On this episode of Ipso Facto with Robert Wuhl, the host conducted a laid back interview with renowned restaurateurs Drew Nieporent and Stephen Starr about their insights into the service industry.

Both restaurateurs stressed that the key to creating a successful eatery is establishing an appealing tone, a big part of which is to give a restaurant an idiomatic and elegant design. Starr described the role of the restaurateur as analogous to an executive producer in the film business who must keep a variety of clashing personalities focused on a singular goal.

Wuhl also broached the subject of last-minute cancellations. Starr has an ambivalent attitude on the subject because of the sheer number of cancellations that he deals with every weekend, while Nieporent takes each one personally and has instituted a controversial policy in order to curb his losses.

Finally, when asked to give advice to aspiring restaurateurs, Nieporent said that a restaurant’s success or failure is determined by the execution, not the concept, while Starr noted that one needs more than positivity to make it in the service industry and that neophytes need to “have enough money to survive past opening day.”

Listen to the whole, occasionally profane, conversation here:

Mario McKellop is a freelance writer who has covered the pop culture beat since 2010.

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