Fogo de Chão’s CEO Plans to Reenergize Experiential Dining

Food is serious business. Now, on The Main Course, host Barbara Castiglia will invite insiders on the front lines of food to share their expertise, strategies, and forecasts for navigating the ever-changing restaurant industry.

 

Experiential dining has always been a special segment combining outstanding service, unique moments, and delicious food. But it came to a halt during the pandemic. On The Main Course, host Barbara Castiglia spoke with Barry McGowan, CEO of Fogo de Chão, a Brazilian steakhouse. He shared how the brand pivoted and how they’re now expanding to deliver joy to customers.

McGowan is in love with hospitality, spending most of his life in the industry. From his first job at McDonald’s to working with Chili’s to opening restaurants across the world, hospitality is in his blood. On joining Fogo de Chão, he said, “I loved the concept and the brand, the authenticity of it all.”

As a leader of the brand, McGowan explained they started innovating. “We introduced seafood, Brazilian brunch on weekends, new ways to create experiences. For six years, we had positive organic growth.”

Then the pandemic hit, and experiential dining wasn’t an option. The brand pivoted, offering to-go for the first time. “We needed a new revenue channel. We started with a product list and butchered meats. Within three days, we had to-go offerings.”

Once it was safe to open, the company added more labor to focus on more service and hospitality. “We leaned into what we’re good at and what consumers want,” McGowan said.

 

“We leaned into what we’re good at and what consumers want.”

 

McGowan also spoke about the 12 Safety Promises, based on health and safety guidelines.

Expansion of the brand is what’s next, with several new locations opening. They also have a Next Level Lounge and butchery on the way. McGowan described the future, “We’re well-positioned and offer more ways to explore and enjoy because steak is stale offering. You can have a variety of steak and other meats along with exotic foods. Guests can experience things they’d never buy in the grocery store.”

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