From Mahi Mahi to Moneyball: How big data can improve restaurants

Stealing a base from the baseball playbook
Sara Elliott worries fake allergy claims may inspire restaurants to turn away real sufferers. (Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)

Cooking is about creativity. It can be a real art.

But it's also about numbers. And we're not talking a cup here, and a tablespoon there.

Today, the restaurant biz is cookin' with real hard stats.

That's because the industry is constantly evolving. Restaurateurs have to stay nimble and be adaptable.

And now, to stay on top of the game, some are turning to analytics.

Damian Mogavero

Using data to build everything from the perfect the perfect Tiramisu.

Damian Mogavero is the author of The Underground Culinary Tour.

He's also the founder of Avero, a software company with a very specific purpose -- to give restaurateurs a way to use their own data to make better decisions.

"It's like Moneyball for restaurants," Damian says.

He means using the data-crunching approach to building a better baseball team...and applying it to the culinary world.


Damian is a former restaurateur, and he thinks applying analytics in the kitchen will pay off in the dining room.

One of the tools he's developed is a server scorecard.

Damian says being able to collect and analyse the data on the scorecard is  a triple win: for the restaurant, the server, and the customer.


He gives the example of a scorecard that showed one server in a restaurant who sold bottles of wine far less than her colleagues.

"It turns out the server was afraid to open up bottles of wine," Damian explains.

"So they provided the training on how to open a bottle of wine and that built confidence."  

By the next shift, that server was selling just as many bottles as her peers.

Asked whether servers feel surveilled by the data, Damian responds:

"The data doesn't lie. So you're able to give more quantitative feedback, and the servers actually enjoy getting that feedback because they also want to give a great guest experience and if there's a blindspot, they want to know about it."


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