Letting the Air Out of Airbnb


  • Ten years ago, Steve Jobs introduced the IPhone and, as he predicted, changed the world. The original device looks almost “cute” alongside the powerhouse cell phones we all use today, but it was a mighty disrupter that upended the music and publishing businesses forever. It even introduced the word disruption to business discourse.
  • Then Travis Kalanick imagined fellow citizens offering each other a lift and Uber disrupted the transportation industry reducing the word “taxi” to an historical reference.
  • After dealing a knock-out punch to the publishing and bookstore industries, Jeff Bezos unleashed Amazon on retailing and mighty department store chains like Macy’s and JC Penney’s could feel the ground give way under their brick and mortar retail palaces.
  • In 2007 Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia decided to blow up an air mattress and rent it out in their apartment in San Francisco to help pay the rent. When Nathan Belcharczyk showed them how to utilize the new IPhone and internet powerhouse combo to turn their air mattress into a business, Airbnb was born and the travel industry was put on notice.



Tight-knit Irish clans are often guided by an invisible hand. When I asked Jack Lessing, the Chairman of Lessing’s, when the family first got into the retail restaurant business he answered, “It wasn’t until 1977. My mother, a devout Irish Catholic, never wanted the family to sell liquor.”

But in 1977, a friend of Jack’s told him that the only bar in Breezy Point, (the now world famous New York Irish Police and Fireman’s community destroyed in Hurricane Sandy) was for sale. The Bay Terrace Bar was the only pub in a community of 3,800 homes occupied by New York’s Firefighters and Policemen.


Only the art of tourist marketing will set your restaurant apart from all the rest. What, however, is the art? Just like looking at a Michelangelo or a Rembrandt to try to define art, let’s look at the greatest tourist marketing artists the restaurant industry has ever seen and see what we can learn from them.

Frank Giuffrida’s Hilltop Steakhouse

During the 1970s and 80s America’s largest restaurant was located in a little out-of-the-way New England town known as Saugus, Massachusetts. Frank Giuffrida’s Hilltop Steakhouse did three times the volume of the nation’s second-largest restaurant, Tavern on the Green, in Manhattan’s Central Park. 



The oldest family-owned and operated food service business in the United States is Lessing’s in Great River, New York. The company was founded by Maxwell Lessing in 1890 and is operated to this day by 15 family members representing three generations of Lessings. This highly diversified company feeds more than 40,000 guests a day at over 100 corporate, educational, country club, and manufacturing plant locations throughout the Northeast. Lessing's also operates thirteen high-end wedding and catering venues, 9 full service restaurants, an historic hotel built in 1751, and has entered into a franchise agreement with Blaze Fast Fire'd Pizza to develop a chain of pizza restaurants. The Lessing family has provided food service to New Yorkers for 125 years without interruption. Both the longevity and the success of this legacy company is unprecedented, especially in the food service and restaurant business.

JUBY TRUE: Juice by True

The story of Juby True begins in the late 1990’s when Sam Fox, the creative force behind the 13 different Fox Restaurant concepts met the world-renowned leader in integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil, at one of Fox's restaurants in Tucson, Arizona. Sam was skeptical of Dr. Weil’s claim that “a restaurant could serve great food that would just happen to be good for you”. After cooking with Dr. Weil at his ranch in Tucson, Fox came to understand how delicious healthy food can be and, on October 27th, 2008, the new partners opened the first True Food Kitchen in Phoenix to great acclaim. 


Job Title:       General Manager

Department:    Executive Administration

Reports To:     Board of Directors


 The General Manager serves as chief executive of S>>>>>>>>> Restaurants and in partnership with the Board, is responsible for the success of the company. The General Manager is responsible to the board for the accomplishment of the company's mission and vision, and the accountability of S>>>>>>>> Restaurants to its diverse constituents.

The Board delegates responsibility for management of the day-to-day operations to the General Manager, and he has the authority to carry out these responsibilities in accordance with the direction and policies established by the Board. 


Why do great chefs often fail when they try to fill both the role of Manager and Head Chef in their own restaurants?

 26.2% of all independent restaurants close after one year. By year two, 45.4% have either closed or changed hands. In the third year, fully 59.7% have gone out of business. To evaluate these statistics as either good or bad is meaningless. Suffice it to say that trying to fill both key positions in your own restaurant will likely include you in the statistics.


My first impression of my first restaurant kitchen was…WOW! It was a bright, organized, almost serene place. The glassware twinkled and the dinner plates squeaked when you ran your finger over the rim. The silverware was stacked in precise military piles and mirrored your image when you looked closely at the bottom of a soup spoon or ladle. The pots hanging overhead were polished to a sheen that made them all appear new even though they were well used daily in this popular restaurant on the shores of the Great South Bay.

As I roamed the kitchen waiting for the chef who had hired me, I was immersed in the distinct smell of fresh food cooking in an immaculately clean kitchen. It reminded me of the soothing aroma that greeted me in the local bread and cake bakery early on a Sunday morning. I knew, at that moment, that I was home.


"Yeah," Spike said, standing in the dining room of Fraunces Tavern on Pearl St. in New York. "This place has been in continuous operation since 1762. That's 252 years, if I'm not mistaken." Now 75 years old, Spike Walton had spent almost 60 years working as a Sous Chef in New York's great hotel kitchens. "I've eaten here many times over the years. I've made it my business to eat in all of New York's legendary restaurants."


We all blame those nasty bankers for the 2008 recession. “They’re always up to some kind of swindle, and they dupe us poor innocents into all kinds of self-destructive behavior.” Restaurateurs usually attach negative emotion to the finance function. They are “intimidated” by the banker, “resent” the needed but unwanted financial partner, “loath” the loan shark, and “despise” the cold-hearted landlord.

If we wish to become successful small business entrepreneurs, we must grow beyond our negative beliefs about borrowing and lending. We must take destructive emotions out of the financing function and go about building our businesses based on positive beliefs about capital and how it can be used effectively to achieve our goals.