Oct 21, 2023 18 min read

Words Matter!

Words Matter!
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Happy Saturday and I hope everyone had a good week.

Before we jump into all the action, I've got some exciting news to announce! If we were recording an episode of our Hospitality Hangout podcast right now, I'd be arguing with my partner, The Restaurant Guy aka Schatzy, over which one of us gets to break the news! One of us would say we got some BREAKING NEWS (IYKYK)! and here it is!

While our die-hard fans already know we drop new episodes every Tuesday, today we've got something big to spill the beans about. The Hospitality Hangout is making a grand entrance, folks! We've hopped onto new platforms, including the giants like SpotifyAppleAmazoniHeart, and Google Podcasts.

To keep the transition as smooth as a perfectly poured glass of Kings County and continue enjoying our latest episodes, we humbly request that you rekindle your podcast love affair by re-subscribing on your favorite app. Click the link below to re-subscribe.

Before I finish this announcement, I want to give a huge thanks to our subscribers for sticking with us and all our guests for hanging out with us on the POD. It's been a fun and exciting 150 episodes and we are looking forward to 150 more!


This week, Schatz and I had the privilege of spending some quality time with a new friend, who among the many roles he plays, one of them is the management of a family office. Together, we had a wonderful dinner at one of our restaurants, Isabelle's Osteria, where we spent a few hours getting to know one another.

Our discussion over dinner covered a range of topics and of the time we spent together, only a fraction was about Branded, our investment strategy and areas of potential cooperation. During the meal, my dinner companion took out a small notebook and from it he produced a piece of paper the size of a business card. On it he wrote “Words Matter” and he passed the paper for me to keep. I put it in my wallet. As I was travelling home and thinking about the extent of our discussion at dinner and specifically some of the advice that our new friend shared with us, I took out the piece of paper - "Words Matter." The inspiration for this week’s H^2 Top of the Fold section was found.

I read a LinkedIn post earlier this week by good friend of Branded and the CEO of Kitchen United, Atul Sood. In this post, he wrote about “the no agenda phone call.” Mr. Sood thoughtfully commented and maybe helped remind me of the importance of a call (or maybe an in-person meeting, dinner and otherwise) that has no agenda. These calls (or in-person meetings, dinners and otherwise) can be moments where you talk about life, friends and more.  Atul went on to say you might even “get some free coaching.”

As I was enjoying dinner with my new friend and discussing everything and maybe even nothing at the same time, and specifically the lack of any agenda, I realized, that was the only item of the agenda. To spend some quality time with a new friend and get to know one another. Whether we do or do not end up working together, I learned a lot about my new friend and quite a bit about how someone who is exploring and looking at Branded sees us and the advice he shared. I didn’t get a little coaching (as Mr. Sood mentioned in his post), I got a great deal of it and was provided with a wealth of information and knowledge.

Despite the title of last week’s H^2 newsletter, “Drive for Show & Putt for Dough,” I want to make clear that I’m NOT a golfer. I have an appreciation and understanding of the sport, but it’s never been my game. As a much younger man, I picked up the sport, even took some lessons and twice went to golf camp. I can play a few holes and maybe even make it seem like I’m a golfer, but a reversion to the mean will always settle in and I will prove not to be one.

I once teed-off in a scramble and as the “D” player in my foursome, I was asked to take the very first shot for our group. It was a Par 3 hole and my shot landed on the green. My teammates, who I had met only that day at breakfast, called me a “sandbagger” for my taking the maximum handicap and then putting my first shot on the green. I asked the group NOT to judge my golf game by a single swing on the first hole we played together. By the second hole (and my scattering balls in all sorts of directions), the group agreed, I was a solid “D” player. Please note, I’m strongest at the 19th hole, so don’t threaten me with a good time and I’m happy to meet you at that most special place when you finish your round. 😊

Why am I sharing the above story? A dear friend of mine (let’s call him Mr. Wolf) was a strong golfer (as he was at so many things) and one of the reasons he loved golf was b/c of the hours of private time that it gave him to spend with the folks he played with. Sometimes that was time he spent with friends and family. Sometimes it was with business associates or even new potential clients and prospects. Private time, quiet time, focused time. Real-time! He talked about the unique opportunity that afforded him to really get to know someone.

My Dad isn’t a golfer, but his happy place was on the basketball court. He would say how much you could learn about someone by playing ball with them.

That’s somewhat how Schatz and I feel about restaurants and the opportunity to “break bread together.” As hospitality guys, that’s our golf course or hoop court. You can learn a lot about people when you share a meal with them.

When Branded launched our investment platform, we made two visits to Chicago BEFORE committing to these investments. We did this in order to spend time with the leadership team we were exploring an investment with. The great city of Chicago has proven to be a target rich environment for strong tech companies (and AWESOME restaurants) that are key players in the world of emerging tech & innovation for the hospitality industry.

Visit #1 was to see our partners at PourMyBeer. Josh Goodman, Founder and CEO of the world leader in self-pour beverage solutions told us we were the first investors that flew to Chicago to see him. That was nice to hear, but as the first institutional investor in PourMyBev, that wasn’t much of a surprise. On the visit we learned about Josh’s prowess in football, his marrying his college sweetheart (who is the athlete in the Goodman family) and his journey from cutlery salesperson to the person who will be credited with bringing self-pour to the hospitality industry in scale and giving guests great joy thanks to his company’s self-pour solution.

Shameless promotion of PourMyBeer follows, but I’m a numbers person and these numbers tell a better story than I ever could about the value of this company.

Visit #2 to Chicago was in connection with our investment in Chowly. We met the Co-Founders, Sterling Douglass, CEO and Justin McNally, Chief Innovation Officer, at their offices, as well as being afforded the opportunity to meet the team including the awesome Lawton Brothers, Joe Lawton, COO and Tom Lawton, CRO. Later that day we caught up with Sterling and Justin for dinner. Again, Schatz and I were told that we were the first out-of-state investors to take the time to fly to Chicago, meet them in-person and break bread together. At that meal I learned about Sterling’s superpower as a world-class “eater” and he proceeded to demonstrate his ability to consume food until Schatz and I cried mercy. Justin shared his love of cigars, a vice I have as well, and an experience Justin and I have enjoyed together at many conferences.

Since I provided PourMyBeer with a shameless promotion, let me play fair and do the same for our friends at Chowly. Here’s the link to a post from Sterling on how a Simple software change created $30k in additional sales. To my friends at the world famous Pigwich in Kansas City, who I have not yet met, we see you and appreciate you!

Our commitment and belief in “showing-up” is not meant to say we’re better or worse than others. Everyone must do what they feel is right and best for them.

For Branded, we believe in showing-up, we believe in the importance of sharing a meal together with the leadership of the companies we’re looking to invest in and conversations that at times appear to have no agenda other than getting to know one another. We’re a relationship-oriented platform and that’s not a “nice” thing to be. For us, it’s a critical part of our strategy and investment thesis.

Branded invests in early-stage companies. That’s a polite way of saying that we make “bets.” I know the word “bet” is probably not loved when operating in a world where I’m a fiduciary, a steward of capital and operating in a highly regulated industry, but what else would you call making an investment in early-stage companies with little to no revenues that are still trying to prove out its product, market, fit? It’s a bet!

Yes, Branded believes we have the ability to make intelligent and well-informed bets. We believe our operator-first investment thesis that’s driven by our subject matter experts (“SMEs”) which come from our Hospitality Network, a group comprised of an army of industry operators, is our key differentiator and our not-secret sauce.

No one (and I mean no one) would ever accuse me of writing short sections for the H^2, PERIOD!!!

Despite the verbosity in my writing, I take the words I use very seriously. The typos in my writing are absolutely mistakes and I wish I didn’t have any of, but the words matter. Teaching, coaching, mentoring, parenting and quite simply communicating effectively requires attention to, and intentionality of, the words.

The wrong words can, and I dare say, will most likely destroy, the intended message.

As so many others have, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the current crisis and atrocities going on in Israel. In the context of the “words matter,” the number of universities, colleges, institutions, corporations, and politicians that failed miserably in their communications b/c of the choice of words has been tremendous.

I did a little research on this topic and found some pretty interesting stuff. I found an article by Amy Agarwal, a Principal Writer and Editor for EngenderHealth. From Ms. Agarwal’s article: “The words we choose and the language we use have the power to affect the people and the world around us. Our words represent our beliefs, morals, prejudices, and principles—sometimes in ways we may not mean—and can shape an audience’s perceptions of us as well as the issues about which we speak and write. And our failure or refusal to speak or write certain words—intentional or not—sends similar messages.”

Among the words of advice, Ms. Agarwal provided, my favorites included:

  • Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
  • Know Your Audience, Respect Your Audience
  • Learn to Live in the Grey Areas
  • Do a Little Research
  • When in Doubt, Ask (Politely)

With all of this in mind, and to make sure I keep this in the world of hospitality, here’s a little “glossary” of words and even slang you can use to speak like a seasoned restaurateur. Proper use of these words will prove helpful in your experience at almost any joint. Similar to my experience in travel, even attempting to speak the language is appreciated. Be humble, be respectful, be honest, and thoughtful, and if you do that combined with these words, you’ll find your engagement with restaurants will improve.

I’ve selected a few specific words below and you can find the full list in the link here: Restaurant Terms and Slang: How to Talk Like a Seasoned Restaurateur

I’d like to thank and give attribution of the list to my friends at Lightspeed POS.

· Walk-in: you’re trying to get a table, but don’t have a resy. Ask the host/hostess if they could accommodate a “[size of your] party walk-in.”

· Last call: If you’re dining late or looking for a joint for ‘just one more,’ you can inquire when “last call” is.

· Upsell: A technique that servers use to get customers to purchase more expensive menu items. If done correctly, when you see an “upsell” taking place by your server, you can either ask if the recommendation was genuine or an “upsell.” You can also compliment a server for an “upsell” that was well executed.

· Well: These are inexpensive house liquors. It’s important for all your staff to understand the difference. As a guest, you can ask what particular spirit the restaurant is using in the “well.”

· In the weeds: If a server is swamped – perhaps she/he has a lot of tables to serve at once and was double or even triple-sat or has a large party she/he is “in the weeds.” If observe your server is “slammed,” you can mention that as it will show understanding of the load they’re currently carrying. For example, “I can see you’re ‘in the weeds,’ we’re not in a rush, go take care of your other tables.

· 86ed: Sometimes, the kitchen will run out of an ingredient in a menu item (no more cinnamon sugar rims on the fall cocktail), a drink, or an entire menu item. This means it’s 86ed. Usually, the manager or the kitchen staff will alert servers so they don’t offer it or can tell guests. 

· Campers: These are guests who linger at their table after they’ve finished their meals and paid the check. For a restaurant server, this isn’t great. Servers would rather turn their table to a new set of guests, and for guests waiting, this can be unpleasant too!

Finally, the image used for this week’s edition of the H^2. I embraced the title when the note was passed to me at Isabelle’s, but I still needed a photo. It only took a few clicks to find this photo of Michael B. Jordan which is from the short film directed by Spike Lee titled “Words Matter,” for the US fashion brand for Coach. The film was shot in the American desert and sees Jordan rejecting the words “evil,” “hatred,” “bigotry,” and “lies,” and replaces them with more positive alternatives, such as “courage,” “truth,” “love,” and “dream.” A further clip sees Mr. Jordan tell the camera: "Think about what you say. It's important." I couldn’t think of a better image for this week’s edition.

Here’s the short film if you’d like to view it for yourself: Words Matter by Michael B Jordan.

It takes a village.

Branded loves to boast about our friends and portfolio companies and I certainly did a little of that above in the Top of the Fold.

I want to use this week's Shoutout section to recognize, appreciate and highlight Branded’s newest portfolio company, LiquidData.

This e-commerce SaaS for beverage alcohol brands helps scale and drive a successful direct-to-consumer (DTC) experience. This MarTech and E-Commerce platform is designed for beverage alcohol brands that want to scale online revenues FAST! The team is comprised of professionals from DTC Digital Paid Marketing, Data Analytics and Beverage Alcohol E-Commerce.

The LiquidData solutions delivers online sales results for both emerging brands and the largest beverage brands in the world.

Branded is proud to have LiquidData join our family of operator-centric technology & innovation companies and we’re thrilled to be on this journey with them.

Two things caught my eye this week that have me highlighting LiquidData.

First, it was seeing Forbes embrace the campaign LiquidData created for Fireball and their new "Sympathy” cards.

Fireball Fires Up Football Fans With New ‘Sympathy’ Cards

Fireball, the cinnamon whisky company, released their first line of sports-related, drinkable sympathy cards called Fireball Footbawl Cards. The cards, which cost $1.99, not only contain words of solace and encouragement for the saddened fan, but they also contain alcohol - an actual shooter of Fireball whisky.

Fireball Footbawl Cards are available for purchase in select states. Each card will be available throughout the season or while supplies last. Expedited shipping is also included in the cost of the card, courtesy of Fireball. I wish I was aware of this offer at the time of the JETS series of downs. I have a group of friends I would have been sending these to.

Second, I love writing the Branded H^2 and I’m an avid reader of newsletters from other companies. With that in mind, I want to share the link to LiquidData’s newsletter, “Bottle & Barrel.” This is your 5-minute weekly e-mail packaged with cocktail recipes, new craft brews, must-try spirits and more! This newsletter has already amassed over 75,000 subscribers! I’m proud to be among them and to be an investor in LiquidData. For folks that wish to learn more about LiquidData, please feel free to contact me directly.

This week, I am absolutely delighted to introduce a valuable addition to our community. And when I mention "our community" this time, I'm not referring to the remarkable friends we've made in the industry or the close-knit village we've built. I'm specifically talking about the exceptional individuals who constitute our BWorks community, which is designed to cater to hospitality, technology, and innovation companies in need of co-working spaces.

Without further ado, I'd like to extend a warm and enthusiastic welcome to our friends at Superfiliate, an emerging company that powers word-of-mouth growth through personalized storefronts for a brand's best customers, influencers, ambassadors, and affiliates. CEO Andy Cloyd and his talented team, Ben, Brian, and Marti, have brought the energy to BWorks, and we are beyond thrilled to have them join us.

We're excited about creating a community that values relationships, synergies, and tactical solutions. The primary goal of our co-working space is to expedite growth and add value for all our members. And yes, we also offer opportunities for short-term leases and flexible office spaces because they are integral components of BWorks' value proposition.

If you're interested in becoming a part of the BWorks community, reach out to us at bworks@brandedstrategic.com.

I’m proud to share the winner of this week’s “Where in the World is Branded" contest is our friends from PHITWELL

I’m not going to say these gentlemen wore it best, but I don't believe we'll have a winner that is more “fit” than this crew!

WITW is Branded Winners - Larry & Konrad

To participate in the contest: Email marketing@brandedstrategic.com or contact your friend at Branded to submit a photo of yourself wearing a piece of Branded "swag" and let us know where in the world you are!


ACG NY's Middle Market Week will bring together leading global middle market dealmaking professionals to develop and enhance their dealmaking activities, strengthen their long-term relationships, and provide numerous opportunities for networking. Make sure you are in New York for this can’t miss week of non-stop deal opportunities November 6th through November 10th.’



Answer also revealed at the end of the newsletter


Beyond Customer Acquisition: A Marketing Team’s Potential Impact on Product Adoption, Customer Retention, and Upsell

By: Seth Temko, Solutions Services Partner at Branded Hospitality Ventures

Everything in a well-oiled marketing and sales ‘machine’ has one goal: winning new business. Lead generation funnels, personas, marketing channels and campaigns, content, trade show participation…it all supports winning net new business. 

But what is the role of marketing once the customer is won? Continue Reading Here

Digital Restaurant Association 

We champion restaurants to thrive in a digital world

Join the DRA Today


How to Win More Customers with a Seamless Ordering Process

By: Aaron Newton, Co-Founder & Head of Product at Thanx

Winning customers is about more than simply selling a product—especially when it comes to online ordering. When the purchasing experience is straightforward and seamless, customers are more likely to return. This also goes for loyalty program experiences. When enrolling is simple and the rewards are easy to access, customers are more likely to take advantage.

But that’s not the only win. Business leaders who can capture customer data through loyalty integrations can continually make the experience better and better for their customers. This drives repeat purchases and catapults conversion rates.  

Here’s how to win more customers and improve revenue with a seamless online ordering process. Continue Reading Here

Serve Up Hope with CORE

Children of Restaurant Employees is a national non-profit and direct provider that is dedicated to serving food and beverage operations employees with children. CORE provides financial relief when the restaurant employee, their spouse, or child faces a life-altering medical crisis, injury, death, or natural disaster. To learn more about how CORE helps, and how you and your company can get involved, click the button below

Learn More


Post Malone, Dallas Cowboys, and Chicken Fingers: How One Restaurant Brand Continues to Compete with Fast Food Royalty

By: Noah Stern, Associate, Branded Hospitality Ventures

According to Edison Trends, online ordering of fried chicken sandwiches increased 420% between January 2019 and December 2020. So how does one relatively new chicken tender and french fry chain stand out among the competition? Continue Reading Here

Restaurant Industry Movers in the Market

—Data as of 10/20/23


Learn how the Hospitality Industry advisors from CohnReznick can put you at the forefront of advanced financial, operational, and risk management strategies.

Learn More


Everything I Learned About Marketing, I Learned From AC/DC ... Without Realizing It

By: Rev Ciancio, Head of Revenue Marketing at Branded Hospitality Ventures

You probably think marketing is hard. It’s always changing. The tools are always evolving. The needs of your ICP are a moving target.

And don’t get us marketers started when it comes to measuring our efforts, because we care about sales more than anyone. Mostly because that’s how we ultimately get judged but along that route, we’ll get asked things like “how do we get more followers?”

(The real answer to that question is “what’s the value of a follower.”)

So how do we benchmark? How do we progress? How do we make an impact? Continue Reading Here


Hospitality Tech and F&B Innovation IN THE NEWS:

We love to highlight Food Service & Hospitality news, especially when it’s Partners & Friends making it!

And in other News…please see some of the stories that caught our attention and that we’re paying attention to. This week was loaded with headlines and news!!

ANSWER: Popeyes

Popeyes is the fast-food chain that famously sold out of chicken sandwiches in 2019. The chain announced that it would bring back the sandwich on Sunday, November 3, 2019. The announcement was made in a video that took a jab at rival Chick-fil-A, which is famously closed on Sundays.


🔍 Got Questions? We've Got Answers! 🌟

Satisfy your thirst for knowledge? Look no further! It's time to dive into our brand-new segment: "Ask The Headline"! 🎉

📅 We'll be answering YOUR questions every week. And here's the best part: you can choose to stay anonymous or receive a fabulous shout-out when we feature your question!

That’s it for today!

See you next week, (about the) same bat-time, same bat-channel.

It takes a village!

Jimmy Frisch & Julia Suchocki
Branded Hospitality Ventures
jimmy@brandedstrategic.com & js@brandedstrategic.com
235 Park Ave South, 4th Fl | New York, NY 10003

Branded Hospitality Ventures ("Branded") is an investment and advisory platform at the intersection of food service, technology, innovation and capital. As experienced hospitality owners and operators, Branded brings value to its portfolio companies through investment, strategic counsel, and its deep industry expertise and connections.

Learn more about Branded here: Branded At-A-Glance October 2023

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