Apologies for coming late to this story. The winner of NBC's America's Next Great Restaurant, which initially opened locations in LA, New York, and Minneapolis, is now down to just one restaurant in the Mall of America.


I enthusiastically watched this show from the beginning. Having one of my feet firmly planted in the 'foodietainment' scene, this contest made me giddy. We were going to see a dozen or so concepts refined and ridiculed until only one was left standing. Unfortunately, as the season was coming to an end I lost interest, but eventually heard the winner was Soul Daddy - a concept centered around "healthier" soul food. Whaaat!?


Rather than critique the judges choice for who won the show (which is definitely up for debate), what's more intriguing is the prize these judge/investors decided upon -- opening up three locations. Bobby Flay, Curtis Stone, Lorena Garcia, and Chipotle's Steve Ells are very intelligent, business-saavy people. Did they never imagine the concept they chose would face the hurdles it's facing now. Did they expect their "Midas touch" to set things in motion? Will the egg be on their face if Soul Daddy sinks even in the Mall of America? That wouldn't exactly call for a second season.


Having never opened a restaurant, I appreciated what this show tried to do -- to give average Americans an inside look into the restaurant business. As the show tried to convey, starting a restaurant isn't easy. There are tons of moving parts that must align in order to reach success. There are unexpected complications, kinks, and a constant cycle of trial and error. I clearly understood that from watching the show.


I'm just a little surprised that the expert judges (and/or NBC) seemed to have declared "Mission Accomplished" just a little too soon. If "Game Over" comes sooner than later for Soul Daddy, it will be interesting to hear the reaction from Flay, Stone, Garcia, and Ells. Perhaps picking the next great restaurant was a feat even they underestimated.


Your Thoughts! As a restaurant owner or being in the industry, are you surprised that the other two locations closed down so quickly? Were they trying to do too much too fast? Or is the concept just a dud?

Views: 10


You need to be a member of FohBoh to add comments!

Join FohBoh

Comment by Christopher Wells on June 22, 2011 at 8:55am

Hello Josh, 


I think it's obvious that a lot of decisions made where taken in a boardroom for a cool tv show. Then someone sold the four "investors" the idea based on the power of television. The thinking behind it being that because of the the television attention people would flock to the 3 locations. But in like any other restaurant, people might try it once based on curiosity, but wouldn't return if the value wasn't there. 


Also the expectations of clients was probably higher than if they'd just stumbled upon " Soul food" and try it on their own (because of the "Big Names" associated with it from the tv show.)

The toughest thing in opening a restaurant, even with existing locations, is having consistency until everyone gets comfortable with their roles and all staff are aware of what's expected of them and how to do that right.


There's no way a newcomer could do that with 3 restaurants so far apart. Neither Flay or Ells would have ever tried that with their own brands.


It was a cool concept but in no way was it credible unless they'd have a full team working the 3 stores simultaneously weeding out problems and still that would have been a long shot. 


Open up one store at a time, get really good at it, get great reviews and a system in place that you can duplicate. Most chains succeed based on the quality of their systems more then the quality of their foods. 


Think about it. Think of any restaurant chain right now. Think of their signature product. I bet in most cases you can make better at home or you've had better in a little unknown restaurant. Yet these chains sell millions of dollars of said products every day. Why? The system they have in place. They spend more time working on the business then in the business.


Too bad no one explained that too Jamawn Woods. I'm sure he's learned a lot in the last month.




Social Wine Club for Craft Wineries


Red Lobster crafts new, high-end image

Red Lobster will nix low-price specials and focus on flourishes like plating in order to reshape itself as a cut above dine-i -More

The Year of the Instagram Strategy
Managing the Instagram channel has become a strategic imperative for any brand or small business, and the urgency grows daily along with its user base. During this webinar on August 12 you'll hear how brands such as Disneyland Resort, JCPenney, and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf are utilizing this platform to connect with their customers in an authentic, relevant way. Register today!

The tweet's the thing

Everyone’s atwitter about the NRA's Kids LiveWell Twitter party, held in celebration of the program’s third anniv -More

Arby's meaty campaign highlights protein lineup

Arby's new campaign, "We have the meats!," focuses on the chain's new limited-time menu offering, the Mega Meat Stack, which  -More


Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $50 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

Gen Z, the First True Digital Generation, Represents the Future Foodservice Consumer

Gen Z, the first true digital generation, represents the future foodservice consumer. They're a generation on the move that strongly prioritizes speed of service, technology, and having what they want, when they want it. Millennials, more so than older generations, prefer to visit restaurants that offer new and unique foods and flavors. Gen X and Boomers converge on several preferences—such as the importance of a convenient location.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Celebrates Its 500th New Restaurant Opening

Red Robin's 500th new restaurant opening will open on Aug. 4 at 11 a.m., in Milpitas, Calif. at the Great Mall of the Bay Area.

Darden Completes Sale Of Red Lobster To Golden Gate Capital

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) and Golden Gate Capital today announced that Golden Gate has completed the acquisition of the Red Lobster business and certain other related assets and assumed liabilities for approximately $2.1 billion in cash.

Dunkin' Donuts Announces Plans For Seven New Restaurants In Duluth, Minnesota With New Franchisees Brian And Sharon Weidendorf

Dunkin' Donuts announced today the signing of a multi-unit store development agreement with new franchisees, Brian and Sharon Weidendorf, to develop seven restaurants in Duluth, Minnesota and the surrounding areas. The first restaurant is planned to open in spring 2015.

Wendy's Names Brandon Solano Senior Vice President of Marketing

The Wendy's Company (NASDAQ: WEN) announced today that Brandon Solano, 43, a veteran brand builder and product innovator, has been named Senior Vice President of Marketing.


If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.


TED: Ze Frank: Are you human? - Ze Frank (2014)

Have you ever wondered: Am I a human being? Ze Frank suggests a series of simple questions that will determine this. Please relax and follow the prompts. Let's begin …

TED: Heather Barnett: What humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime - Heather Barnett (2014)

Inspired by biological design and self-organizing systems, artist Heather Barnett co-creates with physarum polycephalum, a eukaryotic microorganism that lives in cool, moist areas. What can people learn from the semi-intelligent slime mold? Watch this talk to find out.

TED: Shih Chieh Huang: Sculptures that’d be at home in the deep sea - Shih Chieh Huang (2014)

When he was young, artist Shih Chieh Huang loved taking toys apart and perusing the aisles of night markets in Taiwan for unexpected objects. Today, this TED Fellow creates madcap sculptures that seem to have a life of their own—with eyes that blink, tentacles that unfurl and parts that light up like bioluminescent sea creatures.

TED: Nikolai Begg: A tool to fix one of the most dangerous moments in surgery - Nikolai Begg (2013)

Surgeons are required every day to puncture human skin before procedures — with the risk of damaging what's on the other side. In a fascinating talk, find out how mechanical engineer Nikolai Begg is using physics to update an important medical device, called the trocar, and improve one of the most dangerous moments in many common surgeries.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service