Geoff Alexander & Paul Damico
Industry Leaders

Oct, 01  2019

On this special edition of Fast Casual Insider, Jerry heads to the floor of the 100th annual National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago to talk with Geoff Alexander and Paul Damico. Geoff is the president of Wow Bao, a Chicago chain specializing in steamed bao. Paul is the CEO of Naf Naf Grill, another Chicago-based chain specializing in Middle Eastern food.

Geoff, Paul and Jerry discuss the rise of third-party delivery and how this has affected their restaurants. They further discuss how delivery is changing their growth strategy and leading them to try innovative new restaurant concepts as their concepts expand.
  • [02:14] - Geoff Alexander, president of Wow Bao
  • [02:24]  - Paul Damico, CEO of Naf Naf Grill 
  • [02:45] - Incorporating third-party delivery in the fast casual marketplace
  • [05:11] - Planning the footprint of future locations
  • [06:50] - Maintaining a relationship with digital guests
  • [10:28] - Delivery survival of the fittest?
  • [13:02] - Overestimating generational interests
  • [15:26] - Is third-party delivery a different daypart for marketing?
  • [16:30] - Is Gen Z driving the growth in delivery?
  • [17:57] - Why Paul was attracted to Naf Naf Grill
  • [19:16] - Introducing centuries-old cuisine to broad new audiences
  • [20:49] - Has in-store marketing remained unchanged?
  • [21:26] - What's next for Wow Bao?
  • [23:35] - Opportunities at on-site locations
  • [23:02] - Changes on the horizon
Geoff Alexander is the president of Wow Bao and has been a partner at Lettuce Entertain You for more than 26 years. Geoff is the chairman of the National Restaurant Association’s Fast Casual Industry Council, an executive board member for Chicago’s Magnificent Mile Association, and an advisory board member for Social Media Week Chicago.

Paul Damico is the CEO of Naf Naf Grill and has helped the chain grow to 38 locations in seven states. Paul has also helmed several other brands under the Focus Brands umbrella, including Cinnabon, McAlister’s Deli, and Moe’s.

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. 

This episode was sponsored by Sage Intacct, a leading provider of restaurant accounting and financial solutions. Sage Intacct helps their restaurant customers reduce time, cost and resources on tedious financial processes so they can focus on servicing customers and growing their businesses. Learn more about how Sage Intacct restaurant customers make smarter decisions with critical visibility into business performance by visiting www.sageintacct.com/hospitality.

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This podcast episode was produced by Dante32.