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About The Episode

Welcome to another enlightening episode of the Food Service Growth Show! In this session, we dive deep into the strategies that have propelled the success of Urban Italian Group. 

In this episode, Kristjan Longar, the Chief Operating Officer of the group, joins Carl Jacobs, the CEO of Apicbase and the Host of the Food Service Growth Show. Get ready for an eye-opening discussion on how to grow a restaurant business, the intricacies of restaurant management, and the challenges and successes of the ever-evolving food and beverage industry.

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Carl: Hello, I’m Carl Jacobs and I’m co-founder and CEO of Apicbase. At Apicbase, we are building the world’s best food and beverage management platform. But in this podcast series, it’s all about finding answers on how to grow and scale your food service business. I’m talking to numerous experts and industry professionals who are passionate about building a healthy food service industry. Join me on this fascinating journey of entrepreneurship in food.

Carl: Hello, everybody, and welcome back to the Food Service Grow Show podcast. Today I have a guest from Sweden. It’s Kristjan Longar, and he’s the chief operating officer of the Urban Italian Group, which is known for their brands Basta and Florentine. Hello, Kristjan.

Kristjan: Hello Carl, thanks for having me on the podcast!

You’re very welcome. And my first question, as always, is who is Kristjan? And what led Kristjan to being the COO of the urban Italian group?

Kristjan: Well, Kristjan Longar is a 31 year old guy from Slovenia who, by total coincidence, moved to Sweden seven years ago. And this is where also my hospitality career started as well. I’m a proud father of a one year old son who absolutely loves to make mess with the food. And I was also a former volleyball player until the age of 22. I love any kind of sports and I also enjoy the food. Any kind of food, not only Italian, although this is kind of an everyday menu thing.

Carl: I hear you say you’re a former volleyball player. Is that on a certain professional level?

Kristjan: I think I just realized that I’m not going to be able to make a living at that age. So I kind of redirected my focus on something else. But yeah, we had been champions in all the junior leagues back in Slovenia. So proud about the boys and the team that we had back in the day.

Carl: That’s great memories, I hear. And also, are you a very competitive guy? Is this something that you carry on today?

Kristjan: I would say it’s following me daily, that the competitive part is there with me for sure. And I think it’s just a plus in this industry for sure. 

Carl: It’s a plus I was going to ask, how do you experience being competitive in this industry? And is there anything that is useful in terms of analogy between sports and the food and beverage industry?

Kristjan: Well, I would say just like the sports, that gives you a fast thinking. You need to make decisions in no time. And when it comes to competitiveness, also, my two other partners in business, Robert and Brazer, both of them, were football players. So I think it’s just a group of three very competitive guys who are spreading this energy inside of the company. And it’s just as much that it’s about the hospitality, the guests, as much as it’s also, we want to grow and we want to achieve something great that will be definitely remembered by Urban Italian.

Carl: Fantastic. Yeah. And is this competitiveness something that you want to embed in your company culture? Is everybody competitive in a way, or is this something that just the three of you have?

Kristjan: No, definitely not. I mean, the top management level, for sure. Some of them have it. We are trying to spread around. So in terms of competitiveness, to push one extra mile, so to say, whenever it’s hard not to give up. That’s definitely from the sports. But when it comes to the waiter or to the chef, I’m not going to push him that he needs to be competitive. I want him to do his job responsibility to the best possible extent, make sure that the guests are happy and that the food tastes well. And I think that he did his job to the best.

Okay, thank you very much for that short introduction about yourself. Let’s move into Urban Italian group. I mean, can you explain how it started and where are you today with the business?

Kristjan: So, Urban Italian group, it all started in Falun back in 2016. Still, we consider ourselves as a relatively young organization. Falun is a mid-sized city of Sweden. Founder Brazer Bozlak has been the one who established the concept. He came from his studies in the United States, back to Sweden, and understood that there’s a Lack of this home cooking cool vibe that he has seen back in San Francisco. While in Sweden, it was more like, okay, there are established concepts such as O’Learys, Pinchos, Pitchers. Everything is the same. And then you have those small family owned restaurants that were kind of disappearing, so to say. And this is how he decided, okay, I’m going to go with Italian food. Everyone loves Italian food. They were also in the family before they had Italian restaurants. But this time with a cool vibe, cool interior, make it different than anyone else had done in Sweden until that day. The core of the concept has been, obviously, the food. And that has been since then. And it still is.

Pasta Fresca, pizza neapolitan, pizza neapolitan with great 72 hours fermentation. Making sure that we are importing great Italian ingredients, from the tomato sauce to the mozzarella and so on. While pastas had always been with a touch to the local market in order to make the locals happy. So if they like the cream, we need to make sure that there’s something with the cream, so to say. Since then, the concept of the food is still the same, except we improved the dishes drastically while the interior wise and the vibe has changed a lot.

So we went from all the restaurants looking the same towards making sure that each and every restaurant that we are building looks completely different. And it’s something that not only Sweden, not only Scandinavia, but people in the world haven’t seen before. This is something that gives the locals the local touch with the food that they want and creates the vibe that it’s hard to beat, obviously, in the combination with the great authentic service, so to say. So that’s a little bit about the Urban Italian group.

Carl: Yeah. If I may pick in on this one, it’s a very interesting concept. And you mentioned that every restaurant looks differently. How do you scale a business like that? Because, of course, the reason why most of the businesses look alike is because it is a very simple, let’s say, thing to do. And to say this table, we are going to buy in hundreds instead of tens, and then we scale and we save costs in that way. How do you do that when nothing looks alike?

Kristjan: Well, there’s just extra hours that we work, I believe so. Our interior design team works extra hard, and it takes extra hours to source all those secondhand interior details from Italian flea markets. That’s basically it. We do have an idea of what we want to create, all of us. We love the interior, colors, and we like to play around it. So a little bit of every new project is a gift, because we can do something amazing, something that no one else has ever seen before, in a place that could look boring. But all of a sudden it’s going to be there for 10-15 years. And the most important thing is, I believe, that we are thinking long term.

So this is not something that we want to sell in 5-10 years time, but we want to own it. We want to build a great hospitality group, and that includes that If we want to be competitive in ten years time, we need to create something today that is going to be hard to beat in ten years time. And that can only be achieved if you do it genuinely and authentically, so to speak.

Yes, we’ve talked a little bit about the start of the Urban Italian group. Today there are eight venues.

Kristjan: That’s correct. We have six pasta restaurants, one Florentine, and we’re just one month away from establishing the Umeo, which is going to be our northeast restaurant until this day, which we are extremely excited about, very much looking forward, and I think it’s going to be another great opening, for sure.

Carl: All right, and what’s ambition? Where do you want to end in ten years time or not end, but where do you want to be in ten years time in terms of size, how many restaurants, how many brands? What’s the idea? What’s the plan?

Kristjan: I understand. So for the moment being we do have a clear plan when it comes to both Basta and Florentine. Basta is a well established brand in Sweden. The idea is to start a restaurant in mid-sized cities of Sweden and larger ones, so to say, which gives us a position of 18 restaurants, approximately 18 to 20. The capacity of the current team or organization, so to say, is two Basta restaurants a year, perhaps three. Once we upgrade and acquire more talent, that’s going to be able to help us out. Meaning that in five to six years time, we believe that we are done when it comes to the expansion of Basta restaurants in Sweden.

Whereas Florentine as a more upscale concept in comparison to the Basta, is aimed at capitals of Scandinavia to start with, we did establish it in Stockholm and has been extremely well accepted by guests. Next stop is definitely either Oslo or Copenhagen. And then it’s also Helsinki as a future wish, so to say. So that would be the Basta and Florentine expansion. And in between all of that, we absolutely love Stockholm. It kind of grew on us. We are not from Stockholm, but it’s starting to grow on us. We know that there is with a similar vibe potential for a great Spanish concept, which is definitely one of our priorities whenever we are able to get a really nice place with a good position. So that can be the thing.

Carl: And what’s going to be in between?

Kristjan: Really hard to say. The business environment is changing all the time. But for sure there is a growth strategy inside of the organization and the headquarter team. And if you talk about growth, you also need a lot of capital.

Carl: I mean, is this external capital you’re using or is it organic growth?

Kristjan: All of it is organic growth. So basically we have zero debt. Whenever we are building our restaurants, we are investing from our own earnings, our own profit, so to say, it has been a challenging game from the beginning. But I would say like this, whoever has a strong concept is able to charge more because people are also willing to spend extra on the experience. Not on the pizza, but they pay for the experience. And having that said, with a good cost control and a good sales strategy, and also restaurants being positioned on top spots with a strong concept as it is, we had been able to accumulate a certain amount of capital that is now serving basically as our own money to invest in all the future projects, renovations and similar.

That’s pretty unique in the business. I think fast scaling businesses tend to use outside capital to do so. And if we have talked about it, you mentioned it quickly, like, we have a team that can open two, three restaurants a year. How big is the HQ team?

Kristjan: Well, it’s us really the owners. And then it’s another seven people that are actively working either economics or interior design, as well as the business control plan.

Carl: And the food development, is this done centrally?

Kristjan: Everything is done by my colleagues, and I’m also actively involved when it comes to inspiration. But I do have a team of executive chefs that are still actively involved inside of restaurant operations in order to understand how we work and what kind of a dish would actually work for the concept that we are running. Because often we do see very nice ideas that this dish would be extremely cool. 

Carl: But then when you put it in the perspective of a Saturday evening with 420 guests from 17 to 22:30, is this going to be doable?

Kristjan: Absolutely. Yes, of course. That’s the whole thing. It’s easy to build a nice dish, but can you also reproduce it 400 times? Of course.

Carl: Exactly. If I may, I believe all of the restaurants that you have are currently owned by Urban Italian group. Is there anything on your roadmap that would bring the franchise in the picture? Or is this something that you have actively decided not to pursue?

Kristjan: That has been an idea from before that this could be a franchise thing when also the restaurant looked the same. The initial first two years. But then we kind of realized that with that, we’re going to lose the soul of the Basta back then, the kind of the feeling that the employees feel the same, think the same. And that we can connect them into one whole group that is going to be under Urban Italian group. And so it also vanished the idea that this is going to be a franchise, meaning that there is no such thing on the roadmap that we would ever become that.

We just want to do it on our own. And we also want to enable all our best talent who feel committed and have proven themselves that they also can become a business owners of their own Basta unit, as long as they are willing to move wherever that would be needed and stay there for a longer period of time, several years so to say. We are willing to give away part of the ownership.

Yes. Let’s talk a little bit about your role. You’re the COO, if I’m not mistaken. What does it entangle? What’s your role within the business?

Kristjan: Our organization, when it comes to the operation, is split, just roughly speaking, on the back of the house and front of the house. My colleague Robert, he’s an expert in front of the house operation, has been working in very busy places in London. He’s taking care of, and he has to do the waitress part, and I am taking care of my boys in the kitchen.

So back of the house for the moment being more like when it comes to the executive team, just leading the team, giving instructions, following up when it comes to special events, and then more like strategically working when it comes to the menu. And the ideas that I am seeing when we’re traveling around Paris and London, which serves as a great inspiration to our teams. Apart from that is obviously business planning and the strategy where we’re going, establishing the new units, the contact supplier, and any kind of new projects that are popping up. And we need to sign a contract and choose which one is the best, like gift cards, any kind of web stores that we are starting. So, yeah, there are a lot of different things on the table, which just makes the day extra interesting and worth coming by day by day.

Carl: All right. And if you talk about back of house operations, could you explain to us a little bit how your team is structured? I mean, you’re obviously responsible in the end, and you have, let’s say, strategic vision there. But how is your team structured, let’s say below you hierarchically?

Kristjan: We do have an executive chef in place, which is responsible for the Stockholm region, and then we have in place area head chefs who are controlling the different areas, up to three restaurants per one of those area head chefs. And below them, it’s a normal, usual setup of a head chef with several coworkers that are maybe in a bigger unit, obviously also the sous chef in place, and then prima Pizzaiola as the first pizza baker so to say. Some of the teams are small, up to seven back of the house employees, and some of the teams are much bigger, up to 18, as the biggest unit in Basta, Stockholm. So it varies a lot, and there’s also a lot of flexibility in it. 

Carl: Yes. And if you look at that structure, what I hear is that the chef is still the driving force in the kitchen. Has there been, like, a discussion where you say, let’s try and not eliminate the chef, but make everyone a chef, in a sense, like that. There is no need for someone who, let’s say, overviews the quality of the kitchen so that you can roll out faster or that you can save costs. Is this like a conscious decision to have chefs in each kitchen? 

Kristjan: You mean the head chef or just a chef?

Carl: Yeah, the head chef. I believe each kitchen has its own head chef.

Kristjan: Yeah, correct. Probably that’s also the most expensive one in the business. And he’s also the one with, let’s say, the ideas. He might want to change some of the concepts. And I don’t like this salad on the pizza. I’m going to leave it off.

Carl: So it brings along a lot of creativity, but also difficulty to maintain the consistency in a way, no?

Kristjan: So the one that is very creative is definitely part of the executive team, and is able to come up with the ideas, but when we do recruitment, we are super clear about what our concept looks like. There are small changes every so twice a year, very very small changes. And unfortunately, we cannot leave any kind of room for creativity. But whoever is creative, I’m very happy that he’s submitting some ideas and then we review them. How can we implement this into the next menu change? I wouldn’t see the head chef or the chef as a cost, but I would rather see it as an added value to start with in order to see, okay, what can this person create instead of how much is it going to cost me?

Meaning that there is a necessity of having a head chef or just a leader who is going to be able to speak with guys, see how they feel, and put them together, motivate them, so they’re going to be on top of their game for the preparation and for the service time. We do work with people. We’re not working with robots. And everyone has its own feelings. There might be a conflict inside of the team. So there is always a great importance in having a leader who is a good communicator and can create a sense of fellowships inside of teams.

But when I hear you say that, I think, is it correct then to assume that the head chef in these kitchens is more, let’s say, involved in people operations than he is in the creativity of new recipes, et cetera?

And is there an official way that they can make suggestions? I mean, is there, like, let’s say, off sites where all the chefs come together and say, can we do this? Can we do that? Or is this more of an ad hoc kind of collaboration?

Kristjan: Let’s say during the year before? The menu change is one of those that we just share on the WhatsApp group ideas and what we could do. And the chefs can do their ideas inside of their kitchens so it’s not forbidden. And then when it’s time to do the menu change two months before we are actually gathering together. We are putting on the list all the ideas, what could go out. We always look into the data, what has been selling bad. If there have been any kind of complaints that we had been getting through this period, and the dish might operationally not be the easiest, but there’s a better way to do it. So there’s always this brainstorming process where we are looking at, okay, the pricing, how much would that cost, what has been selling, where were there some sort of an issue, maybe suggestion by guests that, hey, they would really love to see this kind of a sea bass carpaccio dish, evaluating all that and then making a plan how we’re moving forward. So there’s always this funnel of ideas and different criteria and, yeah, a little bit of this brainstorming session back and forth. 

And how important is data in all of this? I hear you say that you look at what sold good and what sold bad. How important is data in the urban Italian group?

Kristjan: Data is everything. We are starting to understand what it means who owns the data is the king. It’s just that the hospitality industry is so much behind with this kind of stuff. Perhaps because there are some small players that would be able to invest into it or buy or be willing to pay for some very sophisticated oracle programs that maybe ECA is actually able to afford.

Carl: But what is Urban Italian and data?

Kristjan: I would say that back of the house, not that much in comparison to what front of the house is using it for. I can say like this front of the house, extreme focus on sales, on individuals being able to track how they sell, at what point, how long it took, and then give relevant, in time feedback to every employee. They are also able to see that on the dashboard inside of restaurants, how the sales look as one part of the thing that I’m talking about. And then also the data is definitely a big big help to Caspeco. Building a great dashboard for us, being able to track stuff cost in real time, depending on each category. So depending on each section from either back of the house, front of the house, and how all this is coming together.

Carl: All right. Yeah. By the way, I hear you mentioning that back of house, you don’t have that many solutions because you think you’re too small to have power. I think it’s also something that the business needs a little bit of becoming conscious in a way, because I do think that a lot of chains do have the power to change things. But of course, if everybody thinks they don’t have the power of course, it’s very difficult to make these changes, so I think it’s a matter of time before also in the back of house, certain stuff will change and will move.

Kristjan: Absolutely. We’re looking forward to your product being available in the Swedish market, so we are able to take part of it and actually start optimizing in detail. Also our back of the house operations from the ordering, inventory, and then daily or not weekly, track how much of each gram of mozzarella we’ve been using, the cream and so on.

So this part is definitely, definitely missing for sure. And then the second one, which is also missing is the well functioning kitchen displays for casual dining restaurants. McDonald’s, Marks, they have it for fast food. They had been using it for many, many years, so there must be something good in it. And I know there is great potential to be unlocked in that segment when it comes to kitchen displays to track how fast the food is going out, what kind of mistakes have been made and so on. It’s all about being able to give our chefs feedback. And also it’s something about the control as well, when you’re not there on the spot to understand what has been going wrong, at what time we have been late and how we can improve it for the next service.

Carl: Definitely, yeah, these tools are definitely there and I’m happy to share some of the insights later on if you want.

Fantastic. Let’s move into another question, and that’s international ambition, I believe. Do you have anything outside of Sweden today?

Kristjan: Any business outside of Sweden today? Not really, except our suppliers that are outside of Sweden. But we just came from a business trip. We had been in Oslo for approximately two weeks. Has been a great time. Good weather. They said it has been raining for two months straight. And when we came it was sunny. So we saw the best of it. Extremely interesting business environment, restaurant business environment, a lot of great potential. A lot of cool vibe and genuineness inside of the city itself. So we believe that with our vibe, relaxed, premium casual dining, we’re going to fit extremely well with Florentine. So Brazer is actively looking into expansion opportunities there.

Carl: All right, so Norway is the next step. Is there any limit to where you want to expand? Is it the Nordics or is it Europe? Or is there any plan on, let’s say, international expansion?

Kristjan: We do have this slogan inside of our tree of the headquarters that is grow fast, expand consciously, meaning that we do want to grow fast, but we also want to be conscious and careful how we’re doing it. Scandinavia is on the roadmap because we feel home even though I’m not from here, the Scandinavian do feel home in so many ways. And whatever we are expanding and how fast we’re expanding, we do keep in mind what happened with Starbucks and many other companies that expanded very fast and their soul has vanished with too many employees at once and not middle management not being actually up to the game to keep the culture in place because we are where we are due to the culture and to the employees that stick with us believing in the vision. Once we lose that, we also lose the fact that everything is genuine and that the guests are perceiving it as a local restaurant, although it’s a restaurant group behind it.

Yeah, I hear that soul is extremely important to the Urban Italian group, which is a beautiful thing to hear. If I can jump into more operational stuff, can you give me the three KPIs that are the most important one to you when you’re running your business and especially when looking into the back of the house?

Kristjan: Well, I think it’s kind of the same for everyone out there. Staff cost is number one for sure then the food costs I can say that I will put it on number three because the concept is simple in terms of the business control. We do know what an average food cost and I trust fully my chefs that they are not throwing away anything. And we do have some staples, but not too many. And all the rest of them have a long shelf life, meaning that it makes everything much, much easier.

As for the second one, I would put guest satisfaction. If not, maybe I should do the guest satisfaction number one, staff cost number two and the third one, food cost. So that’s how we put it in the frame.

Carl: And how do you measure guest satisfaction?

Kristjan: Guest satisfaction we have been for quite many years measuring through the NPS net promoter score. And by accident we found that there’s this program Netigate, which we implemented a year ago and it has bumped up our understanding of the business from number four to number eight. We are able not only to track the NPS as we did before, but we are able to track how the guest rated food, drinks and different segments that we are having them to rate as well as they always have an option to comment on what exactly made them rate if they scored negative on that. So this is daily data coming in the day after the guests have booked and dined with us. The response rate is okay, 20%. So at the end of the month, I’m not going to say at the end of the month, but we are looking into daily but let’s say monthly looking at it, it’s a lot of comments coming in.

Yeah, I hear you talk a lot about the concepts and the look and feel and how people experience the different brands. How are you looking to take out delivery and have this as a part of the revenue? Do you do this and how much percentage of your revenue comes from takeout and delivery?

Kristjan: It’s an interesting question and you’re asking this one, the Basta Falun as the first one there was focused on the takeaway, and it’s still quite strong on it. So people are used to it. The people of Falun are used to it. But with us creating restaurant experience and understanding that the sitting guest is the one that generates the most revenue, the takeaway kind of didn’t feel that interesting any longer. And in the meantime, in the past four years, there was also this big shift between who actually wants to go to the restaurant, take their time, and then take the food home from those that are actually ordering via apps for the Foodora, Wolt and the rest of them, meaning that it kind of doesn’t match also any longer that there is the Foodora or Wolt guy coming in in their uniform when there’s a guest that has booked for a month in advance and is dressed very well and kind of obviously wants to feel special for that given moment.

So that’s not our focus any longer, but we rather focus okay, how to make this experience of a sitting guest as great as possible. Take them to the journey that they will be talking about to their colleagues, friends and families. So we are able to get more guests and generate the returning guest ambassadors, so to say.

Carl: And can you give us a bit of insight into how much percentage? Or is that something that is negligible at the moment?

Kristjan: Very, 0.3% maybe.

Carl: Really that low? So actually, you could actually say, we don’t do delivery or takeout anymore. We are a restaurant.

Kristjan: Absolutely. It stayed in Falun, as I mentioned, in Borlinga, because people are used to it, but the rest of it is focusing on the restaurant experience fully.

Carl: Wow. That’s great. Especially in a scaling business, people expect that delivery is a big part of the turnover, but apparently you guys make it without, so that’s a fantastic thing to hear.

Kristjan: I think maybe they’re expecting because of the expanding businesses, all of them look the same and they associate them with a chain, but we are working hard daily to move ourselves from anything like that. So we are making sure that people are not associating us with a chain. But once again, it’s a single restaurant that has been created for this city with a very luxurious environment, but still with affordable prices. So anyone is welcome. Meaning that there is none of that need of okay, I want to order the pizza takeaway from there. We want them to order the pizza takeaway somewhere else actually, and come for it.

That’s a very clear answer. We are almost at the end of the show, but I have one more question for you to ask. Can you give your insights on the trends of the restaurant industry and what is going to be the thing that you are going to be excited about and what is going to define the restaurant industry in the next three to five years?

Kristjan: Three to five years is quite a short period, but anything can happen though. I would say a big trend is plant based. And what many restaurants or even us have been understanding is that it’s not about the group of seven guests that all of them want to order vegan. It’s about the girl, 15 years old, that is following these trends and is extremely conscious about the environment. Very protective about it definitely, which everyone should be and wants to and is in favor of a vegan, if not minimum vegetarian food. 

Carl: And what does it mean in terms of a restaurant experience? 

Kristjan: It means that. Sorry, the choice of the restaurant that she’s going to be eating at isn’t her paying, it’s her father, it’s her grandfather or someone else from the family that is paying. And me as a father, it’s not me any longer that I’m deciding what I’m going to eat. I want to make sure that my son is going to be happy. So that family of eight family members is no longer going where the father likes his steak, his favorite, Bisteca Florentina. But they are deciding upon what his daughter is proposing. Because it’s all about making sure that this family is going to be happy and they’re going to have a good time together.

So it’s extremely important to be aware about the plant based trend, new products coming in, and find the solutions that are actually going to work for our menu and the type of the concept, any kind of 3D printing meat in the delivery guys. So Martin Servera and the other ones, they’re already coming up with certain solutions. Extremely interesting to look into and to have it as an offer on the menu. I had been listening to your pod where you’ve been together with the Max sustainable chief person. Very interesting what he was saying about the Alumni and then the vegan thing that they’re developing. Absolutely love the quality they’re sending out, meaning that they are doing great stuff.

Carl: Exactly. 

Kristjan: So that’s the future. And I would say this is something to be very much careful about. And worst case scenario, what can happen in this world is that something really goes bad. And all of a sudden it’s going to be either all of us, we’re going to be full on electricity and full on the plant based food, meaning that there will be so many businesses that can just vanish from this year to another, and there’s going to be a new business opportunity for all those that will create a fully plant based.

Now I’m imagining how bad it can be, just as it happened with the corona. All of a sudden, everything changes, but for sure keeping an eye and grasp and actually actively participating when it comes to the development of the dishes. So one is not left behind, because if that happens, then you’re already too late. It’s too late. So that’s kind of the biggest risk and the biggest trend, as far as I see it, when it comes to the food specific.

Yeah. Final question, back to you, back to your career. What has been an AhA moment in your career as a business operator and as a COO? What’s been the moment where you say, now everything comes together?

Kristjan: This might be a very silly and very simple one for many others out there who are listening to these experienced restaurateurs. I had the pleasure to work for a certain period under the command of an extremely good chef that has been running many restaurants in Slovenia. We worked together for a certain period, and he told me, for everything, you need a recipe, even for this small thing, and for everything, you need to quantify how people are moving, how long it takes, and so everything is in numbers and being as precise as possible. And I was like, that’s not.

What are you talking about, people, everyone tries to do the best. It’s just a little pinch of that, a little pinch of that, and it comes together very well. And then basically, with the second restaurant that we opened, that’s where I kind of really got it. It hit me hard when things haven’t been working as they’re supposed to, and the tablespoon of that, it wasn’t really a tablespoon. What’s a tablespoon for me can be something different for another person. So 100 different things that can happen. Meaning that that was the biggest AHA moment.

And from there on, I kind of got obsessed with the systems, processes, and just quantifying everything, what’s possible in order to stabilize the final product. And by stabilizing, I mean that the quality is consistent, at least when the food is prepared, in the preparation. And then comes the second part, which is the actual cooking. But, yeah, that’s kind of absolutely the biggest aha moment. And without it, and without him, I wouldn’t be here who I am. 

Carl: Kristjan, on that bombshell, I think it’s a perfect moment to end the conversation. Thank you very much for taking the time. And to the listeners, thank you very much for staying with us.

Kristjan: Fantastic. I welcome everyone to Sweden to dine in one of our restaurants and wish you a great day.

Carl: Thank you so much. Goodbye! 

Kristjan: Bye bye!

Guest & Host

Kristjan Longar

COO & Managing Partner
Urban Italian Group

Carl Jacobs

Co-founder & CEO

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