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Mighty Quinn's Case Study

Marketing

NOV 08, 2022

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The Interview

The Transcript

[Olivia] Hi everyone. Today we're at Mighty Quinn’s in the Upper East Side to talk to Micha Magid, their CEO, about how they're growing the brand and how they're using Lunchbox. If you've ever heard the words “burnt ends”, they've always been associated in New York with the amazing food here at Mighty Quinn’s. Let's go inside.

[Micha] Hi, I'm Micha, Co-CEO of Mighty Quinn's Barbecue. In front of us is my favorite Mighty Quinn's dish, spicy Chicken Wings. 

[Olivia] They look very delicious. So Mighty Quinn, how long have we been in business? What are we doing? How did we start? 

[Micha] So we were actually a popup in Brooklyn - weekends only. So our pitmaster, Hugh, he would pull up in Williamsburg and had a mobile pit hitched to the back of his pickup and just started smoking briskets and pork. You know, at the time I think there was a lack of authentic, legit barbecue, and it's one of those universally loved food categories.

So when he flipped that pit open, the magical aromas just escaped and the crowds came in droves. And we said, okay, this is interesting. Maybe there's something here. So that was 2011, and then in 2012 we opened our first flagship location in the East side. And there's three partners, myself, Chris, and Hugh. Then three months later, we were covered in the New York Times dining section - and then the whole world exploded. And I guess the rest is history in the making. 10 years. 

[Olivia] That's amazing. 

[Micha] Yeah, it's been fun. 

[Olivia] What was your first like, oh shit, what are we doing?

[Micha] You know, I think everyone, whether they're like starting a company or you know, opening their first restaurant has that. Like they call their friend and they're like, I don't know what I'm doing moment. 

[Olivia] Do you remember your first? 

[Micha] Um, it was probably the night that the New York Times story came out because I was still in hedge fund land, you know. Hugh was at the restaurant and I got a text like, “hey, we got this, this review,” and he sent me the link.

The next day, lines down the block. We’re running out of food at like seven o'clock. And it was a huge learning curve, but obviously a welcome problem.

And that, that was probably the oh shit moment for all of us. Because like, you know, the pop-up markets were always crazy, like just basically serving barbecue until you sold out every single day. But the restaurant was more of something the local community had to find. There was less novelty involved with a brick and mortar restaurant.

But then like boom, all this press hit and it was just like, okay, barbecue's on the map. People are digging it and we're in Manhattan.

[Olivia] Right. That was like a new thing. 

[Micha] Yeah. At least for us. We're not in Brooklyn anymore. You're in the big Apple. Everything gets a pass in Brooklyn - like the artisanal items and you know, very, very nuanced food categories.

But in New York, in general, I think if you come with a broad category like barbecue - there's gotta be some real teeth there. There's gotta be some, you know, expertise and love that goes into it. And I think that all came together well for us. 

[Olivia] How have you come out of the pandemic so far? What are some things that you're looking forward to as a brand? Like what's your kind of growth plan in the next three to five years? How did you have that vision while going through the depths of Covid? 

[Micha] Well, you know, the pandemic was obviously a terrible period for the world. For us it was almost like a cleansing of the company. We were forced to kind of break the business down to its foundation and understand what elements were core and what elements were kind of nice to have, not need to have. And just through doing that, we kind of understood how we can maximize value through utilizing resources in a more productive way.

So coming out of the pandemic, we kind of maintained that - that philosophy and having our digital business already set up pre-covid really helped because as New York City dining rooms closed, the team didn't miss a beat because bags just went out the door instead of on the table.

As we all know, that Covid really just kind of pulled forward a lot of demand trends. Delivery, off premise consumption, all that good stuff. And for us, like what we're excited about now is exploring new channels of revenue generating. So for example, we're opening in Tampa Bay, so that's a new revenue channel for us. And I think it's in a phenomenal market. We have a great location on a corner with great visibility. That will really validate the capabilities of the business - going through this new channel that's also doing in-house and delivery at the same time.

So really maximizing what you can do in, in four walls. 

[Olivia] Oh, wow. What's your personal go-to game food? 

[Micha] Well, I mean, typically football is a big barbecue food, right? People like eating with their hands. But we're having wings, ribs, like these are like. So I think like finger foods with football - I mean, what's more American than that? 

[Olivia] Right. It's the fourth of July. It's a beautiful combination. 

[Micha] Exactly. It's a beautiful combination.

[Olivia] Who are you outside of work when you're not working? What’s keeping you in New York? What keeps you sane? Like who are you? 

[Micha] That's a good question. I feel like living in the city, it's a very constant noise, riddle, kind of pressure-cooker type of environment. And I feel like getting into nature is like my decompression. So I have kids now, so you know, driving upstate, going into the woods, getting dirty, chopping trees, that cool stuff. Doing the thing - old school savage, bare grills kind of stuff. 

Without scaling down mountains and things that will get you killed. 

[Olivia] Yeah. 

[Micha] Yeah. Maybe lose a finger. 

[Olivia] You have some kids - what does the kids menu at home look like on the Mighty Quinn’s menu?

[Micha] So the kids - they have a couple favorites. Um, spare ribs and sweet potato casserole. 

[Olivia] Oh yeah. Hot take - so not the mac and cheese?

[Micha] No, I know you would think that, right? My kids used to down the mac and cheese. Now they're pallets are developing, I guess. Somehow pizza is the mainstay.

Yeah. So, but you have to be careful with the order because if you put the sweet potato casserole first, that will be housed. And then there's no rib room, so you don't get the protein in. 

[Olivia] Oh. So it's almost like feeding a pet. You have to, you have to portion control. 

[Micha] Right. 

[Olivia] And then do they make the kid dishes where they have to take the layers off? Like with my dog, like the dog has to hit the thing for more food. Like instead of a bento box for kids, it's like the first layer and then second layer, then the third layer. 

[Micha] No, we could start one. That's a good idea. That's a good idea. We actually do dirty fries with the meat on top of the fries. So like if you wanted your kids to really get into the protein before the fries, you have to kind of dig your way through those. It's like a kid disco fry. 

[Olivia] What really sparked kind of your eye on Lunchbox? Why was Lunchbox the platform that you decided to go with, to kind of help you ride through the rest of the pandemic?

[Micha] It's a good question. So, I guess before we onboarded with Lunchbox, we had a native ordering platform and then we had a loyalty platform. And they didn't talk to each other. So the loyalty just lived with the app and like native web was like its own thing. So we knew that that was not a sustainable dynamic.

Like they all had to kind of be integrated. People who oscillated from app to web needed to benefit with their loyalty program. So that was one of the main features actually that attracted us to Lunchbox because you guys had that. And, you know, we also saw this world where all these little modules were integrated, but they were all disparate.

Lunchbox had the functions that we needed - so app, loyalty, catering, web. For us, it seemed like a natural transition to test a platform like that versus dealing with all these different service providers that didn't necessarily talk to each other.

[Olivia] Micha, thank you so much for chatting with us. 

[Micha] Absolutely. 

[Olivia] I really, really can't thank you enough, on behalf of pretty much anyone that ever worked on 37th and Broadway - that got your burnt ends, which I ate pretty much twice a week for about three years. Thank you so much for building an incredible establishment, an incredible community, and for sitting down with Lunchbox today.

We're so excited to watch you grow. I can't wait to fly to Tampa and drive my rental car through your drive through. I'm so excited for your next chapter. 

[Micha] Thank you. And I'm going to pass on your thank you - it’s going to move through me to the whole team because they're all creators of the burnt ends.

I appreciate it. Thank you for coming by.

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