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“Stay curious. Get involved. Ask for help.”
It’s important advice that Shawn Walchef’s grandfather, Luben Walchef, instilled in him long before Shawn founded a burgeoning media empire out of the back of his one-unit restaurant on the outskirts of San Diego.
The founder of Cali BBQ Media believes that having a streamlined digital ecosystem and tech stack is crucial to the success of any business.
Smartphone storytelling is just as important; all business owners have the power to start telling their own story to the online world, using only their mobile phone.
In his extensive experience as a restaurant owner and operator, Shawn Walchef has seen many businesses use a patchwork of different tools, software platforms and hardware for marketing, loyalty, point of sale, planning, back office, etc. This results in a disjointed and inefficient system that ends up costing them extra money and wasting their time.
Once his restaurant business Cali BBQ started using Toast as a point-of-sale provider in 2020, Shawn and General Manager Eric Olafsen realized the innovative company could serve as the heart of their restaurant technology stack.
Toast also allowed them to easily integrate other restaurant technology solutions and improve the overall customer experience of eating Cali BBQ’s “Slow Food Fast” (whether online or in person). Slow Food Fast is Cali BBQ’s motto thanks to the speed and efficiency technology that Toast helps provide.
“Once we had Toast. Now I realize that our ecosystem, our digital ecosystem, can have that heartbeat. And once it has a heartbeat, now I can find a solution that Toast n ‘might not,” Shawn Walchef tells Will Eppard on Spark LA in 2023 about building a tech stack with Toast as the foundation.
Walchef recognizes that investing in the tools necessary for growth can be difficult for business owners. This requires stepping outside the four walls of the business and investing in the resources that will allow the business to grow digitally.
He thinks connecting with other business owners is also key to learning and moving any business forward.
Live events (such as Spark by Toast and the Restaurant Transformation Tour by Restaurant365) and online communities provide opportunities to learn from others and keep up to date with the latest trends and best practices.
Shawn and his Cali BBQ Media team are also hosting two live meetups at the Clubhouse every Wednesday and Friday at 10am (PST) on the social audio app.
One of the lessons Walchef has learned over his years in the industry is that slow and steady wins the race. While it’s tempting to want immediate success and start a unicorn business, he stresses the value of enjoying each day and taking a long-term approach.
This philosophy not only applies to building a successful restaurant, but also to building a successful media business and family.
“I heard a quote the other day and I’ve said it pretty much every day since I heard it, and that’s to stop praying for ‘as soon as possible’ and start to pray ‘as long as you need’,” says Shawn Walchef.
“A lot of what I’ve learned is that slowly and slowly we build our barbecue, how we build our media, how I build my family. It’s enjoying one day at a time.”
Shawn Walchef encourages restaurant owners to share their stories and connect with others online every day. The internet and platforms like Spark LA have given businesses the ability to connect with people around the world, even if they are not in their local market.
As he says, “A rising tide lifts all leaders. Your story matters. You started a business. You started a restaurant. You convinced so many people who told you you couldn’t do it.”
And Shawn is here to help you tell that story.
– Article by TJ Void from CaliBBQ Media
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