The restaurant industry was one of those hit the hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Josh Kopel of Downtown’s Preux & Proper isn’t any different.
He closed his restaurant and pivoted toward helping others in his situation. The host of the “Full Comp: The Voice of the Restaurant Industry Revolution” podcast recently launched his all-encompassing “Industry Guide to Restructuring.”
The guide, which is available for free on Kopel’s website, joshkopel.com, is the culmination of the efforts of some of the greatest minds in the restaurant industry. Strategic partners included Yelp, Oyster Sunday, Cornell University, Death & Co., and Jon Taffer, as well as countless insights provided by guests of the podcast.
“Everything I’ve done thus far since the podcast has all been a function of need,” he said. “It’s a selfish act entirely. I had looked at other guides, but what we needed was a wholistic solution.
“Through this opportunity with the podcast, I’ve been able to talk to some of the brightest minds in the industry.”
Kopel wanted to cobble together something that tackles most subject that would help restaurants “survive today and thrive tomorrow.”
“Full Comp was a selfish endeavor,” he said. “I was lost and needed guidance. I’ve used the show as a platform to reach out to the folks I’ve looked up to my entire career, hoping their wisdom could help us chart a new path forward.”
Kopel admitted some of the information in the guide may seem a little obvious at face value. But looking at it as a whole, the guide is “incredibly valuable,” he said.
“It goes over everything from dealing with your landlord to negotiating with vendors to what to do if someone doesn’t want to wear a mask in your restaurant,” he said. “We ran the gamut. This is a multitiered problem. It’s not a money problem. This was an obliteration of an entire industry.”
Kopel said he didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. He wanted to know what the smartest folks in the industry were going to do and then he would follow suit.
“That’s why I started the podcast, but after months of doing the show, I still lacked a cohesive plan to reopen,” Kopel said. “So, I reached out to the innovators, frontrunners and the folks who were already open to determine what was working and what wasn’t. This guide is the result of those efforts. All of the credit for this project goes to the amazing people and companies that provided this information. This is my path forward. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best I’ve seen out there.”
Kopel said the book isn’t a marketing product. He doesn’t reach out after the book is downloaded. After all, he’s in the same boat.
“My restaurant is not open,” he said. “It was 6,000 square feet, two stories. I don’t know if I need that much anymore. I look at the tier of dining we were in. I don’t know if that best serves the community. We had a $21,000 lease rate. I didn’t have many options. What I wanted in this moment were options. I wanted to know how can I get in most service to the community. It’s with this guide.”