Flavorful Insights: Unwrapping Success with PDQ CEO | Season 9, Vol. 16

Hospitality Hangout

Aug 15 2023 • 51 mins

In the latest episode of Hospitality Hangout, Michael Schatzberg "The Restaurant Guy" and Jimmy Frischling "The Finance Guy" host Kep Sweeney, CEO of PDQ Restaurants. The guys start with the Tuesday trivia, revealing three facts about Kep, two of which are true and one false.


Kep gives a brief background of himself and PDQ, sharing that the company has a presence in Florida and New York and is known for delivering non-QSR quality food quickly. He mentions PDQ's culinary ethos and its co-founders Bob Basham and Nick Reader.


They talk about Sweeney’s Wall Street days before delving into his career trajectory. Starting in restaurants, Kep worked with culinary legends and received an award from Julia Child before obtaining his MBA. He was then hired by Solomon Brothers and became a restaurant analyst, gaining experience with independent and multi-unit restaurants. He authored "The New Restaurant Entrepreneur" and has been involved in restaurant consulting, turnarounds, and process improvement.

Kep then talks about his transition to PDQ, reflecting on Solomon Brothers' legacy with the hosts. They discuss the origins of major restaurant brands like McDonald's, and Kep provides insight into PDQ's beginnings, detailing how the company grew from a single location to 62. The founding story is explored, including how PDQ was created out of a need for healthier food options for kids.
The discussion shifts to the specifics of PDQ's growth, including its corporate model and the unique challenges of franchising. Kep emphasizes the importance of developing operators who are passionate about their work and supported by quantitative analysis, aiming for a perfect day at PDQ with high-quality products and motivated staff.

Check out the entire conversation for a deep dive into PDQ's organizational structure, customer-centric approach, data-driven decision-making process, technology adoption, and product innovation. It provides valuable insights into how modern restaurant operations can thrive in a competitive landscape by embracing innovation, agility, and customer-focused strategies.

To hear the questions and the answers to Tuesday Trivia’s “Two Truths and a Lie,” tune into this episode of Hospitality Hangout.