It took nearly two decades of relentless work by Tom Colicchio to build his restaurant empire, Craft Hospitality; but it took just under a month to destroy it all. In mid-March, Colicchio had to shut down all of his restaurants and lay off nearly 400 people. Colicchio is hardly alone in instituting layoffs to get through this rough period. The pandemic’s effect on small business and restaurants has been deadly even though some establishments are providing delivery and curb side pickup.
“Cash flow is our lifeblood. We look at that more than any other metric. When we bring in revenue, we’re using it to pay bills from 30, 45 days ago,” Colicchio told an interviewer recently. “I’m a news junkie, so I was aware of what Covid-19 was doing to China, and about a month ago I started to realize it had a real potential to spread around the world. I had seen Bill Gates talk about this, and it was clear we weren’t prepared, especially given how contagious this virus seemed to be. Meanwhile, we saw the leadership of the country in total denial. Listening to the president downplay the danger, I thought, “We’re screwed. We’re not going to have the response we need.””
Around the same time of Colicchio’s gut wrenching decision, in a parallel setting, a group of entrepreneurs and investors got together to provide a pathway—a bridge to get through the rough patch. Nihal Mehta, a co-founder of the New York-based venture capital firm Eniac, corralled his team to build a website and a Twitter presence (@helpmainstreet) featuring a directory of small businesses anyone could support.
“This was a way to do a small part to help immediate victims of COVID-19 while releasing some nervous anxiety working from home,” Mehta told Techcrunch. “We are hoping this will jumpstart a major crowdsourcing movement where merchants and customers alike will add [to the site].”
Colicchio and Mehta, who are both active on Twitter, will join the Club for a discussion about small business and the recovery ahead.
Please join us for this discussion that is sure to inspire and uplift you.
Please note that no refunds will be issued.
Chef, Restaurateur, TV Personality
Tom Colicchio is the chef and owner of Crafted Hospitality, which currently includes New York’s Craft, Riverpark, Temple Court, & Long Island’s Small Batch; Los Angeles’ Craft Los Angeles; and Las Vegas’ Heritage Steak and Craftsteak. Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Tom made his New York cooking debut at prominent New York restaurants including The Quilted Giraffe, Gotham Bar & Grill and Gramercy Tavern before opening Craft in 2001. Outside of his fine dining restaurants, Colicchio opened ‘wichcraft – a sandwich and salad fast casual concept rooted in the same food and hospitality philosophies as Craft – in New York City in 2003.
In an effort to broaden his long-standing activism around food issues, Tom served as an executive producer to the 2013 documentary “A Place at the Table” about the underlying causes of hunger in the United States. This eye-opening experience led Tom on a journey to Washington DC where he has been a mainstay in our nation’s capital in the years since. From holding members of Congress accountable on their voting records around food to working with former FLOTUS Michelle Obama on the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, Tom has established himself as the leading “Citizen Chef” advocating for a food system that values access, affordability and nutrition over corporate interests.
Tom and his restaurants give back to the community by serving on the boards of Children of Bellevue, City Harvest, and Wholesome Wave.
Entrepreneur, Investor, Advisor
At Eniac Nihal is called the human Rolodex, thanks to the thousands of connections he has made with some of the world’s top companies and brands. He developed many of these connections over the past 20+ years while founding five tech startups. Prior to founding Eniac, Nihal was the founding CEO of LocalResponse, where he grew revenues 2153% in three years and landed them on Inc. 5000’s Fastest Growing Companies. Nihal also was the founding CEO for buzzd, the first real-time mobile cityguide, and ipsh!, one of the first full-service mobile marketing agencies in 2001, which was acquired by Omnicom (NYSE: OMC) in 2005.
Early in his career, Nihal honed his ability to spot top entrepreneurial talent by investing in Admob (acquired by Google), Swiftkey (acquired by Microsoft), Tapad (acquired by Telenor), Tala, and Uber to name a few. Because of his experience both building and funding top technologies, he frequently guest lectures at business schools around the country on entrepreneurship and mobile marketing and is published in over 15 books and white papers on the subject.
Nihal graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Philosophy and a BSE in Computer Science.
Partner, Vici Partners
Lance Stuart is a partner at Vici Partners. He has over 30 years of consulting and operating experience, principally in the U.S., Japan and China. Clients span industries from cosmetics and consumer electronics to software, chemicals, insurance, airlines and telecoms. He has been an investor, co-founder, CEO, COO and board member of several companies in the U.S. and Asia. He began his career as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company in New York then transferred to Tokyo.
Lance earned a B.S. in economics and marketing, cum laude, from Boston College and an MBA from Harvard Business School (’78), where he was awarded two academic scholarships. He was raised in Tokyo and is an active volunteer in several non-profit organizations including the Harvard Business School Club of NY, the Harvard Business School Association of Orange County and as a Council Member on the U.S.-Japan Council.
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