Takeaways from this episode:
Disrupt everything! — According to Stratis Morfogen, he has always been a disruptor. He was raised by a father who challenged the status quo and he has carried that tradition throughout his life and business.
Great Service No Matter Size — In 1997, Stratis Morfogen had a company that included himself, three other people, and a loud AOL modem. Even then, the company was recognized for their great customer service with the likes of Southwest Airlines, Amazon, and Wells Fargo.
Miracles Happen When You’re About To Give Up — Stratis Morfogen has been down and out before. He understands that it is difficult to see the other side when in the midst of hard times, but he is a testament to the benefits of perseverance.
Stratis Morfogen describes himself as an “inventor and creator in hospitality”. That’s an understatement. The author of “Be a Disruptor” and co-founder of Brooklyn Dumpling Shop and other innovative concepts in New York City prides himself on seeing the curve and also remaining ahead of it.
The year 2020 was a tough one that caused the restaurant industry to pivot like few others. However, already being adamant about touching the customer with hospitality, Stratis Morfogen was able to navigate the uncertain waters of the pandemic to open a groundbreaking restaurant in Brooklyn Dumpling Shop.
“I want to be able to tell my grandkids that during COVID 2020, I did something,” Morfogen said on the Restaurant Influencers podcast, hosted by Shawn P. Walchef of https://calibbq.media. That “something” was not initially starting another business. “At first, I started feeding health care heroes. New York Presbyterian was right next door. I started sending them there unannounced.”
His restaurant didn’t stay anonymous very long as restaurant branding on the bag tipped off the receivers of the benevolent donation. Not one to disclose charitable endeavors, Stratis Morfogen shunned the GoFundMe suggestions, but accepted help from other restaurateurs to increase the philanthropic efforts to impact more service workers to the tune of almost 9,000 meals served.
“These are things we need to learn from COVID,” he says. “In times of need, hospitality stands up.”
Typically, a change in circumstances creates opportunities. Morfogen took that opportunity to do what he has always done, push the envelope to better serve the customers.
Brooklyn Dumpling House took a crowd favorite from the popular Brooklyn Chophouse menu, and made it available for customers in a unique fashion. Brooklyn Dumpling House puts an update on an old-school quick service method, but adding technology to the classic Automat.
Stratis Morfogen spent years studying the Automat history, and more importantly, what made it fail and eventually phase out. He realized two things: it was missing technology, and the lack of human presence at any point in the transaction.
“People don’t want a relationship with a tin can,” Morfogen explains of the Brooklyn Dumpling House’s one-of-a-kind setup. ”I’ve created half the room as an automat, which is about 24 lockers, and the other half is a glass kitchen. So now you can actually see the product being made.”
Technology and customer service have always gone hand in hand for Morfogen.
Back in 1997, the entrepreneur would tell fellow business owners that a strong internet presence is paramount. To his chagrin, many of them are now bankrupt or out of business. Now, with what he labels as the “TikTok generation”, there are more digital aspects that need to be considered, explored, and truly embraced in order to remain a contender in the industry.
Stratis Morfogen has put that mindset into action by implementing an NFT Lounge in the Brooklyn Chop House. The exclusive lounge allows members to buy into its amenities on a tiered level. The initial rollout is just the beginning of his exploration of the metaverse as an asset to his business.
“If you don’t take the metaverse and NFTs seriously, you’re going to be left behind,” Stratis Morfogen passionately expresses. “Got to move everything to mobile. You got to take your social media serious.”
With all of the technological advancements in the hospitality industry, serving the customer remains king. Morfogen has built a reputation for excellent hospitality. In the early years of his internet business, he ensured that the customer experience was a memorable one.
“Our mission was to break down the computer screen, put our hand through the screen and shake the customer’s hand,” Morfogen says of his initial approach to hospitality.
Now, 25 years later, Stratis Morfogen is still up reading reviews, making adjustments where necessary, and maybe even answering a customer complaint from his personal phone at 3 o’clock in the morning.
That’s the determination, grit, and personal attention that has made him a success multiple times over.
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