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Interview with Joe from Joey’s in Palm Springs

Joey’s in Palm Springs.

With over 2/3 of all restaurants in the United States according to the American Restaurant Association are either failing or struggling.

What does it take to be successful and what does it take to be successful even when you’re in a resort city?

Find out today on Reservations when we speak to the successful restaurateur of Joeys in Palm Springs.




Jeff Harrison [00:01] : Good morning everyone. I’m Jeff Harrison with reservations and behind, I mean way behind the camera is Andrew. He’s back on assignment back in the office. They are doing some work. Thanks Andrew for doing that. Today I’m joined by a really good guy and I gotta tell Ya, he hobbled in here to make this happen. Somehow he’s hurt his knee. We’re going to find out about that here in a minute, but his name is Joe and he owns a place called Joey’s. And tell us a little bit about that. First of all, welcome to the show.

Joe [00:27] : Oh, thanks for having us along.

Jeff Harrison [00:29] : So tell us a little bit about Joey’s and how it came to be and you know, your interest in the restaurant industry itself.

Joe [00:36] : Yeah. So, Joey actually, was opened in January of 2016, so I’ve been here for about two and a half years. It took about six months to build out. So we started the earlier July end of July of 2015. And the idea behind it was really to sort of create a space that was sort of, had what you don’t often find, I think in one place really strong coffee program, specialty coffee program coupled with really, really good bistro, particular our menu and our style of food, tends to [inaudible] towards sort of cal med, sort of California’s Mediterranean. And that’s really what we wanted to try and do is to marry those two really strong programs and functions together. And that’s how Joey came to be and we do coffee, beer and wine, breakfast, lunch, brunch. We don’t do dinner. So we just focus on those elements and do the best that we can.

Jeff Harrison [01:33] : Well, tell us a little bit about you. I mean, do you come from a food background or did you just had a desire to open up a restaurant? I mean, you know, it’s a tough business.

Joe [01:40] : So my partner and I, we actually used to own a restaurant in San Francisco, for many, many years. And it was really more my partner than myself. For 26, 27 years in downtown San Francisco and so we had that back frame and for me, I have a backstory in really in public interest law and public policy and philanthropy, but I’ve always done food. And for a little while preceding this, I worked for a large scale caterer in San Francisco and then I opened my own small boutique catering company and so I was doing food. And I worked in a couple of small restaurants. So the food has always been there, but for me it was never the foreground, it was sort of the back passion. And then when we relocated down to Palm Springs permanently, we’d been looking for a space and an opportunity to kind of create this idea. And this is what happened. We came up with Joey.

Jeff Harrison [02:38] : Well, every time I’ve been in here and I’ve been here like two or three times lately is, it’s always busy, but yet it always feels like real intimate.

Joeys Palm Springs

Joe [02:46] : Yeah. You know, we’ve created a space I think that really sort of provides for both of those things where people can come and gather and develop a sense of community, but also can have really much smaller, more intimate gatherings as well. And it’s casual enough that it doesn’t really put anybody off. We have this courtyard, this beautiful courtyard outside and the space inside is sort of designed for people to kind of gather both in small groups and sort of, and in sort of larger groups as well.

But that was sort of the idea was to kind of create a space that felt like it had a center that felt comfortable that people feel, is inviting and, you know, it’s a fast-casual concept. So it’s, you come to a counter, you make place an order and we run everything out to you so you can come and have a cup of coffee or you can come and have a full meal, you know, across three courses. And that’s totally fine with us. And so it gives people a range of options in terms of how they want to have their experience.


Jeff Harrison [03:44] : Now this show is all about restaurants and it’s really geared towards restaurant owners and what makes them successful. And I just recently read an article from the National Restaurant Association. It was a little bit, I guess, so [inaudible] they said there’s about a million restaurants in the United States right now. And about a third of those are, excuse me, about 700,000 of those are individually owned. They’re not franchises.

And they said about a third of those won’t make it in the first year. And then the other third, they’re struggling. So like almost 50 percent are either struggling or going out of business because the fact, you’ve had 26, 27 years now plus here have been successful. Tell us, you know, what is it that you feel makes a restaurant have that longevity in that success?

Joe [04:32] : Well, first of all, it’s good to have defied the odds, at least initially with Joey. So I’m grateful for that. Fingers crossed and I’m thankful. But you know, it’s interesting and even having the restaurant experience in San Francisco and having that behind us, you know, there’s a lot of different things that you just really have to understand about where you are sort of place, position, category market, understanding the dynamics of the space and the market, understanding literally the dynamics of a brick and mortar space and what it has to do.

And the truth of the matter is because I would come out with a background of both sort of public interest law and public policy in philanthropy. I’m very data-driven. So I tend to be more responsive than anything to what the data tells me.

And I looked at sort of as much longitudinal data as I can get and as much as you can get into and a half or three years. But also kind of what I see sort of around me and paying attention to the context of the environment.

In California, I think for the California restaurant tours out there and others is a very unique, kind of a highly kind of a very rigorous regulatory environment and I’m sort of understanding that and the constraints that that presents going into this, helps lot. It’s still above all of that that won’t necessarily guarantee sort of longevity or sort of success or resourcefulness, but it helps you plan better. And I’m a big planner so, that’s what we try and do.

Jeff Harrison [06:11] : Well, I think something that, and we noticed it in our business because we market for restaurants and the more data we have, the smarter we can be with our client and a lot of times you know, we can actually provide information to the restaurant owner that maybe they weren’t even aware of data like, you know, Male, female, the breaking of that, what’s your busy days or things like that. So I think that’s a great takeaway.

Share with us, if you will. What is your key to working in the Palm Springs? Because it’s much different than San Francisco. I mean, you’ve got those [inaudible] here we are in July and you’re open, but yet you still have things going on. Tell us what makes that unique and how you’re doing this.

Joe [06:51] : Well, you know, we have a commitment and it’s interesting when you have a shop in this particular category, which is this hybrid of specialty coffee and restaurant, coffee shops in particular, there’s like height, less density among your clients and your guests, right? If you’re not there and available or people have to hold bandwidth in their head that they’re, you’re not open like six days a week or seven days a week and you’re closed on this day or that day, you know, they find other sorts of outlets.

So we have a commitment to our guests. I think that really leads sort of, some of our operating principles. So that’s one thing. And service is a big part of that. But I think the other thing is that, again, just having, sort of being responsive to what the data from the previous two summers suggests to us really informs how we do this.

And just what hours are the best and what hours make the most sense where we can be the most resourceful in terms of our resources and you know, sort of being responsive to what a summer in a seasonal market, which is what Palm Springs is, requires and what we’re capable of. If every month in Palm Springs were like every month in L.A. or San Francisco, that would be one thing, but you basically have in Palm Springs, maybe seven, maybe eight months to kill it.

And then you have to really cross-subsidized or you know, carry those four or five months that represent what we call the offseason in the summer. And that’s what you wind up having to plan for. And for us, that kind of planning means that we remain open in the summer. We scale where we need to scale, and that we just continue forward and then keep on delivering what we think is our core product, the best sort of boutique coffee that we can manage the best food product that we can deliver and then the best service that we can.

Jeff Harrison [08:45] : We’re in such an instantaneous world. I mean, I used to bring big cameras out here and you know, high tech equipment and now we’re shooting stuff on the iPhone. So my question is, how do you deal with that instantaneous of the, and it sounds like with great product, great service, consistency. Tell me if I’m missing anything, that what happens is now customers when they leave here because we’re so quick to take a picture or leave a review, does that drive that at all Joe?

Joeys Palm SpringsJoe [09:16] : Yeah, actually, just like everything, we’ve even used cycles, everything actually happens much faster now. And we get people coming in all of the time actually with phones or some kind of device and saying I want to order this and it’s literally a picture of the food or a coffee or latte art or something like that. So you have to be both mindful of and responsive to I think that type of information cycle which is rapid and fast, but not just informed by a responsive to you, but you actually have to manicure it.

So we actually manicure you actually have to sort of control the narrative in that environment as much as you can. So we’re on Instagram and we’re on Facebook and we do a lot to try and actually I’m sort of a showcase I think or kind of share our product in the way that we think it’s best sort of suited and the way that we think it’s sort of best represented.

And fortunately for us, I think the good thing is, is that if you’re able to take a look at some of our sort of user-generated content and the other platforms, whether it’s yelp or TripAdvisor or Google, we’ve been very fortunate in that people have been really kind and the kind of user-generated content that our guests are developing out there and those platforms is really good. And it’s been a good driver if you leave moves people I think to the shop. So that’s been helpful.

Jeff Harrison [10:50] : I think that’s great. You know, one of the things that I noticed when we were looking at how impacting our reviews, and this was a surprise for me, is 94 percent of the patrons that go out to dinner, we’ll make a decision based on the reviews and other reviews or higher five started versus four stars. They’re willing to pay more. So it’s like, I think that’s something that is really important in today’s environment.

Like I said, you know, I could leave here and leave a review and immediately everybody sees that. So I think that’s great. Well, first of all, I want to thank you so much for joining us. Tell us how people can find you and before we leave now I know you said it’s the type of food, but tell us again about what can they expect them to come to Joey’s and how can we find you?

Joe [11:31] : Yeah. So, what you should really expect when you come to Joey’s really the best in Boutique and specialty coffee that the Coachella Valley and Palm Springs has to offer. We use a roaster out of the San Francisco Bay area called equator and they’re really, really beautiful and really, really consistent and then the best and sort of the California Mediterranean cuisine that you can find for both breakfast, lunch or Brunch and coupled with beer and wine and what we hope is the best service, sort of tying all of that together.

And then the best way to find us is to find us either on Instagram, Joey Palm Springs or on Facebook at Joey’s, yelp or google actually that have us front and center. When you actually look for places like ours breakfast or Brunch in Palm Springs. We usually are optimized close to the top. So yeah.

Jeff Harrison [12:18] : Well, those of you listening, if you’re in that industry, I think you were some great takeaways here that they don’t seem like there’s any big trickery. It’s just simple fundamentals, you know, good service, great food, try to put out the best product and then be consistent with your hours. I noticed there’s a, I don’t want to put pointed out, but there’s a restaurant that normally I see that they’re open and now they’re close to the end. I don’t even know why yesterday, when I was down here, they’re open. Today they’re closed. It’s kind of strange. Every time I’ve been here it’s open.

Joe [12:46] : We’re pretty consistent. We don’t like any surprises. And again, I think if people have to hold in their head bandwidth that something’s open on are not closed or there’s sort of an irregularity and I think what their expectations are, I think it interrupts their experience. And so for us, we just try and keep it as consistent as possible.

Jeff Harrison [13:02] : I love it. Well, this is. I tell you what, Joe has brought the fire today. He’s given us some great information. I can tell by his back and I’ve got a dear friend who also is an attorney in San Francisco. Very soft spoken, but boy he knows information, data, gathered data. If you’re not gathering data on your business every day, you’re kind of flying by the seat of your pants. And you know, what we find is all of a sudden, let’s say for instance, this particular day in history for the last two years it’s been a little bit slower, so it’s a little bit slow. We don’t hit the panic button, like freaking out. Where did he know that? And we probably already somewhat planned for it. So go out there and make sure you’re collecting that data. Again, thanks everybody for joining us. I’m Jeff Harrison with reservations. Joe, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Joe [13:42] : We really appreciate it too. Thank you.

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