In the latest episode of Hospitality Hangout, Michael Schatzberg “The Restaurant Guy” and Jimmy Frischling “ The Finance Guy” chat with Bryan Solar, Restaurants GM at Square, to discuss his unique journey into the industry, the rebranding of Square, and the importance of POS innovations.
When asked about his start in the industry, Solar talks about his background and coming from a family of restaurateurs. He tells the guys about his journey to working at a strategy consulting firm that helped really big companies turn around in the recession
He shares that during that time frame, he learned that his aunt’s restaurant was struggling. He says, “One day my aunt called me and she said “hey you know the family restaurant is struggling,” and I thought to myself, if we can do this for really big companies, why can’t we do it for restaurants?” Solar decided to start a nonprofit to help restaurants turn their businesses around. He adds, “Working with those restaurant owners, I mean it felt like working with family.”
Solar shares that he decided to attend business school and started a new business with the goal of helping restaurants. Google soon took notice and partnered with Solar, which led to the development of Reserve with Google. Other companies were also starting to take notice of Solar’s work as well. He talks about receiving a call from Square, a company that he deeply admired, and being offered a job with them. He says, “They said, “hey do you want this job” and I was like, you know I would absolutely love that job because in my mind you know the point of sale is the future.” He adds, “For me, this is the dream job, I get to help all the folks that you know, look like my aunts, uncles and cousins.”
Frischling asks Solar why Square recently decided to change their name to Block. Solar shares that the name change was derived from several different components. He shares that the name Square became synonymous with walking into a store and interacting with a payment system. The change to Block acknowledges the company’s growth, considering new things like bitcoin, and the company adding Cash App and TIDAL, the name change creates room for further growth. Solar adds, “Having the name Block kind of captures the 3-dimensional aspect of like what Square is trying to do.”
The guys chat about the relevance of POS. Solar, who recently spoke on a panel to discuss POS being its own ecosystem, talks about the importance of building really important technologies and the need to constantly make updates on a weekly or sometimes even daily basis. He says, “I actually think the kitchen is the heart of the restaurant. I mean everything flows in and out of the kitchen, that’s how the business runs. The POS is the brain. It is the thing that directs everything, makes it better, faster.”
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