Episode Highlights

  • Jessica talks about how she was around restaurants quite a bit growing up – without even realizing it – and feels that, subconsciously, she recognized the hustle in restaurants.
  • When working at an agency, Jessica discovered she wanted to be a part of brand development and making decisions for a brand.
  • After moving to Los Angeles, Jessica realized she wanted two things: 1) To be on the brand side and 2) Work for a company with strong values and a strong mission.
  • Jessica considers Veggie Grill her “restaurant bootcamp” as she was part of a high growth operation – the company grew from 12 locations to 30 locations in a few years.
  • After launching several new programs, an app and many menu relaunches, Jessica was a part of Veggie Grill’s brand refresh. This sparked the next steps in her career at ARYZTA – a global bakery company featuring brands like Otis Spunkmeyer.
  • Groundwork Coffee is  celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Groundwork is an organic coffee roasting company located in Los Angeles, CA and features about twelve different locations.
  • Aside from the company’s organic certification, it stands by its commitment to the community – often involving local artists for signage and packaging.
  • One of Jessica’s first projects at Groundwork was establishing the mission and vision of the company, which wasn’t told very successfully in the previous 30 years.
  • During COVID, Groundwork decided to capitalize on the home brewing trend and offered up its cold brew as ground coffee.
  • Groundwork looked at what could be offered to folks at home (via online), including selling merchandise like coffee bags.
  • A huge portion of Groundwork’s revenue can be attributed to wholesale and food service. The company works with small cafes, and even hospitals, hotels and universities.
  • The company’s app is a big focus right now during the pandemic. This includes building awareness for the app as well as building loyalty with existing customers.
  • The company’s baristas and managers are having a tough time during this period. Marketing is looking to help them communicate better with customers by developing signs and ensuring customers understand how to navigate a cafe safely.
  • According to Jessica, the integration of data is one of the biggest challenges marketers face in the restaurant industry. As an example, the company’s app does not talk with its POS.
  • Groundwork has partnered with an agency to guide the company through a rebrand, including all of its major products, packaging and signage.
  • Jessica mentions that her greatest achievement has been evolving over her career; and one of her biggest failures – printing a menu that highlighted an item as gluten free…even though it wasn’t.
  • One of the major things she’s learned over the years is to get more comfortable with risk in marketing.

Quotables

  • “I feel like such a strong connection to food and beverage and how people connect emotionally to it. And I feel somehow I’ve worked in categories that are super emotional, like coffee, bread, cookies, like these are things that people like to use every day as comfort.”
  • “It’s really important to know your industry, know your category, know your customer and know your competitors. But if you spend all day just worrying about what everyone else is doing, you’re never going to get to the heart of who you are. And when I say you, I mean your brand.”
  • Jessica discussed the conflict of being open during the pandemic, “I definitely was proud at the time because we were challenged with staying open because we got some negative feedback. Because I think at the time it was like closing was the right thing to do. But then on the flip side, we were getting notifications from people that they were so thankful that we were there for them.”
  • Jessica talked about a shift to DIY, “That’s the same thing that’s going on with bread right now. I mean, I don’t know if you’ve heard that trend, but people are learning how to make sourdough bread at home. It’s like a huge COVID thing, which is fascinating to me. And we’ve been trying to pivot in that direction and just be supportive of where the consumption is moving for our guests.”
  • Jessica mentions the rollout of the app, which was accelerated by the pandemic, “…we had already planned on launching an app for order ahead and delivery. And we were planning on launching it in a couple of months, but this definitely accelerated the timeline.”
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