How to Build (and Keep) a Restaurant Empire in Portland
For Portland restaurant owner David Machado, there’s always that moment when he knows a new restaurant has “hit”—when he knows he has a restaurant that’s going to last.
“I give my restaurants about one year to figure out if we have things right,” Machado said. “If, at the end of it, people are satisfied in the dining room and we’re financially stable, we’re good.”
The restaurant business is unlike others, he says. With most businesses, you have a sense of their potentials. “Restaurants are different,” Machado said. “You can get everything right and still fail. You can have the right location, the right menu and the right chef, and still fail.” Especially in an extremely competitive culinary city like Portland. Yet Machado has managed to found multiple restaurants in his career that have passed the one-year test, including his four current establishments: Tanner Creek Tavern, Altabira City Tavern, Citizen Baker and Nel Centro.
After the initial success of creating something that works comes the real challenge: protecting what you have. Sustaining a good restaurant is all about consistency, from the size of a salad to how your employees answer the phone. But it’s also about keeping your employees, your finances and your reputation safe, which requires the right insurance. And with recent technological advances posing more and more threats to safety and security, Machado knew he needed a modern approach to insurance that could inform him on the risks brought about by this new age.
“My industry is getting more complicated,” Machado said. “For example, taking someone’s credit card and how you handle that information. The possibility of your websites getting hacked. This industry is a target industry for easy lawsuits. These issues weren’t a part of our profession a decade ago.”
This is why, about three months ago, Machado switched his insurance to Fournier Group. Fournier Group is a Portland-based insurance agency that provides personal and business insurance and has years of experience working with restaurant owners and restaurant groups. Local food chain Laughing Planet and restaurant group Toro Brovo are two of their clients, for example. Machado liked the idea of an insurance agent who could offer advice based on their previous experience insuring restaurants.
“Fournier Group understands the complexity and the depth of the risks that lurk out there,” Machado said. “They bring a more modern, technological eye to what’s going on.”
For example, restaurants often use a digital point of sale system for transactions when meals are purchased. That system must be updated every so often to be compliant, or else the restaurant can be liable for issues involving credit card data such as fraud. Fournier Group assesses risks likes these and offers advice on how to mitigate them.
Over the last three months, Fournier Group has helped Machado bring all of his businesses under one umbrella and lower his premiums. “My risk management advisor is a great communicator and always gets back to me quickly with answers,” Machado said. Now, the Fournier Group team is helping put risk prevention policies and practices in place—things like training programs and establishing records of safety.
Though owning four restaurants and a consulting business can be extremely stressful, Machado is thankful to be doing it all in Portland. “I like that Portland is hyper-local about its food and food sources,” said Machado. “And who doesn’t love having great coffee, beer and wine in the market down the street? As chefs, we can get everything we want here.”
While this restaurateur is working to protect his restaurants that have made it this far, he’s also adding another project to his docket. Stay tuned for a wine bar and retail shop in the Lloyd District, coming in July 2019, showcasing the many wines that Portland is lucky to have in close proximity.