headshot-of-geoff-alexander
 
Geoff Alexander
President, Wow Bao, and managing partner, Lettuce Entertain You, Chicago
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May 15, 2019
 
Host Jerry White and Geoff Alexander talk about Geoff’s experience launching a fast-casual brand -- and more specifically, the technology that's helping the brand succeed. Geoff is a managing partner with Lettuce Entertain You and president of Wow Bao. He is also chair of the National Restaurant Association's Fast Casual Industry Council. Jerry is the associate publisher of Plate magazine, and they've got lots to talk about.

In this episode, Geoff talks about how he got his start – fresh out of college – at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, and how an election-booth touchscreen got him thinking about touchscreen ordering at Wow Bao. Hear why “high touch” matters in the restaurant business, and how to find the balance with high tech. Understand the lessons he has learned from LEYE founder Rich Melman about the importance of caring – and why technology works only if it improves the work day for team members. Get Geoff's advice on why you need to prepare for pain points as you integrate technology … and why you need to listen to what your employees and your guests say about the technology. Get Geoff’s take on innovation versus disruption, how he sees artificial intelligence’s application in the restaurant business, and why he’s now a big believer in data.
 
  • [01:25] - Geoffs journey to Lettuce Entertain You
  • [05:09] - Incorporating technology and innovation into Wow Bao's culture
  • [07:58] - The role social media has played at Wow Bao
  • [08:56] - How to harness technology and still maintain a personal touch
  • [12:50] - Improving everyone’s life with technology, not just the customer
  • [16:09] - Disruption vs. innovation and why you need both
  • [18:43] - The role of third-party delivery services
  • [20:53] - Technology, social media and marketing
  • [23:45] - The role data can play in running your restaurant
  • [25:25] - The Fast Casual Industry Council
Since 2009, Alexander has served as President of Wow Bao; Lettuce Entertain You’s quickservice concept featuring steamed bao, a popular portable snack throughout Asia. Under Alexander’s leadership, Wow Bao has revolutionized the way diners interact with restaurants by being a leader in technology and social media. With Alexander’s guidance, Wow Bao has implemented mobile and desktop online ordering, added bicycle delivery, installed self-ordering kiosks, pioneered a mobile gift card and loyalty platform, and turned Wow Bao into a well-respected Chicago social media influencer.

Our host, Jerry White, has worked in operations, in foodservice distribution, and then in media sales, holding top sales and management positions with several leading food media companies during the past 35+ years. Jerry joined the team at Plate magazine in early 2010 as associate publisher and continues in that role providing solutions and opportunities for manufacturers and organizations as they anticipate tomorrow’s industry challenges.

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Episode produced by Dante32.