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Episode Spotlight

GMs and Chefs, Moms and Dads

Parenthood in Restaurants

In this episode, three moms and two dads from all over the restaurant industry give their perspectives on one of the greatest challenges to modern work-life balance: restaurant work and parenthood. We discuss the toughest parts of being a restaurant industry parent, as well as the unexpected joys that come with it.

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All Episodes


How Ming Tsai Gives Back to the Staff at Blue Dragon

By providing health insurance and adding a 2% kitchen appreciation fee to each bill — and by saying "thank you" every day — Ming Tsai shows the staff of his restaurant that he cares.


Ashish Alfred on Sobriety, His 65 Staff Members, and the Guest Experience

Ashish Alfred is the chef-owner of three restaurants in the Baltimore area. He’s also over five years sober and extremely open about his lifelong struggle with mental health.


Renovating Restaurants

We spoke to Dala Al-Fuwaires, a restaurant designer at FJI Design, about how to renovate a restaurant on a budget, and how to build your restaurant brand. Then, we also chatted with two restaurateurs — Alex Garcia and Steven Darwin — who’ve recently built out new locations of their restaurants and have some lessons to share.

Staff Series #1

Irene Li Constantly Trains Her Staff, and They Stick Around

Irene Li, the founder of Mei Mei in Boston, MA, incorporates constant training into the jobs at Mei Mei: staff learn the finances behind the restaurant thanks to open-book management, they run peer trainings on everything from herbs to pronouns, and they also get external trainings, like one on service for those with alzheimers and dementia. She invests in her staff by teaching them everything she knows, and encouraging them to teach each other, and it pays off — average employee tenure at Mei Mei is 2-3 years.

Staff Series #2

How Ciro Fodera is Breaking Down the Front- and Back-of-House Divide

From the moment Ciro Fodera, chef de cuisine of Capo South Boston, joined the team as sous chef three years ago, he's been hell-bent on demolishing the front- and back-of-house divide, and on building a cohesive, happy team. Thanks to his efforts, he hasn’t had to replace a cook in over a year.

Staff Series #3

Erin Wade on Creating a Safe, Inclusive Restaurant Work Environment

Erin Wade got famous in the industry for how she and her staff created a system to deal with harassment, but Wade is also know for her commitment to making Homeroom a truly diverse work environment: more than 70% of the company’s leaders are women and people of color.

Staff Series #4

When Hiring, Steven Darwin Goes With His Gut

Steven Darwin opened the first location 27 years ago with his wife and co-founder, Isabel, and since then, Darwin and his team of managers have learned a lot about hiring. He says that you can train someone to do just about any job in a cafe, but you can’t train personality — and you can usually tell within a few minutes if someone is right for the job.

Staff Series #5

How Leslie Ciccone Retains Staff at (swah-rey) with Constant Kindness

Leslie Ciccone's whole business model is centered around kindness, and she aims to create a work environment for young women that’s supportive and challenging, and that sets a standard of how they should let themselves be treated by an employer.

Staff Series #6

Logan Hostettler Uses Cross-Training and Communication to Keep Staff Happy

Logan Hostettler is the owner of 1894 Lodge in New Washington, Indiana, a town of around 700 people. Hostettler heavily cross-trains his kitchen staff so that everyone knows how to do everything. He also told me about how talking about mental health openly is crucial to the success of his team, and how he’s been able to watch a lot of young people on his staff rise to the occasion when given new responsibilities.

Staff Series #7

Ryan Egozi Hires for Team Culture First

Ryan Egozi told us about how he and his team realized that it’s best to hire people whose values align to that of your team, and then train them to do the work well. He also discussed the two different profit-sharing programs at SuViche and other ways they show appreciation to their staff.


Eric Cacciatore of Restaurant Unstoppable

Eric Cacciatore, host of Restaurant Unstoppable, grew up in his parents’ restaurant, worked in a few more, and then spent some time as a commercial pilot and a winemaker’s assistant. He’s interviewed over 600 restaurant professionals, and he’s learned a thing or two in the process.


Joanne Chang, Charles Bililies, and Emiliana Puyana on Funding a Restaurant

We spoke with Joanne Chang – whose bakery, Flour, has expanded to eight locations across Boston – and Charles Bililies – CEO of Souvla, a four-location Greek-American restaurant in San Francisco – about how they gained funding for their now very successful restaurants. We also spoke with Emiliana Puyana, a program manager at La Cocina, a culinary business incubator that helps women and immigrants start businesses, about alternative paths to funding that are available to just about anyone.


Parenthood in Restaurants

In this episode, three moms and two dads from all over the restaurant industry give their perspectives on one of the greatest challenges to modern work-life balance: restaurant work and parenthood. We discuss the toughest parts of being a restaurant industry parent, as well as the unexpected joys that come with it.


Restaurant Architect Justin Alpert on Accessibility and Hospitality

Justin Alpert is a restaurant architect who is passionate about making restaurants more accessible to all customers. His twin brother, and frequent dining companion, is blind, so Alpert has learned all about the design elements that make or break the experience of a guest with a disability.


Gratuity-Free Restaurants

On two opposite corners of the US, two neighborhood restaurants are currently thriving on a gratuity-free, profit-sharing model. In this episode, we’ll hear all about what it’s like to work at Juliet, in Somerville, MA, and at barcito, in Los Angeles. We’ll dive into the challenges of implementing this model, as well as the joys of gratuity-free work, including stable income and benefits like health insurance, the motivation of profit-sharing, and a smaller front and back of house divide.


Addiction in the Restaurant Industry

Today we’ve got an episode about addiction in the restaurant industry. While alcoholism affects people in every line of work, it’s particularly prevalent in the restaurant world, and the surging opioid crisis has also made its way into the kitchens and dining rooms of our industry. We spoke to three people who each have a different experience with these issues, and we learned about the barriers restaurant workers face in getting treatment and living sober. We also got some perspectives on what restaurant owners and managers can do to create safer environments and help employees struggling with addiction.


Danny Meyer and the Value of Emotional Intelligence in Restaurants

Danny Meyer spoke to us about the importance of focusing on how you make your guests feel, why Union Square Hospitality Group hires for empathy, the future of the restaurant industry, the necessary combination of tech and touch, and how his restaurants are working to combat the industry's systemic problems.
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