In this episode, we welcome Dan Mesches, a seasoned professional in the restaurant industry.
Dan Mesches brings a wealth of restaurant experience to his role as President and CEO of Sprinkles, which he has held since early 2017. He discovered his passion for the restaurant business while working his way through school at Union College in Schenectady, NY. He later attended the Masters of International Studies Program at the University of South Carolina.
Before joining Sprinkles, he served as President and CEO of Hopdoddy Burger Bar, where he led their expansion efforts into other markets and built a team of 100 to 1000 members, including the executive team. Prior to Hopdoddy, Dan was President, Founder, and CEO of Star Restaurant Group, responsible for some of Washington, D.C.’s most acclaimed restaurants, including Red Sage, followed by Penn Quarter’s landmark, Zola. During this time, Dan also developed a multi-unit concept called “Raku, an Asian Diner” Under Dan’s leadership, the restaurants he has led have been the recipients of numerous awards and accolades, including Food & Wine’s “Best Burgers in America”, Esquire Ma Magazine’s “Best New Restaurant” for Red Sage, and Condé Nast Traveler’s Zola as one of the top 75 new restaurants in the world.
Prior to Star, Dan was successful in various positions for respected restaurant groups, including Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, The Peasant Restaurant, the dinner house division of Marriott, and Gilbert/Robinson restaurants. As a consultant, he also worked with industry leaders such as Bloomin’ Brands, Delaware North Companies, Guest Services Inc., Fleming’s Steakhouse, the Harley-Davidson Museum, The Hay Adams, and the Ritz-Carlton Company.
Hop on as we talk to Dan about his journey to success and gain insights into the restaurant industry.
In Conversation With Dan Mesches, President & CEO of Sprinkles
In this episode of Restrocast, we delve into Dan’s journey into the hospitality sector. Mesches was introduced to Sprinkles while consulting in Los Angeles in 2008, urged by a friend to sample the brand’s cupcakes. This encounter sparked a love for the brand, which eventually led him to join the company, co-founded by Candace and Charles Nelson in 2005, as CEO and president in 2017.
Fast-forward five years, and Sprinkles marked a milestone with the launch of its first franchise in Riverton, Utah, ushering in a phase of expansive growth. Today, the company boasts 24 bakeries and 50 cupcake ATMs distributed across the nation, with a strong presence in major airports including Los Angeles International, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Houston Hobby.
Before its franchising journey, the company honed its technological capabilities, refined its flavors, and streamlined store development. Beyond its iconic cupcakes, cakes, and cookies, Mesches reveals that the brand has diversified its product offerings to include items such as chocolates, mini chocolates, cupcake truffles, and baking mixes.
The success story of Sprinkles – The World’s First Cupcake ATM
In the past couple of years, bakeries, regardless of size, have had to pivot to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic’s challenges. These included adapting to new safety standards, dealing with labor shortages, and navigating shifts in marketing and product development.
The keyword here is innovation. It has become vital for bakeries to differentiate themselves in a market saturated with competitors and constrained by the pandemic’s disruption of consumer habits.
Among the pioneers is Sprinkles, touted as the “world’s first cupcake bakery.” Sprinkles has expanded to 24 locations in the U.S., supplemented by numerous cupcake ATMs. These vending machines, launched in March 2012, dispense boxed cupcakes around the clock, seven days a week.
Before convenience became a standard in the baking industry, Sprinkles led the way with its cupcake ATMs. These machines attached to physical stores allowed the chain to reach more customers directly and increase revenues cost-effectively.
Currently, Sprinkles is not only implementing a franchising strategy but also exploring other avenues, including consumer packaged goods (CPG) and new non-cupcake products such as recently introduced truffles based on their most popular cupcake flavors.
Top 10 Takeaways from the Restrocast with Dan Mesches:
- Passion is Key: Mesches emphasizes the importance of having a genuine passion for the restaurant industry. Loving what you do is not only essential for personal fulfillment but also a driving force behind success. Whether it’s the joy of creating culinary masterpieces or the satisfaction of providing exceptional service, passion fuels dedication and commitment.
- Embrace Change: The restaurant landscape is constantly evolving, and successful restaurateurs must be adaptable and open to new ideas and technologies. Mesches highlights the need to embrace change and innovation to stay relevant and meet evolving consumer preferences. From integrating new technologies to reimagining operational strategies, embracing change is a vital aspect of long-term success.
- Trust in Your Team: Hiring talented individuals and empowering them to shine is crucial in the restaurant industry. Mesches emphasizes the importance of building a culture of trust, collaboration, and support. Trusting your team members to deliver outstanding results fosters a positive work environment and creates a strong foundation for success.
- Consistency is Vital: Consistency is a cornerstone of success in the restaurant industry. Guests expect consistent quality in food, service, and the overall experience. Mesches underscores the importance of adhering to recipes, and training programs and maintaining high standards in every aspect of the business. Consistency builds trust, establishes a strong reputation, and keeps guests coming back.
- Customer-Centricity Drives Loyalty: Mesches stresses the significance of genuine interactions and exceptional service in building customer loyalty. Going above and beyond to create personalized experiences and making guests feel valued and appreciated establishes emotional connections. While loyalty programs can be beneficial, they cannot replace the power of authentic engagement and positive guest interactions.
- Technology Enhances the Guest Experience: Integrating technology into restaurant operations can streamline processes, improve efficiency, and provide valuable insights into customer preferences. Mesches shares how Sprinkles has embraced technology to enhance the guest experience.
- Foster a Positive Work Environment: Mesches highlight the importance of creating a supportive and engaging work environment for employees. Investing in employee well-being, growth, and professional development leads to higher job satisfaction, reduced turnover, and ultimately, better service. Building a positive work culture that values and appreciates team members is instrumental in creating a solid and motivated workforce.
- Actively Listen to Customer Feedback: Gathering and actively addressing customer feedback is vital for continuous improvement. Mesches stresses the need for a structured system to manage customer feedback and complaints promptly. Taking customer concerns seriously and acting upon them demonstrates a commitment to customer satisfaction and shows that their opinions are valued.
- Balance Work and Personal Life: Achieving a healthy work-life balance is challenging but essential for overall well-being. Mesches acknowledges his own shortcomings in this area and encourages others to prioritize personal moments and quality time with loved ones. Striving for a balance between professional commitments and personal life leads to greater fulfillment and long-term success.
- Collaboration is Key: The industry is moving towards collaboration and support among establishments. Mesches highlights the importance of working together, sharing knowledge, and helping each other succeed. Collaborative efforts can range from strategic partnerships to community engagement, fostering a more vibrant and innovative restaurant community.
In conclusion, the interview with Dan Mesches provides valuable insights for aspiring restaurateurs and industry professionals. Passion, adaptability, trust, consistency, customer-centricity, technology integration, positive work environments, customer feedback management, work-life balance, and collaboration are key elements to focus on when navigating the dynamic.