Focusing on Your Restaurant’s “Founding Why” with Kitava’s Bryan Tublin

On today’s episode of the QSR Experience Show, Bobby speaks with Bryan Tublin, Owner and Co-Founder of Kitava Kitchen, a clean, casual restaurant serving modern American cuisine with a local twist. They discuss how Kitava was founded out of a need for healthier food options, and the ways in which Kitava creates great customer experiences across its expanding locations. They also talk about how brands can scale by creating quality products, knowing your unit economics, and focusing on your “founding why.”

Topics discussed:

  • How Bryan created Kitava in response to his own health needs, and how Kitvava is now scaling in the Bay Area and across the country.
  • How Kitava creates great customer experiences by welcoming each guest individually and providing options for how they want to dine.
  • The role technology plays at Kitava, and which systems they use to manage orders, scheduling, inventory, and more.
  • How Kitava provides consistency across its locations through check-ins, communication, visits, and even taking photographs of the food.
  • Advice to other restaurant owners that creating and scaling a brand begins with having a quality product, and then making sure the unit economics work.
  • Why business leaders should always return to their “founding why” to guide their decision-making.
  • How Kitava responds to its customers by offering seasonal bowls and bringing back fan favorites. 

Guest Quotes: 

“Going back to that ‘founding why’ has been really helpful over the last several years because it’s really tempting to try to appeal to folks that can help you make a quick buck, or capitalize on a rising trend, or cut costs in an area as all costs are rising everywhere. If you’re not really tethered to strong principles that relate to your founding ethos, you’ll get lost and your brand will be watered down.” (13:39)

“In location, it’s all about making sure that they’re greeted with a smile and eye contact. So that’s the first thing, is welcoming them into the space. It can be tempting to get distracted fulfilling takeout and delivery orders. And you want to make sure that the folks who walk in understand that you’re there to serve them in whatever capacity that is for your establishment.” (6:51)

“It starts with quality and it starts with serving a need. So it’s like any product, any business, you have to find your product market fit. You have to have people that are coming back, purchasing repeatedly. What you don’t want to see is a brand that has got a huge top of the funnel and then it’s just a leaky bucket where you’re constantly having to acquire new folks because you’re not creating any fans. So it sounds trite to say, but having a really quality product that solves a real need is first and foremost.” (10:58)

“You need to make money and reinvest it back in the business to expand. And I think a lot of people, when they talk about scaling and they talk about expansion, they don’t necessarily think about unit economics on an individual purchase level, but that’s the next step that has to exist. Otherwise you’re not going to have the capital to be able to expand.” (11:41)

“Then it’s really about telling your story and becoming really clear and crisp about what you’re doing, what you offer, what your value proposition is. If you’re not crisp there, if you  waver back and forth about who you are and describing what your business is, you’re never going to be able to scale that fan base.” (11:59)