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Building While Flying

Jul 1, 2021

The restaurant industry is not for the faint of heart, especially if you’re operating in college towns. When the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the industry, many businesses closed and let their staff go. This week’s guest did the exact opposite. 

Welcome to Building While Flying!

This weekly podcast is brought to you by the Sasha Group. We’re the small-to-medium-sized business arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding, media, and marketing.

In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild;  building the plane while flying.

Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together. 

Bret Oliverio is the owner and CEO of Sup Dogs, a high-energy college town restaurant, with two locations in Greenville and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Sup Dogs was the pipe dream of Bret’s older brother Derek. But after Derek passed away after a sudden accident in 2011, Bret and his wife quit their jobs to carry on Derek’s legacy. After several years of growth, challenges, and success, they faced their toughest challenge yet: the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.

In this week’s episode, Bret tells Katie the origin story of Sup Dogs, and shares what it’s like going into the restaurant industry with no background or experience. Most importantly, Bret breaks down the impact of the pandemic, beyond just the shift to takeout and delivery. He talks about his focus on his employees and staff, and making sure they were taken care of during this difficult time. He says that current staffing problems across the country are multifaceted and not due to just one factor. Lastly, he talks about what he sees in the future of the restaurant and service industry, and shares what other owners can do to stand out and retain great staff.

Other in-flight topics:

  • Sup Dogs’ origin story
  • Operating a restaurant in college towns 
  • Maintaining a strong brand 
  • How a background in radio helps in the restaurant industry
  • Taking care of your employees during the pandemic 
  • Treating and paying your employees fairly and “better than ever” 
  • Challenges of hiring after the pandemic
  • The future of the restaurant and service industry