No more Soul Daddy

I was very disappointed this morning to hear that all 3 locations of the new restaurant Soul Daddy had been closed down. I’m not surprised but I feel bad for the owner Jamawn White. 

For those of you who do not watch reality TV, Soul Daddy was a restaurant that was featured on the NBC Television show “America’s  Next Great Restaurant.”  The winner of the show (Jamawn) was promised three restaurants across the country and the backing of 4 investors who are very experienced in the food business arena (see below). The show wasn’t great but I did watch each episode because for some reason I’m obsessed with the restaurant business.


I’m sure that Jamawn knows the restaurant business is a crap shoot but he had to believe that he would succeed with so many powerful and experienced people behind backing him up. That wasn’t the case as all 3 locations have now been shuttered.

Two of the locations were closed on June 14, just over a month after they opened. A published letter stated:

“The realities of running a restaurant are very difficult, more so with multiple locations in multiple cities. After a careful review of the business model and the performance of the restaurants, we have decided that our best opportunity for Soul Daddy’s success is to focus our efforts on establishing a solid footing in one location, building the brand, and developing the operations from there. We have decided to close our restaurants at Hollywood and Highland in Los Angeles and the South Street Seaport in New York, effective June 14, and focus on developing the best restaurant we can at the Mall of America restaurant in Bloomington, Minnesota. While it has certainly been a difficult decision, we believe this is the best approach as we work towards ongoing success for Soul Daddy.”

Jamawn was not notified of the closure and was surprised  to hear about it “This is the first I’ve heard of it. It’s put a real damper on the day,” he told the Star-Tribune, which reports he is moving to Minneapolis for “his year-long management training.”

What is Jamawn supposed to do now that they’ve closed down the third and final store in Minnesota just 2 months after opening?  Did he already move his whole to Minnesota for training?  Are the invesstors going to continue with the training or just cut him loose? I’m sure Jamawn has a bunch of other questions, as well.

Was the whole thing just a ratings grab by the network with no thought or consideration about what happens after the show airs? I have heard from a reliable source associated with another very popular reality show that it’s not uncommon for producers to care less about the participants.  In fact, if they could figure out a way to run the show without them, they would.  Really, WTH?

What went wrong and can be learned from this:

Some Thoughts: 

1. What credentials do “experts” in any field have and what will be their long term commitments when the dog and pony show is over? Do your homework.

2. Think twice before joining any TV reality show.

3. Stand your ground and don’t let the so called experts impact your vision for the product or service.

4. If the name of your restaurant is “Soul Daddy” don’t even try to make the food healthy. Make sure it tastes great, deliver a unique concept, and offer great service.

5. Do not open three locations at the same time for a product that has not yet been established.

6. Location, location, location. If you open a brick and mortar shop it must be in an area that caters to your target market.

7. Make sure you understand the small print in any contracts you sign and ask tough questions up front.

8. Make sure that the channels of communication are established (preferably in writing) and stay in the loop on everything.

9. Always have a contingency plan.

These are simple ideas, but many times great concepts fail because we forget to do the simple things.

What recommendations do you have for Jamawn?  What do you think about the investors?


One thought on “No more Soul Daddy

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