Pandemic Pivots for the Restaurant Industry | Kristina Zhao

There’s a limit to what you can learn about a new subject from articles and research. Sometimes you need to sit down and talk to people with first hand experience. A conversation can be as good as a lecture, and that’s why this episode with Kristina Zhao is one of my favorites. A lot has changed since this episode first aired. No, the pandemic hasn’t gone anywhere, but neither have Kristina and Sichuan House. They’re still going strong and just recently placed as a finalist in the Best of San Antonio Drive-In of 2020. As for my own journey in the restaurant business, we’ve opened our physical location back up, hired a new chef from Mexico and the future holds promise.

Kristina’s restaurant did over 80% of their business by dine-in services prior to the pandemic. Delivery and take out sounds like an easy option, but is it viable for a family-run business when third parties take such a large percentage? We talk about how Sichaun House was able to make the pivot in large part due to Kristina’s unique background, education and can-do attitude. She and her team adapted technology to meet the restaurant’s business needs, serve their customers and manage margins.

When you take care of your people and your employees, the rest follows.
—Kristina Zhao

Episode Highlights

We start by talking about Robonzo’s foray into the restaurant sector and go on to discuss:

  • (09:02) Her time working in the wireless industry
  • (18:30) From dine-in to delivery
  • (23:05) Adapting technology to make margins work
  • (29:08) The turbulent first couple of weeks of COVID
  • (39:34) Prioritizing the value of people
  • (44:06) Getting creative with menu naming

Mentioned in this Episode

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