In the latest episode of Hospitality Hangout, Michael Schatzberg “The Restaurant Guy” and Jimmy Frischling “ The Finance Guy” chat with Stratis Morfogen, Book Author and Co-Founder of Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, to discuss Dons, dumplings, and disruption.
Frischling asks Morfogen about his background in the industry. Morfogen shares that although he has owned Chinese restaurants for the last 17 years he actually grew up in a typical Greek family.
He talks about his family of restauranteurs running 14 different restaurants when he was a child, including the Chelsea Chop House which his father owned. The guys talk about Morfogen’s concept for Brooklyn Chop House and his commitment to creating a menu that he says, “married Beijing Chinese food to an American steakhouse and I made both cultures true to each other.” He talks about innovating the restaurant’s appetizer selection by reinventing and reimagining two subcategories: dumplings and sandwiches. He says, “Everything that was once a sandwich I converted it into a dumpling.” He adds, “When we opened in 2018, we doubled our projections, the restaurant just went gangbusters and everyone was ordering a bunch of dumplings.”
The guys talk about Morfogen’s new book and his unique pastime as a child. Morfogen shares that as early as age 6, he was hanging out with mobsters at the Fulton Fish Market. He talks about even declining trips to Disney with his siblings so that he could spend time with his dad a the infamous fish market which happened to be run by Alphonse “Allie Shades” Malangone of the Genovese crime family, or “uncle” as a young Morfogen would come to know him by. Morfogen talks about seeing the hustle and bustle of the scene and learning a lot there that he says, “they’re just not gonna teach you in school.” He adds, “My father didn’t hide it from me, you know, and I believe that was one of the greatest things he did for me because he really grew me up quickly and basically showed me the real world at a very early age.” Morfogen’s experience includes running nightclubs, and 40 restaurants on his own, and becoming a published author. When asked about his new book, he says, “I got to tell you for the last twenty years people would say, “you got to write a book, you got to write a book” and this is what I did with Simon and Schuster, I wrote ‘Be a Disruptor.’”
Morfogen talks about the recent MURTEC conference where he was a guest speaker. He tells the guys that one of the members of the audience addressed him with profanity and accused him of stealing jobs. Instead of shying away from the subject, Morfogen decided to use the platform to provide education and insights. He shares that the person was referring to automation. Morfogen explains that he didn’t create automat for safety, it was created for economics and efficiencies because the number one reason a majority of restaurants go out of business is due to excessive payroll costs.
He says, “If 7 out of 10 restaurants are failing because of 30 to 40% payroll and we have a method and it’s proven now, it’s not just hype, that you could bring this down to 14 to 18%, you got a chance of not just surviving but thriving.”
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