BrainStation is excited to kick off our Creators of Toronto series with none other than Nick Auf der Mauer, the mastermind behind Toronto’s Porchetta & Co. We were lucky enough to score some insight into Nick’s background and the hard work behind what is arguably Toronto’s tastiest sandwich – try and tell me you weren’t enticed by their House Special. Read on to learn more about what makes Porchetta & Co. so successful and some pretty great advice for all entrepreneurs.
Tell us a bit about your background. What educational/career path took you to where you are now?
I’ve been in the industry since I was 15, I started sweeping floors at McDonalds. I worked my butt off. I worked my way up the ladder at every job I had until I felt like there was no more room for me to grow and learn, and then I would move on. I attended Culinary School, but at the time it wasn’t something that I had the patience for, and I was learning more at work so I dropped out before the end of my first year.
Cooking and my hunger for knowledge and advancement became an obsession. It took me awhile to figure out ultimately what I wanted to do with my career, but I always knew that I wanted to have my own business some day. As I grew up in the industry, I realized that what I wanted was something simple, something small, and something that would last and stand the test of time. For me, the idea of a sandwich shop had always appealed to me on a subconscious level to some degree as something I wanted to create.
How did Porchetta & Co. come to be?
Porchetta & Co. was born from a desire to do something different and the identification of a niche market that was not being explored to its potential. At the time (2010) there wasn’t any chef driven micro focused shops that were taking restaurant quality food and serving it in a casual environment like Porchetta & Co. We kind of broke the mould a little bit in Toronto and since then many other chef driven take out shops have opened. I basically established a dish that nobody was doing in the city at the time, used my background as a chef to make it happen and put it in a package that would resonate with a lot of people. Plus a lot of luck!
Porchetta & Co. has an incredible social media following. Are there any specific tactics you used to accomplish this?
People eat with their eyes first! If it doesn’t look good why would anyone want to eat it? But thats only half of the battle. IT HAS TO TASTE GOOD! You can take nice photos all day long and get people to come in and buy it, but if it doesn’t taste good then what is going to bring them back or make them tell their friends about your place? You need to maintain your reputation and give people a reason to talk. When it comes to restaurants, social media has become a major force in driving business towards our doors. Because we offer specials weekly we need an outlet in order to get the message out. Twitter & Instagram specifically have been MASSIVE assets to Porchetta & Co. and have cost nothing but our time.
How do you see technology adding value to your business?
Technology equals speed. Everything is moving so fast these days and it requires staying on top of the latest technology in order to stay competitive. The trick is maintaining the human quality or edge to it. You still want a person physically taking a customer’s order but the device that the order is being tabulated on can make a big difference in the amount of time it takes to fulfill the order. Online ordering is another area of business that has dramatically improved and made it easier for the guest to place their order.
Any advice for future students looking to make their mark in their respective industries?
Ask yourself what you want. This will point you in the direction of where you should be going. Set some realistic goals, achieve them and set some new ones and don’t stop doing that. EVER! Always be thinking a couple of steps ahead and prepare yourself for the worst. Take risks but make sure they are well calculated so that those risks become opportunities. Never settle for second best and keep your distance from people that prevent you from success. Think outside of the box and you will be able to write your own rules. Don’t be afraid to fail and if you do (you will at some point), come back stronger then before. Never give up.
Are there any creators you’re dying to hear from? Let us know in the comments and we’ll try our best to feature them.