In the ever-evolving hospitality business, virtual brands have emerged as a game-changer for restauranteurs. Through data analysis and strategic collaboration, Future Foods empowers restaurant owners to expand their revenue streams and customer bases. During a conversation with Bill Dempseyl, visionary behind Mikhael’s Cafe and Catering, we discussed the challenges and triumphs of culinary entrepreneurship. We also learned how FutureFoods helps Bill’s business unlock additional success!
Founded two decades ago, Mikhael’s Cafe and Catering has transitioned through various owners to arrive where it stands today. Under Bill’s dedicated leadership, the cafe has found its stride as a beloved culinary destination in North Carolina.”We’re about the fifth owner,” Bill explains, a testament to the cafe’s enduring appeal. With unwavering commitment, Bill’s team took the reins of Mikhael’s in 2020. This was a particularly challenging time for the business, as the pandemic began to cast its shadow.
The cafe changed hands just before the onset of COVID-19, creating a tumultuous start. The previous owners, lacking restaurant experience, faltered and closed shop within a month. Bill took over in October 2020, determined to restore the cafe’s reputation and establish a stronger presence in its community.
From Cafe to Catering: The Evolution
While Mikhael’s Cafe has a strong legacy, the business’s catering aspect has played a significant role throughout its history. Bill shed light on this during our discussion, sharing that Mikhael’s catering was initially more substantial than its cafe offerings. However, the previous ownership’s missteps damaged the catering clientele’s trust. Bill and his team strove to mend this reputation, a task that required significant time, dedication, and passion.
The Power of Trust and Quality
Bill emphasizes the importance of rebuilding trust with Mikhael’s customers – an endeavor undertaken with utmost sincerity. “Gaining trust back is just putting out a good product and being friendly,” Bill states. “There’s things that we won’t compromise on. We won’t compromise on our food quality, food safety, or service.” Mikhael’s commitment to quality and service, coupled with its word-of-mouth, proved instrumental in re-establishing the business’s reputation within its community.
Venturing into Virtual Brands
Amidst his commitment to restoring the cafe’s legacy, Bill’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to a partnership with Future Foods. Our virtual brands offer breakfast concepts that complement Mikhael’s cafe and catering business well. With Mikhael’s focus placed primarily on lunch and catering, our virtual breakfast brands ensure business flows consistently throughout the day.
Treating Virtual Brands As Mikhael’s Own
“I mean, we treat the virtual kitchens as one of our own kitchens. The only difference to us is the orders are coming on a different printer.“Bill Dempsey, Owner of Mikhael’s Cafe and Catering, Greensboro, NC
Here’s how Bill describes Mikhael’s relationship with Future Foods: “We signed on, as it’s an extra revenue stream. One of my people was just like, well, what happens when, you know, it’s too busy? And it was like, well, we think we hire more people. That’s the avenue we wanna go down. We want it to be too busy to where we have to add more people. You know, getting people to buy into that part of [Future Foods] was pretty fun.“
“May have been like one or two ingredients that we had to bring aboard,” says Bill, discussing Future Foods’ menus. “When we had to bring an ingredient in for one concept, we learned how to integrate it into our menu. Absolutely. Instead of bringing in an ingredient for one item, we’re gonna figure out how to use it across the board.”
Being A Good Person is Good for Business
For Bill, it’s about creating a positive environment for his team, nurturing their growth, and fostering a family-like atmosphere. “I won’t treat any of these employees differently than how I’d want someone to treat one of my own kids. I go out of my way for my employees to make sure that they’re taken care of, they’re happy.”
Bill’s approach to management is rooted in treating his employees with respect, kindness, and empathy. As a boss, Bill says “I take all the negative things from the people I’ve worked for. And I’m like: ‘I don’t wanna be that person.’ I mean, at the end of the day, you have to be more about people than money.” This ethos not only ensures employee satisfaction, but also reflects the cafe’s reputation and emphasis on building great customer experiences.
An Unexpected Tip for Success
Bill’s kindness extends beyond his employees and customers. “We actually also supply bottled water for all the DoorDash and Uber Eats drivers that come in,” says Bill. “When the drivers get orders coming in, they’ll see [that some are] for us. They’re more likely to respond to us quicker than other people, just because we’re nicer to them. That also gets you better drivers. Someone who will take care of your order.”
“It’s simple things like that that make life a little bit easier. If the order gets jacked, then the person’s gonna come back at us about it rather than the driver. You have to do what you can to get the best drivers.”
A Passionate Visionary
Bill’s perseverance, willingness to try new revenue streams, and strategic kindness is directly related to Mikhael’s Cafe and Catering’s success. The business continues to shine as a beacon of culinary excellence in Greensboro. Through its partnership with Future Foods and its commitment to quality and innovation, Mikhael’s has developed an enthusiastic customer base. Bill’s story reminds us that behind every successful restaurant is a passionate visionary, a dedicated team, and a supportive community.