know what you’re getting every time with us. So.


14:16.13

vigorbranding

Yeah I think there’s like this misconception from folks that are either novice novices to the industry or um, play on ah on a lower scale I think it’s a nice way of saying it where those things don’t matter and it’s like.


14:28.48

Justin Bartek

Yeah.


14:32.81

vigorbranding

Make it as cheap as possible maximize the profitability get the money and go. But I think now more than ever The the delivery game has changed it I mean you’re paying a lot of money you know for something that would otherwise be very like very inexpensive like if I got that same Mr Beast Burger Let’s say.


14:42.75

Justin Bartek

Yes.


14:51.83

vigorbranding

You know at a park out of a truck and it and it wasn’t it was different than but the one I’m used to like I probably wouldn’t care too much. You know what? I mean I’m like hey it’s got the things that’s fine. But after I’ve paid for the fees and the delivery fees and I have to tip the guy.


15:04.59

Justin Bartek

Yeah.


15:06.75

vigorbranding

You know I’m paying more for all that than I am the actual product and that thing comes back tasting like garbage I mean that’s horrible. Yeah.


15:11.67

Justin Bartek

Highly disappointing right? like when that happens you’re just like and it leads to in the delivery game. It’s like I feel like a lot of people just probably have a few favorites. You know I mean they can trust it. They know what they’re going to get even if they’re like I’m not hungry for Chipotle today but you know if that bowl comes. Gonna be what you want pretty much and it’s the same thing every time right? But for others, it’s like if I have to do trial and especially with a food like a hamburger. Not the best you know situation for traveling obviously fry same thing like they’re gonna get not as good advantage for us tots.


15:32.98

vigorbranding

Um, yeah.


15:45.63

vigorbranding

A in.


15:46.87

Justin Bartek

Tots last longer. You know what? I mean like little things like that where it’s like we don’t we’re not going to lean in to fries the way we set up our virtual menus like tots are going to be number 1 just trying to think in those ways where it’s like what what does the guest want and need and then try to outthink them if that makes sense and say. What are we gonna deliver that they don’t know they want or can we set it up in a way where it’s like they’re sort of fallen where where we say this is the best of our menu because we know it’s going to take twenty or thirty minutes to get to you so maybe avoid this go with this right? You’re still going to get great flavor all that but we’ that’s. Where we’re at now too is really just engineering that menu or the the menus and trying to get them to that place and we’re also playing with like you know menu positioning so like on on our virtual brands. What’s the order on the dsps versus our own site does it matter. How does it work. what what are the sales differences. All these things we’re trying to just get a lot of data right now and. And push that forward and then the other piece kitchen night I mentioned they are a partner but they’re actually building an os for us that will live on top of toast where we’ll have multibrand ordering and with that in the same basket meaning multibrand loyalty which is really exciting for us because if you’re a doghouse.


16:39.73

vigorbranding

Um.


16:45.38

vigorbranding

In.


16:58.51

Justin Bartek

User or fan and you’ve ordered and we have your history. We know what you’re doing but you’ve never tried Badass Breakfastry here’s an email you you got to try this here’s your discount here’s whatever that is. It’s like tying all that together is really exciting because now people really know that the brands are connected in that way and they’re like oh I like the doghouse calling y I’ll probably like. You know, bad mother KClucker I’ll probably like Badass breakfast brito that that looks Amazing. So we’ll be able to tie that together so that kind of is going to change our whole marketing strategy Once that’s ready to go this year. Um, and then then on my side. Obviously you know me, but ah I push for digital I have a partner with partnership with hyperlocology.


17:18.38

vigorbranding

Um, right.


17:34.97

Justin Bartek

We’re already talking about dialing into that direct ordering once this K U environment’s ready because every marketing piece is going to go direct direct orders you know, um, collect the data retarget.


17:43.54

vigorbranding

Bright.


17:47.68

Justin Bartek

Find lookalikes. The whole thing is going to be dialed in in a way that this brand’s never had it before so we’re really excited about that because in conjunction with this k u thing with Hyperlocologist help. It’s like we’re going to drive transactions direct for our own ordering you know and then we’ll get away from fees that way we’ll be able to subsidize the order. Um, fee or you know the delivery fee through our partners but it’s still cheaper than giving them 2025. Whatever you know these guys have signed up for in the past. So that’s really exciting and that’s just going to open up a new world and I know you you talk about this probably a lot on these pods just in in your career but like the data piece.


18:22.40

vigorbranding

E.


18:24.35

Justin Bartek

Restaurants still struggle with it because we don’t have a data data analyst on our team but we know we need that data. We need to take that data and then. Use it in ways that will help us grow our brand or grow repeat business or grow. You know, like whatever that thing is but we need to harness the data and start using it. So that’s that’s been a huge goal for this year as well.


18:40.70

vigorbranding

Yeah, it’s huge I mean everything is providing data these days but rare is the case that you find folks that really know how to use it. So my friend Tammy billings She started abe and aben’s been pretty great to look at from outside looking in as far as harnessing some of that.


18:48.40

Justin Bartek

Right? yeah.


18:57.49

vigorbranding

Sales data and getting really nuanced with when people are buying when people are making buying decisions. Um you know and hopefully hopefully I’ll get her on the podcast here soon. But um, you know that’s why here at at Vigor Povon we have a data science team for that very reason like it’s like we know you have data. But what are you doing? What story are you excavating from that data that can help you make decisions on things like buying behaviors on things like um, where where not just profitability. But how can you maximize that profitability. How can you maximize order counts and order averages. Um, but a lot of it just comes from the gut.


19:33.84

Justin Bartek

Definitely yeah.


19:36.44

vigorbranding

So that’s that’s really troubling now one side of this that really we haven’t I haven’t really dove into it with anyone and but it’s really intriguing to me and since you’re kind of on the front lines here is the innovations in packaging you know so you mentioned the the french fry game which I mean anybody that works with Frenchchris we know. It just the sweating makes them suck and it’s really tough to keep a well-balanced crisp to to a tooth ah balance in there but what innovations crip crip the tooth. Yeah, it’s really important.


19:57.39

Justin Bartek

Yeah.


20:09.13

Justin Bartek

Crisp the tooth. Love it crisp the tooth. Ha.


20:13.69

vigorbranding

I’m but I’m borrowing tooth from the Pasta world. But yeah, it’s um, what are you seeing as far as innovations and then what kind of Impact. Do you think that’s having on the bottom line because as we know innovations when they first come out cost more. Because it takes a while for the very you know the demand to catch up with the supply and therefore drive prices down.


20:32.91

Justin Bartek

It’s Funny. We we’re in the middle of packaging you know like we’re figuring out how what package you do want to go with in the near term in the short term. It’s like we have some packaging that looks nice, um, with hot dogs a little different so it’s like a tray and then you slide it into a box and it keeps it well. But. Is it hot Enough. It’s Cardboard. You know it’s not.. It’s not ideal right? Fryes same thing like we don’t have great fry packaging solutions right? now here. But at other brands I worked for like hello guys they solved it if you’ve seen their fry package. It’s pretty awesome. It’s got holes in it holds? Well the lid shuts like.


20:50.93

vigorbranding

Right.


21:08.74

Justin Bartek

I Would love for us to go to something like that. Um, but literally I can’t really help you with this because we’re in the middle of like trying to figure this out. We’ve got our designers working on the look and feel but as the actual products like we’re taking a look at everything and we’re probably like a lot of brands like okay what for our brand. What makes most sense you know like our burgers are pretty big. They’re square right? but they’re.


21:25.30

vigorbranding

Um, yeah.


21:28.63

Justin Bartek

Hawaiian roles. So you got to think through that How does that work right? like there’s a lot here where things you don’t have to worry about at other brands we sell corn dogs like how do you get a corn dog hopped someone in the most in the best way so it doesn’t break while it’s on the way you know there’s things like that. So we’re really, we’re really in the middle of it right now trying to figure it out just like everybody.


21:41.50

vigorbranding

Right.


21:48.20

Justin Bartek

Um, but to your point it is a huge I wouldn’t say a concern but it’s like we need to solve it just like everybody else because we do want to get that quality product to you hot and you know crisp to tooth.


21:57.76

vigorbranding

Yeah, it’s um, you know may I think obviously there’s there’s innovations that that happen with the packaging too. But I wonder what what can these dsps delivery service providers for those that don’t know. Um, what can they do to help out. You know like I’m I’m surprised we don’t have um modular solutions that have both hot and cold that can be put into vehicles. Um, you know because then that would make our jobs a little bit easier when we’re thinking about innovating and that hey we know the hot side is going to be capped at one forty one sixty, whatever that that temperature is.


22:33.74

Justin Bartek

Pronounce.


22:35.84

vigorbranding

Um, but if you’re going to provide delivery I think the means of transportation is only 1 facet like you know you’re talking about food and and part of that’s food safety which is really tough.


22:41.83

Justin Bartek

Um, yeah yeah I remember you know a few years ago when it was really happening. Everyone was looking for stickers like how do I seal my bag because before that we didn’t even do that right? you might tie it. You might do whatever it’s like.


22:54.40

vigorbranding

Um, right.


22:57.19

Justin Bartek

I Got to seal it to make sure that you know a driver doesn’t accidentally grabs some fries out of it or whatever you know, like course the horror stories but it’s true. You know you need all that. So um I feel like that part of it. You know was Covid really pushed a lot of you know hey we got to figure out this to go packaging and like.


23:00.80

vigorbranding

Um, yeah, um.


23:14.50

Justin Bartek

Like you said when I was at Virginia when I started at Virginia 8 stores even had delivery even had online ordering 8 right? We had to build it in two months we had to set it up. We needed to talk to dsps like a lot of our stores didn’t even do third party Virginia because they didn’t need to.


23:19.49

vigorbranding

E.


23:30.95

vigorbranding

Um, yeah, well and soups a whole nother level man like get yeah.


23:32.12

Justin Bartek

You know and saying like they made enough money. Yeah, and they were just like we’re good. We’re good. So I know that really from the frontlines of Virginia we had to figure that out within a month or 2 and really get to go and negotiate contracts set it all up with all our franchisees make sure they’re on board make sure they know how to execute you know change the packaging.


23:49.11

vigorbranding

Um, right.


23:50.64

Justin Bartek

We actually set up some some stickers at Virginia that named the which bowl of ramen you you get which sounds so like yeah of course you should do that? No they were using a grease pencil for years because they didn’t have a lot of words so like sure whatret then stickers became mandatory we needed it. You know it helped the guest immensely because you’re getting 4 bowls if you’re ordering 2 rains soup.


23:59.40

vigorbranding

Um, yeah.


24:10.90

Justin Bartek

Toppings soup toppings knowing which is which is huge and especially for someone who might not order ramen a lot so we saw we saw our guest satisfaction go way up once we started doing that we saw it on reviews. We saw it everywhere like oh we love these stickers because now we you know we really know that that’s ours. You know if we have a multiple order So little things like that go a huge go a long way. Um.


24:13.26

vigorbranding

Um, right.


24:29.74

Justin Bartek

But you know I just think the packaging experience is very top of mind here and we’re trying to solve that this year because we know you know it’s it’s got to be done especially across our brands like we when they started the brands it was right when covid started so like the bag they’re like let’s do it cheap.


24:38.51

vigorbranding

Um, right.


24:49.14

Justin Bartek

Here’s a stamp of the logo. So literally we’ve got people at the restaurant stamping bags Badass Breakfast burritos and that was our that was our packaging Now we’re like let’s pick it up a level. Um, you know we could license this brand potentially to another brand. We got to make sure we have everything died in so we’re working through it. But it’s all important man.


24:54.32

vigorbranding

Um, right.


25:05.35

vigorbranding

yeah yeah I mean and I think that’s that’s the thing there’s like no 1 thing that should just be painted over but I do like the idea I mean especially when you’re starting something up, um a lot of places want to do it perfect but perfect is undefined because you you don’t really know what people are going to be buying in what kind of volume and so.


25:08.57

Justin Bartek

F.


25:23.14

vigorbranding

You know we’re big proponents of like get the things set that you know for sure are borderline immovable but also be ready for that evolution. Be ready to learn and iterate and iterate um quickly and if you were in Silicon Valley God I Hate to say this now considering the the things with the banks but like fail fast.


25:25.92

Justin Bartek

Right? yeah.


25:42.10

vigorbranding

You know and the whole idea of failing fast is learn. What’s not working adjust iterate. Try something new until you get the right thing rather than trying to turn every knob perfectly and wait for the perfect moment because there is no such thing. Um.


25:42.16

Justin Bartek

Yep.


25:47.42

Justin Bartek

And.


25:55.16

vigorbranding

You know how how much of that. Are you guys employing how much of that mentality are you putting to use when you when you think about these innovations.


25:58.61

Justin Bartek

We definitely are not not on like packaging per se even though we were talking about that but like happy hour. Let’s say we’ve got different franchisees in different parts of the country and some might say hey we need x on our happy hour menu because this local audience will react and for the longest time. And this is at every brand but they’re like no, we have our set thing here. We’re sticking with this even though it might help you there. We don’t have the bandwidth to create this for you one-off style you know like every brand goes goes through that we’ve been going through that. But how we’re how we’re solving for is we’re allowing certain franchisees to. Try things. We’re setting up committees where it’s like there’s a packaging committee. Let’s say um, there’s a happy hour committee. There’s all these committees with like maybe 4 to 5 franchise partners but like it’s the ones that that’s their specialty. Let’s say so the guy that sells a ton of delivery. We want him on the packaging because he’s going to know right? He’s selling the most. So.


26:35.29

vigorbranding

Are.


26:53.35

Justin Bartek

Um, That’s how we’ve tried to kind of set this up and we’ll let them try things then we’ll come back together say how’s that working for you. How has that impacted sales. How has that impacted your cost etc and then we’ll sort of keep the ball rolling and we’ll say all right? We’re going to implement this now everywhere take this these learnings. This was the best thing because we are of the we’re the kind of people that you know. The best idea wins. Not my idea you know it’s just we want The best idea we don’t care where it comes from. So um, we’re really into that now this year. We’ve honed in on these committees and I think even though I wasn’t here what I’ve learned from this brand is communication communication communication because when Covid happened.


27:13.83

vigorbranding

Um, sure.


27:30.17

Justin Bartek

Franchisees were freaking out. They didn’t have any of the virtual brands. They only had doghouse. They made the decision the first week when everything shut down. Hey let’s turn them on. Let’s go and it was a complete leap of faith because we didn’t know how we were going to do it. We didn’t know how to do 6 brands at the same time you know, but like worked our way through had the partners.


27:32.67

vigorbranding

Means home.


27:47.92

Justin Bartek

Um, the partners had our backs meaning our our founders but then franchisees every week at a weekly call How’s it going here’s what we’re learning kind of triaged our our team. So. It’s like you’re an expert in delivery. You’re an expert in design. You’re an expert in this and we would bring things to the table every week as it was happening so like hey. Ah, Panera Bread’s doing this and it’s working for them and just letting our french disease know like this is what’s out here. Everyone kind of became an expert in a certain you know piece of this and then we just would communicate and overcommunicate and I think that really helped this brand survive it. Their sales actually came out higher because when they launched the virtual brands they got about a 30% pop.


28:24.67

vigorbranding

Um, nice.


28:25.87

Justin Bartek

So It really was a smart thing to do at the time. But even though I wasn’t here. It’s likeve been talking to our team. It’s like that’s how we attacked it. You know, just everyone kind of became an expert. Everyone would talk overcommunic communicate and really I found in my career communicating communication in general most important to franchisees to operations for me being a marketer. Um, early ah in my early early days like baha fresh I Just remember going there and like ops didn’t talk to marketing or at least they were always at odds they might have talked and it was friendly in the hallway. But when it came to decisions. Everybody’s at odds? No One’s on the same page. That’s how it was there from that job I really took that to heart and said look the only way as a marker I’m going to get things done.


28:52.34

vigorbranding

Um, right.


29:04.87

Justin Bartek

Are lockstep with ops either good cop, bad cop or what do they need from me to help them and then they’ll help me you know So I’ve always tried to attack it that way in my career but it’s coming from a place where it was not like that and it was very obvious and it could’ve been way better. So I always just tried to take that.


29:13.24

vigorbranding

That’s right.


29:21.99

Justin Bartek

You know as I moved on in my career for sure I have.


29:23.83

vigorbranding

There’s a good lesson learned. Um I would say 1 idea to bring to the table for you guys this one’s free by the way is remove the word committee and I think you should take inspiration from imperialist Britain um and change it to ministry.


29:34.91

Justin Bartek

Um, okay I love it I love that I’m gonna put that on my Linkedin. Ah.


29:36.72

vigorbranding

So the ministry of packaging innovation like now something you want to put on your resume. But yeah, yeah I am ah the leader of the ministry of amazing marketing solutions I Love it.


29:51.48

Justin Bartek

Ah, there you go and you know.


29:53.95

vigorbranding

Well so you’re kind of at the forefront. It’s going on in in the virtual space and um, you know it amazes me every month as I see more and more brands kind of come and I think some are dying off something slower than others some quicker than I expected. Um what? What do you think is next up for. This massive digital shift and and virtual brands and do you think we’re going to start to see a convergence of virtual concept that do so well that they actually find a place in brick and mortar. Um, what? What’s the big forecast from Senor Bartek


30:23.11

Justin Bartek

I think that’s going to happen I I think what will happen and it depends if you know maybe at a Ceo level if they’ll let it happen but I do I think that licensing brands that are popular is going to become a thing I think we’re obviously on the forefront of that now talking to some people. Can’t talk about who but like there’s some things where it could be thousand locations and it could be tomorrow. So if that happens that as breakfast burrito we become a burrito brand right overnight which is kind of scary but our founding partners are talking about already like you know what? that means like it’s a thousand locations where we would do everything we would do all the marketing we would do the packaging all this. We’re already preparing for that. But I I really do see that I think a lot of the flyby night celebrity led brands will go away I mean it’s just it’s gonna happen because of quality control I feel more than anything also in that world. You know when you’re whenever you’re dealing with celebrity. It could be here today. Gone tomorrow.


31:12.94

vigorbranding

Right.


31:21.80

Justin Bartek

I mean like yeah Mariah Carey has staying power and she’s probably not going anywhere but like do people are people going to care about Mario Lopez if he’s not on that show anymore or Mr Beast he could have some who was the other guy online and said something and then he was just erased like the next day right like


31:27.61

vigorbranding

Every.


31:35.98

vigorbranding

Um, yeah.


31:37.65

Justin Bartek

That kind of thing happens and then it’s like maybe Mr Beast goes away. He slips up and says one wrong thing all of a sudden. He’s banned or whatever right? So I just feel like those type of brands aren’t here for the long haul I feel like if it’s chef driven or brand driven and you you know that food that’s where it’s going to be I think you know, um.


31:42.79

vigorbranding

Um, yeah.


31:55.92

Justin Bartek

Who who does a great job like fukoo you know anything like this you know you’re getting from Chang you know mean like Chang is going to kill it. So um I just think it’s more chef-d driven more brand driven. It’s more about story. You know how it is with the youth you have a kid now.


31:58.90

vigorbranding

Um, he’s crushing right now. Yeah.


32:10.36

Justin Bartek

They they care about the planet they care about. Maybe not yours not old enough to care about anything the the bathroom and food but you know I mean just the the way the world is going I feel I feel like the real stories are more important than ever you know I mean telling your real background telling your real history and then having people buy into that by saying you know what.


32:10.47

vigorbranding

Um, yeah, not yet. Yeah is great.


32:29.45

Justin Bartek

I Like that too or I’m that way too and I combine into that and I see where these guys are coming from or I see where these ladies they started in their kitchen. They did this whole thing Now they have this brand like I love stories like that even out here I mean I don’t know if you’ve been out here in a little bit but we’ve got this brand home state which you may have heard of it’s it’s ah it’s.


32:46.81

vigorbranding

I Don’t know if it did okay.


32:48.33

Justin Bartek

Ah, a woman from Texas but she does breakfast tacos and she makes Caso and she’s got she’s a triplet so she has 2 sisters but it’s literally like just they started here. They brought these recipes here and now I think they have 6 or 7 locations but it’s a brand I love because it’s like the vibe. The music they’re making tortillas by hand.


33:06.11

vigorbranding

Um, yeah.


33:07.90

Justin Bartek

Great food. You know it’s just like they’re doing a great job and it’s the kind of brand that could blow up and that’s what you want, You know you mean they have a story they’re in the community. They they do donations they work with music artists to do their you know foundational kind of things. It’s just like that’s a kind of brand I Want to be a part of I don’t feel bad spending my money there because I know that she’s.


33:17.30

vigorbranding

Right.


33:24.40

vigorbranding

That’s right.


33:25.50

Justin Bartek

You know doing it in the community and really doing a great job. So I think brands like that are are what people will focus on in the future and especially the youth think as we grow you know we’re old. We don’t yeah we like what we like but like these these young kids are are the future Obviously but they’re the ones that are like what do they stand for that matters which back when I was.


33:35.57

vigorbranding

Um, yeah to bummer date. Yeah.


33:44.37

Justin Bartek

I think I went to Burger King and I’m saying I didn’t care what their politics were or whatever I went to these restaurants I didn’t care now. It’s just it’s a cultural change and I think those that are equipped to deal with that or at least have a story or bring something to the table are going to be in a better position than those that don’t.


33:44.54

vigorbranding

Um, yeah.


33:59.33

vigorbranding

Yeah I mean I think patrons you’re you’re tapping into it outside of the philanthropy and the the political statements and stuff like that I think those are all um surface level outputs from a deeper need and I think that need is to feel like a sense of honesty. And the sense of real like you mentioned with home state like I just want to feel like it’s real I want to feel like I’m not lining the pockets of some fat cat wall street blah blah blah and you can go down that whole you know rabbit hole. Um, but only because you brought her up I’m going to bring bring us back to that for one second if Mariah Carey opens up a Christmas cookies brand.


34:22.70

Justin Bartek

Um, and.


34:36.88

vigorbranding

Um, buying them I’m buying them like a lot like I just think our principal that’s right, yeah and she doesn’t want a lot for Christmas she only wants you and these delicious cookies. Ah.


34:38.50

Justin Bartek

Yeah, you know why? ah you she knows Christmas probably better than anybody no to buy a cook. Yes.


34:54.40

vigorbranding

Ah, ah, um, that idea is copywritten if you do decide anyone listening to connect with Mariah Miscarry and I expect to be called I want I want royalties and I think it’s a brilliant idea in the making. Um.


34:55.62

Justin Bartek

See whatever.


35:09.67

vigorbranding

So last time we had you on. We asked you what your 1 final meal would be I think it’d be kind of unfair to do that again. Um, so why don’t we water that down a little bit and ask you what is your favorite meal right now or your favorite place to eat. What are you loving the most.


35:14.87

Justin Bartek

Um, yeah.


35:27.60

vigorbranding

Not You can’t say anything from doghouse because that’s obvious.


35:30.30

Justin Bartek

Yeah now. Um you may have been to this spot. But you know Javier’s that brand I think there’s about 6 of them vegas here couple places. Um dude I love their food I love that whole menu I could I could go there and try something different.


35:36.12

vigorbranding

Yeah, yeah, yeah.


35:45.88

Justin Bartek

Thirty days in a row and be satisfied every time I mean it’s just an amazing experience. So ah, for fine dining mexican food on on the coast like going down there. It’s one of my favorite things to do and also the people watching because you could imagine Newport Coast like who’s going there and it’s just hilarious.


35:50.50

vigorbranding

Um, yeah.


36:03.40

Justin Bartek

For someone like me I’m just like I love it. So I just like the people watching or load the food. They’ve got an amazing bar like just attention to detail with javier himself I have a friend that actually it’s a random as story but maybe ten years ago the first time I went.


36:03.43

vigorbranding

That’s right.


36:18.76

Justin Bartek

He played on javier’s basketball team they were in this like wreck league. So he knew them so we would go there. My wife and I and a couple friends and Javier’s there comes to the table and like.


36:23.70

vigorbranding

Um, okay.


36:30.30

Justin Bartek

I had never been there so I’m just like this is amazing like there’s just like is like this every time it’s like no because my friend was with us that knows him but he’s bringing out kcd is doing the whole thing and it’s just like such a nice time but that was the first time I went and then ever since I just like love the brand the attention detail the the quality you know like that’s the kind of brands I want to work for or be a part of so.


36:30.52

vigorbranding

Yeah.


36:49.78

Justin Bartek

I would say Ha Yearss and there’s nothing on that menu I wouldn’t need but you know the the molay enchiladas are Killer. So yeah.


36:55.94

vigorbranding

Cool that sounds Killer man. Um, yeah, next time I around one. Maybe it’s Vegas for a trade show or maybe I get out there to to the L a area again. We’ll have to we’ll have to go look man. Thanks for being so generous with your time and your insights and your ideas It’s great having you on again. Um.


37:05.70

Justin Bartek

Um, yeah.


37:10.33

Justin Bartek

Um, course.


37:14.23

vigorbranding

And hope hopes to connect with you real soon.


37:16.71

Justin Bartek

Anytime Buddy Thank you.


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Share this

Episode Details

Forktales - a podcast that feeds food and beverage

Launching April 15th

Signup to get notified when we launch and when new episodes are available.