On June 18, 2020, we held a webinar featuring Nick Sarillo of Nick’s Pizza & Pub & The Trust & Track Institute.

Nick discussed how he nearly lost two high-grossing and profitable restaurants in 2011. He also shared his emotional experiences of facing bankruptcy, tapping into the company’s strengths to bring it back to life, and battling complacency as a second virus.

Below is a recording of the webinar.

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SUMMARY NOTES

  • Background of Nick’s Pizza and Pub

    • Owned for 25 years

    • One of the top independently owned restaurant

    • Highly profitable

    • Invested heavily in team with training and development as well as values

    • First crisis in 2011 (Elgin)

      • The issue:

        • Post recession (had done okay in recession)

        • Became harder at the end of recession

        • Major supercenter coming nearby restaurant in Elgin

        • Road construction had larger impact than anticipated

        • Lost about 50% of sales during summer (busiest time)

        • Needed to make it to Oct 1 with center opening, but not really making it

      •  The approach:

        • A couple of weeks left of payroll in projection

        • Wrote email to guests about closure (against advice of professionals, but team behind the idea)

        • Brought wave of support from community, for several weeks with 110% increase in sales, able to continue business

      • The lesson:

        • Cash flow king

        • Communication

        • Team was the value, they had created it with guests

        • Live to values

    • Second crisis in 2019/2020

      • The issue:

        • Third restaurant in Chicago not successful has to close

        • Partnered with individual prepared to buy debt of Chicago restaurant closing and take over business and allow Nick to focus on new business of Trust and Track

        • Individual funding fell through, unable to buy business

        • Caused business to file Chapter 11 to restructure

        • Pandemic hits and shuts down restaurant

      • The approach:

        • Pivot to more carry-out and different menu

        • Mind-set shift

        • Involve the team for decisions

        • Put processes and standards to new protocols (e.g. curbside hostess)

        • Able to keep about 60% of normal revenue and keep team employed and bring them back as they are able to open (without a PPP loan)

      • The lesson:

        • Trust in your team

        • Pivot/adapt

        • Extremely value driven, team is empowered to make decisions

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