Have You Eaten Yet?

Sweet Chick Life w/John Seymour

January 21, 2021 Kassata Bollman Episode 12
Have You Eaten Yet?
Sweet Chick Life w/John Seymour
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Today my guest is John Seymour, the CEO and restauranteur of Lil’ Sweet Chick.

He joins us from New York. 

Like all of us in the restaurant industry, John’s business Sweet Chick, a full-service restaurant took a hit in 2020 due to COVID.

But despite dining restrictions he jumped into survival mode and transformed all 

five locations into a new fast casual model.

We discuss that transition, hip hop, business and how they’re all connected.


https://www.sweetchick.com/


https://www.instagram.com/lilsweetchick/?hl=en


https://www.instagram.com/sweetchicklife/?hl=en


https://www.instagram.com/johnseymour_nyc/?hl=en




[[MUSIC]]


I’M KASSATA BOLLMAN. 

TODAY MY GUEST IS JOHN SEYMOUR, THE CEO AND RESTAURANTEUR OF LIL’ SWEET CHICK.

HE JOINS US FROM NEW YORK. 

LIKE ALL OF US IN THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY, JOHN’S BUSINESS, 

SWEET CHICK…..A FULL-SERVICE RESTAURANT…. TOOK A HIT IN 2020….. DUE TO COVID.

BUT DESPITE DINING RESTRICTIONS…….. HE JUMPED INTO SURVIVAL MODE…..AND TRANSFORMED ALL 

FIVE LOCATIONS INTO A NEW FAST CASUAL MODEL…


WE’RE GONNA TALK ABOUT THAT, HIP HOP, BUSINESS..…AND HOW THEY’RE ALL CONNECTED....


SO I’LL START BY ASKING…..AS WE ALWAYS DO….JOHN….  “HAVE YOU EATEN YET?” AND IF YOU HAVE….WHAT DID YOU EAT TODAY?


[[JOHN DISCUSSES]]



COVID & THE PATH FORWARD


SPEAKING OF FOOD….LIL' SWEET CHICK IS KNOWN FOR IT’S CHICKEN & WAFFLES….

BUT…. BEFORE WE DIVE INTO THAT...I WANNA GIVE LISTENERS A QUICK RUNDOWN OF WHAT YOU DEALT WITH IN 2020 & YOUR JOURNEY THROUGH COVID…. TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY.


SO SPRING 2020, MANY NEW YORKERS LEAVE THE CITY….YOU CLOSED FOR A PERIOD OF TIME…..MOST RESTAURANTS DID….I CLOSED MY RESTAURANT FOR ALMOST 3 MONTHS…


WHILE ALL THIS IS HAPPENING, A DECENT UNEMPLOYMENT PACKAGE BECOMES AVAILABLE & A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY ARE SCARED TO RETURN TO WORK…


SO ONCE YOU DECIDE TO REOPEN….YOU COULDN’T HIRE ENOUGH STAFF……AND I DON’T FEEL LIKE ENOUGH PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT THIS…..WE ALL HAD TO TOTALLY RE-THINK OUR BUSINESS….


AND PERSONALLY I HAD NEVER DEALT WITH THIS PROBLEM: 

PEOPLE NOT WANTING TO WORK…..I UNDERSTAND THE FEAR AND WHERE THEY’RE COMING FROM….BUT IT’S JUST NOT SOMETHING THAT I EVER ANTICIPATED…..NOBODY DID….

SO IT’S DURING THIS TIME…... THAT YOU START TURNING TOWARDS MORE OF A FAST CASUAL MODEL….INSTALLING TEMPORARY WALLS, CHANGING THE MENU….ALL WITH THE GOAL OF SURVIVING NOW…. & THRIVING IN THE FUTURE….


JOHN, PLEASE EXPAND ON ALL OF THIS….. & TELL ME ABOUT THE DATA YOU’VE STUDIED & THE PATH YOU SEE FOR FAST CASUAL GROWTH?



[[JOHN DISCUSSES]]




HIP HOP INFLUENCE


ONE OF THE UNIQUE THINGS THAT INTRIGUED ME ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS IS THE BLENDING OF MUSIC & FOOD….THIS COMBINATION PLAYS A LARGE ROLE IN HOSPITALITY….I LOVE WHEN CUSTOMERS GIVE US PROPS ON OUR MUSIC... WHILE THEY’RE DINING WITH US….BECAUSE I TAKE TIME TO CURATE THOSE PLAYLISTS….BUT ALSO FOOD & MUSIC VIBE OFF EACH OTHER…THAT’S A FACT…..


MANY MANY YEARS AGO I WORKED IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY… AS LIL’ KIM’S PERSONAL ASSISTANT….. & ACTUALLY LIVED WITH HER….. DURING THE RECORDING OF HER 3RD ALBUM….SO I GOT TO SEE HOW CONNECTIONS ARE FORMED & BLOSSOM INTO BUSINESS ...WHEN YOU MOVE IN THOSE CIRCLES…..  


YOU PARTNERED WITH NAS….ONE OF THE BEST MC’S OF ALL TIME …..

HOW DID YOU INITIALLY CONNECT WITH HIM…….. & THEN ULTIMATELY DECIDE TO GO INTO BUSINESS TOGETHER?


ALSO, WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE THAT NAS HAS EVER GIVEN YOU?


[[JOHN DISCUSSES]]








LIL' SWEET CHICK’S BRAND


AS A BRAND, LIL' SWEET CHICK SEEMS TO BE MORE THAN FOOD….UNAPOLOGETICALLY SO….AND WHAT I MEAN BY THAT IS……


IN ANY INDUSTRY…..EVERYTHING IS MORE THAN WHATEVER SAID COMPANY IS SELLING….BECAUSE THERE ARE PEOPLE…. WITH OPINIONS BEHIND EVERY BRAND….BUT WE OFTEN FIND OUT ABOUT THOSE OPINIONS LATE…..


YOUR BRAND SEEMS TO PUT INTENT & BELIEFS OUT THERE FROM THE START…..WHICH I APPRECIATE…..


WHEN I HEAR CHICK-FIL-A I THINK  HOMOPHOBIC & TRUMP….TWO THINGS I’M NOT DOWN FOR….

IF I WANT FAST CASUAL CHICKEN I’D RATHER NOT SUPPORT THEM….


PEOPLE DON’T ALWAYS REALIZE THE REALITY….THAT IF YOU’RE BUYING CHICK-FIL-A….REMEMBER THAT THEIR CEO SUPPORTS….. TRUMP’S CAMPAIGNS AND ANTI-LGBTQ ORGANISATIONS…….


AKA HE GIVES HIS MONEY TO THOSE CAMPAIGNS & ORGANIZATIONS……..HE MAKES HIS MONEY FROM CUSTOMERS BUYING HIS CHICKEN…. 


KNOWING THAT LIL' SWEET CHICK IS OUT THERE & ESSENTIALLY THE ANTI-CHICK-FIL-A….I KNOW WHERE I WANT TO SPEND MY MONEY…. IF GIVEN THE OPTION…..PLUS YOU GUYS ARE OPEN ON SUNDAY….  


THERE’S A RECKONING HAPPENING IN AMERICA….SLOWLY….AND LONG OVERDUE….. BUT IT’S HAPPENING….AND WHERE YOU SPEND YOUR MONEY SAYS EVERYTHING…. & IS A VERY POWERFUL ACT….

JOHN, TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR BRAND & WHAT IT STANDS FOR?


[[JOHN DISCUSSES]]












TAKEAWAY:


JOHN, THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORY WITH US …....

I LIKE ENDING…. BY ASKING…. IF THERE’S ANY TAKEAWAY THAT YOU’D LIKE TO LEAVE WITH LISTENERS…... THAT CAN POSITIVELY INFLUENCE THEIR LIVES….. 

IT COULD BE SOMETHING THAT WE JUST DISCUSSED, A PRO TIP…. OR GENERAL LIFE ADVICE THAT YOU LIVE BY ….……..


[[JOHN DISCUSSES]]

…...JOHN WHERE CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU ?


[[JOHN DISCUSSES]]


THANKS FOR LISTENING….AND IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY….... SUBSCRIBE TO “HAVE YOU EATEN YET?” ….WHEREVER YOU GET YOUR PODCASTS….


[[MUSIC]]





COVID & THE PATH FORWARD
HIP HOP INFLUENCE
LIL' SWEET CHICK’S BRAND
TAKEAWAY