It’s safe to say that Restaurant365 Solutions Engineer Kevin McTigue is a busy guy. On any given day, you may find Kevin working alongside restaurant operators to make their lives easier with technology solutions. Or you may find him hosting free educational webinars for industry professionals. Wherever you find Kevin, a rich knowledge of the restaurant industry and eloquence will follow. As you’ll soon see, there’s no mystery as to why we wanted to sit down with Kevin to learn about his experience in the industry, his daily work, and how he’s impacting restaurant workers across the country each day.
In becoming a restaurant accountant during his 10 years in the industry, he developed a deep understanding of what the importance of technology and successful operations look like. Today, he dedicates his time to helping operators achieve that. Read ahead to learn about how Kevin got started in the industry, the pivots along the way, and why he says being open-minded is the secret to a rewarding career.
A ‘Pizza’ Kevin’s Heart
What’s your favorite food?
Pizza. I could eat it for four meals a day, every day of the week.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
Oh man, I hate this question because I know as soon as I pick a place, another one will pop into my head. Plus, I feel like it changes all of the time. If I have to pick one, I’d say Saint Germain in New Orleans. They say their goal is to “recreate the feeling of eating at a chef’s home” and that’s exactly what it feels like. The dining room feels like an old living room, the tables are small, and they serve a constantly changing tasting menu that never ceases to amaze me. It’s not a weekly splurge but it’s my favorite spot for special occasions. If I get to pick two (please), then add Pizza Delicious in New Orleans to the list. They serve monster, NY-style pies and house-made pastas and they just landed at number 39 on the 2023 Top 50 Pizzas in USA!
How long have you been with Restaurant365?
21 months. I joined the company in October 2021 as a member of our Solutions Engineering team.
Big Meals, Bigger Dreams
Tell us about your time working in a restaurant.
My time that was technically “in a restaurant” was brief. The summer after high school, I was looking to mix it up after working as a lifeguard in previous years. A new Five Guys location was getting ready to open by my house, and I loved Five Guys (still do). Technically I was cashier, but I also did fries, prep, and opening and closing. The best part of the job was the daily shift meal. I probably couldn’t eat a double bacon cheeseburger per day at my age now, but back then it was glorious. The worst part of the job was either cutting onions (like, lots of onions) or carrying the five-gallon bucket of grill grease run-off 200+ feet to the grease dumpster in the back. I always wanted to try my hand at the grill station, but I guess they didn’t trust me with the flat top (probably because I could barely handle the heat of the fry station). Let’s just say that I was a better accountant than I was a restaurant employee, but I am so glad I got that experience before moving forward with my career.
How did your career path lead you to Restaurant365?
I finished college with an accounting degree and went to work for Harrah’s Casino New Orleans as an accountant. While I was there, I handled the financial reporting for the food and beverage outlets like the bars, restaurants, buffet, banquets, and employee cafeteria. It was a great experience, because I had the chance to really learn restaurant financial management while also learning the accounting best practices of a large organization. Unfortunately, the food and beverage outlets were viewed as ancillary to gaming revenue (i.e., we were feeding people to get them back to the tables and slot machines) so there weren’t a lot of creative opportunities to talk about cost-saving initiatives.
A couple of years after I started, my college roommate reached out because he and his brother were running a group of Middle Eastern restaurants in Chicago called Naf Naf Grill, and they needed some help with the accounting. I didn’t have any plans of leaving New Orleans, but I visited Chicago, their food was amazing, and their financials were impressive. Soon after, I joined Naf Naf as the first “corporate hire” when we had four locations just in Chicago, and we grew to over thirty locations in five states by the four-year mark. It was an absolutely wild ride. We were growing like crazy, and I knew I didn’t want to stay in Chicago long term (I wanted to get back to New Orleans), so I left and took a temporary job at another Chicago-based restaurant group, Protein Bar & Kitchen. Protein Bar was my first exposure to restaurant-specific accounting, because they were using Compeat Advantage and, man, how I wish we had that technology at Naf Naf. It was a total game-changer for my role. I quickly joined Protein Bar full-time but started planning my move back to New Orleans shortly after. I am forever grateful to the team at Protein Bar because they allowed me to go completely remote before it was so popular and move back.
Shortly after the Restaurant365-Compeat merger, I reached out to my old Compeat representative, and he asked if I had ever thought about coming to work for Restaurant365. I said that I had always been interested in tech but was never sure how to get my foot in the door. He encouraged me to apply, saying that they love to hire people from the restaurant industry, and I am so grateful that he did.
What do you like most about working for Restaurant365?
Kind of like the favorite restaurant question, I hate to pick one. If I have to pick, I’d say it’s the people (and yes, I know that’s cliché). I absolutely love my team and love working with people across different teams and disciplines. Our core values of “Share Positive Vibes” and “Solve Problems, Together” really resonated with me during the interview process, and it’s clear that they mean a lot to the people here that embody them every day. If I get to pick two, my second favorite thing is the reaction I get from a customer when they realize that something we’ve built will significantly change their lives, whether it makes them easier or gives them better access to better information. It reminds me of the feeling I had when I first fell in love with our products years ago.
How does your daily work impact our business and the industry?
The restaurant industry has notoriously slim profit margins and success metrics are measured in seconds, pennies, and hundredths of a percentage point. It can be really hard to measure success if you’re using a generic accounting system or if you’re spread across multiple technology solutions. I love having the opportunity to share my experience with restauranteurs and demonstrate how our solutions can help save time, boost sales and lower costs. I also love getting feedback from our current and new customers on the ever-evolving challenges they face to figure out how we can build new products to help meet their needs.
What impact can restaurant technology have on successful restaurant’s operations?
It can make or break your operation, in my opinion. If your technology is outdated or not user-friendly, your operators are not going to want to use the solutions properly or to their full potential. If your tech is prone to errors or crashes, it’s going to cause friction in your operations and you might find yourself spending more time fixing the solution than using it. And if your technology vendors don’t treat your relationship as a strategic partnership, then they’re not going to adapt their products or innovate to meet your needs. On the flipside, intuitive, reliable, and innovative solutions can revolutionize your business. If you have an easy-to-use applicant tracking system and HR solution, you’re going to reach more candidates and hire the best people. If your scheduling and inventory management systems are reliable and are paired with best-in-class support, your operators are going to be able to spend more time focusing on customers. And if you have automated, integrated accounting and data reporting systems, you’re going to identify problems and opportunities before they happen.
What advice do you have for current restaurant industry workers looking to grow their careers?
Be open to new opportunities but stay really focused on what’s important to you in the current moment. You might get an offer to lead a new opening in a new city or state, which can be exciting, challenging, and rewarding, but it can also mean long hours in a place where you don’t know anyone. You might say, “I could never do HR/Accounting/IT, I got into this industry use my creativity and make great food,” but some of the best administrative employees in restaurant companies know how to serve their internal customers because they’ve been in their shoes. I thought I liked being a restaurant accountant for the attention to detail it requires, but it turns out I like helping to build systems that help other people do their jobs.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I think I’ve probably talked too much already, no? Stay hungry. In restaurants, in your career, and in life. But also, enjoy every bite.