Alex & Bryan discuss woodworking, trust, and quality furniture, then visit an entrepreneur who really tells it like it is: James Beard-award winning chef Michael Schwartz. They dine at his flagship restaurant, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, and talk to Schwartz about his restaurant’s place in the history of Miami’s Design District. But Michael does more than just manage restaurants, he owns a thriving catering business and runs programs to increase access to healthy food for school children. Bryan hatches a plan for how AVs can help streamline all this work.

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Episode Transcript

Alex Roy
Hello and welcome to No Parking. As always, I’m Alex Roy, here with my friend and co-host Bryan Salesky. A lot of people don’t know that the co-founder of Argo AI is an expert in grommets. If you want a piece of furniture built and you want it to last…if you want it to be a piece of furniture that—

Bryan Salesky
If by deploying a grommet or two in my life as a woodworker means I’m an expert, then I suppose, yes.

Alex Roy
Well, when I buy a piece of furniture, I want to know that I can trust it. Will it open and close 10 years from now reliably? Will it topple if I pull out the top drawer too far? Or is it weighted correctly? Trust is the grease of our times.

Bryan Salesky
Are you able to evaluate the joinery of a piece of furniture? We’ll go to the furniture store sometime.

Alex Roy
When you say evaluate

Bryan Salesky
Yeah.

Alex Roy
You mean visually inspect for it’s—

Bryan Salesky
Yeah. Well, I mean, you don’t like kick or tap the side of it. It’s kind of like my grandpa used to used to kick the tire of the car, it’s sort of fun.

Alex Roy
I would not say [raps on the podcast table].

Bryan Salesky
Seems well-built.

Alex Roy
I would not say that I’m a furniture expert. But I can tell, when I to go to Ikea, that I am purchasing value, but not necessarily quality.

Bryan Salesky
There’s some pretty quality Ikea stuff, you’ve just got to know what you’re buying.

Alex Roy
Yeah. I also know that, I’m hard on furniture.

Bryan Salesky
That’s shocking. It’s really shocking. You put furniture through its spaces, do you?

Alex Roy
My father bought some Spanish drawers, like a cabinet and a dresser in…like 1955. I still own them today and they’re awesome. Like really-

Bryan Salesky
Do they have lead paint? I hope not.

Alex Roy
It probably does, that would explain my entire career. That’d explain a lot. You like to eat, right?

Bryan Salesky
I’m a fan of food.

Alex Roy
I’m also big fan of food. We have Michael Schwartz, his bio says he’s a cookbook author, and the owner of the Genuine Hospitality Group. He’s a James Beard award winning chef, which means it’s good. You’re going to like it. He owns 10 restaurants. Just the other day, Bryan and I, ate at his restaurant, Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in Miami. It was awesome.

Bryan Salesky
It was excellent food.

Alex Roy
And not just because he-

Bryan Salesky
In fact, I think chef Michael Schwartz was actually at the bar while we were eating. We spotted him with none other than Tyler Florence.

Alex Roy
I thought you were going to say Tyler the Creator.

Bryan Salesky
No, he’s another celebrity chef, Tyler Florence.

Alex Roy
That’s always a good sign.

Bryan Salesky
He’s a big deal.

Alex Roy
The reason he came on the show is because the most important part beyond developing an autonomous vehicle that people trust they want to ride in, is the business component. Deploying the vehicles in communities and talking to business owners in those communities. About the relationship between getting around, doing business, building businesses, and just making it easier to live in that city. We wanted to go out and meet someone who’s changed the neighborhood by putting up not just this restaurant, but many restaurants around Miami, and helping develop those communities.

Bryan Salesky
It was a lot of fun. We got to learn quite a bit about Miami through his eyes, and through the eyes of someone who was a transplant there, didn’t know anybody, and ended up establishing a business.

Alex Roy
Let’s talk to Michael Schwartz.

Bryan Salesky
Thank you, I appreciate it. Congratulations to you. We were at your restaurant last night. Incredible.

Michael Schwartz
I hope so. I hope so. That’s our flagship baby. Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink. I think that’s where you were.

Alex Roy
That was delicious.

Bryan Salesky
That’s actually where.

Alex Roy
I was really amazed because I remember going to that neighborhood about 15 years ago.

Michael Schwartz
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alex Roy
It was tough spot.

Michael Schwartz
Yeah.

Alex Roy
I’m from New York, lower East side. I remember, I grew up downtown. Where I live now in the Bowery, used to be like gunfire every night.

Michael Schwartz
Love the Bowery, though.

Alex Roy
And now it’s gorgeous.

Michael Schwartz
Yeah. Yeah. I used to live in Alphabet City, on C between 4th and 5th.

Alex Roy
That’s a hip spot now.

Michael Schwartz
It was bad and now it’s a hip spot. Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink just celebrated its 12th anniversary. I remember taking my best friend there when we got the sign put up. It was a moment and the sign was up. He’s like, “Okay, but I’m not getting out of the car to look at the sign.” I’m like, “No, I’m opening a restaurant here.” But fast forward to now, and it’s like Rodeo Drive.

Alex Roy
I’m curious…when you first arrived there…what was the relationship between a business arriving in a neighborhood that’s a transit desert or a food desert? What’s the push-pull between transforming a neighborhood? Do you arrive, there’s no customers, you wait for them? How do you enter such a neighborhood and make it work as a business?

Michael Schwartz
Yeah, that’s a great question that you would think that I would be able to answer. Having activated neighborhoods in the past, I have no idea. For me, I didn’t think about any of that. I just thought about a place where I could afford the rent, that was accessible for people from all over parts of Miami, Miami Beach, and North and South, and that neighborhood. Where I could just land. Thinking about it now … because there is something to be said for opening a restaurant where people already are. It’s sort of the path of least resistance. Like you need people, go where the people are. Even if you have to pay more rent, there’s a math equation that would support doing that. But I was a dumb ass and I didn’t know.

Alex Roy
You can’t say, that’s not true. It’s impossible.

Michael Schwartz
That I’m a dumb ass?

Alex Roy
Yeah, I mean—

Michael Schwartz
Well, it’s debatable. I didn’t know any of that. I just opened a restaurant in a place where I thought people would come. Not knowing that it would turn into this Haute couture retail mecca where Hermes has a flagship store. Like that wasn’t the plan.

Bryan Salesky
Let’s face it, good food connects people. It brings people together. So even if it was a little bit of a food desert at the time. I mean that’s a draw.

Michael Schwartz
Yeah, I think so. You’re right. Food connects people and people love to connect around food. We’re seeing that now with shopping centers and malls, that are getting killed by online activity. That need restaurants now to legitimize their place for people to go and meet.

Michael Schwartz
I think definitely the internet has changed how we feel about looking at locations and whatnot.

Alex Roy
I’m curious…you talk a lot about democratizing food or access. When you arrived there, the food’s delicious…but the price is actually pretty reasonable. Who was coming to the restaurant? Like was it locals? Were there any locals?

Michael Schwartz
Yeah, yeah.

Alex Roy
How are they getting there?

Michael Schwartz
Yeah, the restaurant was open for locals. The price point was much different at that point. It was much more affordable. I mean now, the rents are higher there. Like I said, it’s sort of Rodeo Drive-esque. But it was designed for people … it really wasn’t designed … it was always an inside out sort of concept. If the locals come, the tourists will come. It was really built for locals. People that lived wherever. They live on South beach, they’re coming. If they lived in Morningside or Bellmead or all these neighborhoods, that was what the restaurant was designed for. I think that once that word gets out and it’s a place where locals go, then tourists will find it. And they did.

Alex Roy
Well, let’s go back in time. When one opens a restaurant, some people are attracted to opening a beautiful place and having a scene. I guess actual cooking. Then the other end, you have people who want to automate the entire business of feeding people.

Michael Schwartz
Right.

Alex Roy
Did you go into this as a labor of love? I mean-

Michael Schwartz
Oh yeah.

Alex Roy
But it’s political, too. Because you wanted to make good food. No one goes into the restaurant business saying, “I want to make James Beard level food, but I’m going to make it cheap.” Like…what was your calculus?

Michael Schwartz
Right. Hopefully nobody goes into the restaurant business thinking they’re going to get rich either. It’s definitely a labor of love. It’s just what I had always done, my whole life. I started cooking when I was a kid and loved it, and appreciate it, and enjoyed it for what it was. At a time when it wasn’t about celebrity at all. Showing my age, I’ve been cooking for about 40 years in a restaurant. 40 years ago there wasn’t Food Network and there wasn’t celebrity. It wasn’t about that. Labor of love, for sure. And still is. I know a lot more now than I did then about margins and about running a business. But if it leans too heavy on one side and not the other, I think it strips the creativity and the spontaneity out of a restaurant. Which is usually the thing that makes it special.

Bryan Salesky
I want to connect a couple things together. We’re working at Argo on building self driving vehicles. We’re taking them to some of the most challenging driving environments around the US. Miami being-

Michael Schwartz
Bienvenidos a Miami!

Bryan Salesky
Si! What we’ve found is this is an incredible city, a very, very welcoming community-

Michael Schwartz
Is that right?

Bryan Salesky
—to what we’re doing.

Michael Schwartz
Are you sure?

Bryan Salesky
Absolutely. Positive-

Michael Schwart…
Are you sure about that?

Bryan Salesky
I’m positive. In fact, we were in a car the other day and someone on a motorcycle pulled up. We rolled down the window and the driver had a great conversation. He was asking all sorts of questions about the technology and when can I get into one and so on. Everyone asks some really incredible questions and really wants to know more and more about what we’re doing. But what’s interesting is, I think there’s some parallels to what you’ve had to build here and what we’re going through right now. Because we’re trying to understand the community, understand the transportation issues. We’re trying to understand more about what people want, what some of the challenges are in the city. What sort of perspective do you have on that?

Michael Schwartz
Yeah, I would say the first thing that comes to mind for me is, how do you do that like in a minute? Or in a week, or a month, or even a year? Because I’m still trying to figure it out. I’ve been here 25 years. I think that what you’re doing is great. You’re integrating in the community, you’re talking to people, you’re experiencing Miami for better or for worse. All the great things about it and all the not so great things about it.

Alex Roy
Tell us about the not so great things.

Michael Schwartz
Well I love Miami. In a public forum, I will not say anything bad about Miami. Not one thing. But there is this one thing … no, I’m just kidding. It’s the grass is always greener theory.

Alex Roy
Here’s the thing I’ve observed, and I’m sure you know this. When I was living here and it was brief, part of the brevity was because of this problem. I really wanted to live on South Beach.

Michael Schwart…
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alex Roy
I lived on the intersection of the Causeway and on the West side of South Beach. Nobody wants to walk 10 blocks to get to a restaurant near Collins. But then after a while I realized all my local friends, none of them drove. They would take cabs or hire a driver. This was 15 years ago.

Michael Schwartz
Right.

Alex Roy
If you want to show off, like I used to…Miami Beach is a horrible place to do it … the traffic sucks. You want to have dinner, it’s a huge operation.

Michael Schwartz
Yeah.

Alex Roy
Last night at Michael’s Genuine, I noticed that the street was fairly clear of traffic. There was open parking and our show’s called No Parking. But there was actually some parking. The valet was only $5.

Michael Schwartz
Parking’s an issue. But I think parking’s changed now because people are using ride share services. I don’t think parking is as big an issue in Miami as it is in some other cities.

Alex Roy
It sure is on South Beach, though.

Michael Schwartz
Yeah. But South beach has changed a lot. When I moved here, South Beach was the place. And you wouldn’t live here or downtown. I think that that’s changed drastically. Now with the design district and Wynwood and Midtown and Brickell and all these areas…people are moving to places like this on Biscayne Boulevard. That wasn’t the case then. It was like if you move to Miami and didn’t live on Miami Beach, you were a loser. Now if you live on Miami Beach, you’re a little crazy. Because it’s jam packed and hard to get around. We’re just happy to get a valet ramp and have valet that’s affordable for people. Because on Miami Beach, the valet is usually about 20 bucks. At least.

Alex Roy
Pure criminality.

Michael Schwartz
Then you wait a half an hour to get your car. Then you get in your car and you’re stuck in traffic. It’s not ideal. I don’t know.

Alex Roy
How do you get around?

Michael Schwartz
I drive. I’m old school. I still drive. Most people, now like it’s interesting, I have three kids. One 22 year old who got her driver’s license on her 16th birthday. I have a 19 year old who still doesn’t have a driver’s license, not interested. She gets around on a ride share. Then a 16 year old who’s chomping at the bit to get a license because he just wants to be cool. But a lot of people that I know, when they go out they Uber or Lyft or ride share. I still like to kind of drive.

Bryan Salesky
One of the things you do with the restaurant is you’ve been talking a little bit about farm to table. I got to imagine there’s actually a logistics issue here. Because you want the produce and everything else to be as fresh as possible. Is there an opportunity in helping to solve a transportation problem around getting product to the … and help the farmers out?

Michael Schwartz
Yeah, that’s a good question. Because farmers are really good at one thing like growing shit. And really not great at like getting it to you.

Bryan Salesky
Exactly.

Michael Schwartz
I’ve dealt with that for a long time. But for a long time we employed a full time forger for our restaurants that would go, make the connections-

Bryan Salesky
Another job.

Michael Schwartz
To get the stuff and bring it back. Now there’s companies that started that are like middlemen companies, that will go and distribute local product and that’s helpful. But I think any direct link between farmer and what they’re growing and the end user is awesome. Any way to get that product from point A to point B the quickest, cheapest way. There’s definitely use for that.

Bryan Salesky
I think I’ve seen some of the articles where you were talking about how it’s restaurants that prioritize this, it has a meaningful impact on their bottom line. It keeps them in business.

Michael Schwartz
Here’s what I would say to that, if you’re committed to farm to table, sourcing locally, supporting local agriculture, artisan product, whatever it is. Your costs are higher than if you would just buy that stuff from Sysco or one of your purveyors. And not know where it came from. Unless you’re really good, and locked in, and are able to take massive amounts of bumper crop product, and process it into your menu. Unless you’re good at that, you’re paying more for local product. It doesn’t make sense, really. But that’s just the truth.

Bryan Salesky
But what you find is that at least the clientele here, they appreciate it because they appreciate the freshness. I mean that’s what makes it worthwhile then?

Michael Schwartz
I think for me, I always say the secret to good food is good food. If you’re buying good quality product, then people are going to know one way or another. You could announce it on your soapbox, “Hey, I buy locally.” Or you can just make the food and people will know that there’s something that they’re attracted to about going to your restaurant.

Bryan Salesky
In the tech world, we call it garbage in, garbage out. Basically, if you put garbage into an algorithm, you’re not going to get a good results.

Michael Schwartz
That’s right.

Bryan Salesky
It’s the same thing.

Michael Schwartz
It is the same thing. People might not be aware consciously of why they like to go to a restaurant. For me, it’s so much more than just the food. It’s about an experience. And somebody that’s providing that experience and guiding you through it. What you’re listening to and how you feel. And all of that. We invest in quality.

Bryan Salesky
That’s one application I was thinking about. The other is, we’re all about solving transportation problems. An autonomous vehicle is only useful if it’s doing good things for the community at the end of the day. So we have an opportunity in the future, hopefully solve some of these logistics challenges. It’s not just about … we talk about ride hailing all the time and moving people. But there’s also the concept of moving goods and helping out businesses that didn’t have affordable options to get product to where it needed to go.

Michael Schwartz
Which is interesting, because I think that people don’t think about that.

Bryan Salesky
No, they don’t.

Michael Schwartz
When they hear about this technology. It’s just about moving people.

Bryan Salesky
Exactly.

Michael Schwartz
But yeah, it occurred to me when you asked about getting product from a farm.

Bryan Salesky
The second one I was thinking about, which is also inspired from, I think, some philanthropic work that you were doing. You guys planted a garden at Overton school.

Alex Roy
Overton.

Bryan Salesky
Was that right?

Michael Schwartz
Yeah, we did some work with some schools and school gardens.

Bryan Salesky
It sounded like it really helped turn around that school in some ways. It’s small things that matter. I’m sure that wasn’t the only thing, but we all know that kids who are getting nourishment, wealth fed. They’re going to pay more attention, they’re going to do better in school. It’s little details like that that can make a huge impact in their lives.

Alex Roy
Were you teaching cooking there, too? What were you teaching?

Michael Schwartz
Yeah, we do a lot of stuff with schools. Currently we’re working with a program called Wellness in Schools. It basically teaches cafeteria workers how to make better food. For us, to navigate some of the red tape to get better food in the systems-

Alex Roy
The public schools?

Michael Schwartz
Public schools. Then to educate the kids about it. It’s a process. And it’s a longterm proposition. But if you can get people to start thinking about better food, it’s a generational thing.

Bryan Salesky
Things that are worth doing often time are long game things, is the way I look at it. Where I was going with it is I think that … I don’t know a ton about the food kitchen world. But can you imagine that if in every city where there’s an underperforming school. If the restaurants in that area devoted some of their kitchen time during the down night hours, in order to develop meals for kids that don’t have that accessibility. Then we’re able to help move those meals in an efficient, low cost manner to those schools. That’s yet another thing. It’s about stitching together the community. That’s what we’re looking at is, what are the different applications that we can find to do that?

Michael Schwartz
What are some of those?

Bryan Salesky
Well, this is the example. If there was a way to … I assume that you’re in the food business, not in the transportation business. You correct me if I’m wrong about that. But if we can help get food to where it needs to go in a more efficient manner.

Michael Schwartz
Well, let’s talk about that for a second, if you don’t mind.

Alex Roy
I was going to ask, that’s my next question.

Bryan Salesky
I’m not talking about taco delivery.

Michael Schwartz
Well, we’re talking about like Uber Eats and Postmates. These third party businesses and business models that are based around getting food into people’s homes so they don’t have to cook. It’s huge business right now as I’m sure you’re aware.

Alex Roy
As a New Yorker especially.

Michael Schwartz
Yeah. And it costs us a fortune.

Alex Roy
I mean, we could talk about that. I mean, are you referring to them as net benefits because they expand your clientele? Or a pest parasites because they eat into your margin?

Michael Schwartz
Depends how you look at it. I mean we like to think that it’s incremental. And it’s a billboard effect and these people are helping to promote our restaurant. We’re getting sales that might not normally occur. But restaurants are building this model into their model and their build out.

Bryan Salesky
Well there’s a transportation issue there certainly, because there’s a timeline there that needs to be met. For the food to arrive in a good condition. But there also needs to be changes to the preparation of the food. You have to think about that on the front end or else when it arrives, it’s just not going to be very good.

Michael Schwartz
That’s right. That’s right. But it’s changed, it’s sort of thrown the restaurant industry for a loop.

Alex Roy
I mean, it sounds like what you really want to maintain is a direct relationship with your customer.

Michael Schwartz
Always.

Alex Roy
I mean, that’s really the code, what you’re saying.

Michael Schwartz
Sure.

Alex Roy
Like has technology improved your bottom line?

Michael Schwartz
It’s hard to say. It should.

Alex Roy
Because that’s our goal is for our technology to improve the bottom line of anyone who lives or works or does business in the neighborhoods where we deploy it.

Michael Schwartz
It’s hard to say. Has this smartphone made my life easier and more efficient?

Alex Roy
Has it?

Michael Schwartz
Or has it just consumed me into the technology rabbit hole? I don’t know. It’s hard to say. It’s hard to say what it would be like without it. But restaurants used to pick up the phone, and take an order, and deliver it in a car. That they would have to pay for, and pay insurance on, and liability, and all of that. Now you could just give it to a guy, even though you’ve got to pay him 30%. I don’t know man.

Alex Roy
At the end of the day, I mean, it seems like you are happiest having a direct relationship with the people eating the food that you prepare.

Michael Schwartz
Sure.

Alex Roy
Meaning they come here.

Michael Schwartz
Yeah.

Alex Roy
Because that’s how you build community.

Michael Schwartz
Or I could personally deliver to their homes.

Alex Roy
Have you ever done that?

Michael Schwartz
Never did.

Bryan Salesky
You shouldn’t think about doing that. You could charge probably a markup for that.

Michael Schwartz
Exactly.

Bryan Salesky
Risk is they’re going to ask you for some cooking lessons or something.

Michael Schwartz
Yeah, exactly. It’s called catering.

Alex Roy
It’s interesting that relationship, because when I lived in Paris after college. There was an Indian restaurant across from my apartment. They did not appear to have a delivery policy and I was used to that because I’m from New York. So I went down there and I said, “Guys, look. If I call you and I want the meal delivered, would you do that?” They looked at me like I was crazy. I went back to my apartment and I called them like 15 minutes later and I gave him the list of things I wanted. And they said, “Oh, we’ll be there soon.” An hour later, the owner arrives with the chef, and the manager, and two servers with actual plates. Brought the dishes and laid it all out and stood there while we ate it.

Michael Schwartz
Really?

Alex Roy
Yeah.

Michael Schwartz
That’s not sustainable.

Alex Roy
No.

Michael Schwartz
And awkward.

Alex Roy
But I admired the efforts so much that I went back there every time I go back to Paris, I eat there. I always remember that relationship, like the level of respect of a business and how they treated me.

Michael Schwartz
Our business is no different than any other business. It’s about relationships. The better we can build them and nurture them and the better our business is going to be. That’s what the restaurant business is. Is creating memories.

Alex Roy
Efficiency in the restaurant business. So I was watching this movie about McDonald’s and they were mapping out the kitchen. She’s like, “We can make this kitchen more efficient.”

Michael Schwartz
Yeah, I saw that movie.

Alex Roy
Every single percentage point improvement, makes a difference. Whether it’s something that’s technical, or logistics, or efficiency. How has that changed over time for you?

Michael Schwartz
Well, it’s ruined my life. I’ll tell you why because-

Bryan Salesky
Great question Alex.

Michael Schwartz
Exactly. Thanks man. No, I think efficiencies in our businesses is everything. To a normal person, it’s annoying as hell to hear about how you could do that and save five minutes. Or you’re doing something that is completely inefficient. To the point where we as chefs in restaurant business, we’ll often run our personal lives as if we’re running a restaurant. Does that make sense to you?

Alex Roy
Unfortunately, yes.

Michael Schwartz
I’ve been often accused of talking to my wife like she’s an employee. Or the kids are running the house like it’s a restaurant. It’s funny. Our executive team, which prides itself on really getting shit done. Just we laugh about it, because we know how annoying it is to other people in terms of just wanting to be maximum efficiency oriented all the time. So it consumes us.

Bryan Salesky
But that’s why you have a great business. I mean operations is really just about details. It’s what it is at the end of the day.

Michael Schwartz
Yeah. You could get caught up in that and then lose sight of the bigger picture. That’s why, like for me, I’m fortunate to have a business partner who lives in his business model and margins and live outside the fray of operations. To remind me that those things are important. It’s not just about running around and getting shit done.

Bryan Salesky
That’s important. But the obsession to detail is really the difference maker in my mind from a good business to a great business. I mean, as an example, last night Alex got a smudge on the menu and within 20 seconds it got replaced with a fresh one. It was impressive.

Alex Roy
What was it? There was a dip and it looked like it shouldn’t be as sticky as it was. But it was. I had like the fried chips.

Bryan Salesky
It was like a-

Michael Schwartz
Oh yeah, pan fried onion dip.

Bryan Salesky
Yes. Yeah, it was incredible.

Alex Roy
This viscosity of it was such that if you-

Bryan Salesky
What was odd about it was when you pulled the chip out, it had like-

Alex Roy
An elasticity.

Bryan Salesky
An elasticity. But it was actually the onion, I realized afterwards.

Alex Roy
Then I was tipping the fried pig ears into it and mixing the flavors.

Michael Schwartz
The pig ears into the onion dip.

Alex Roy
Yeah, then the thing that just glopped onto the menu.

Bryan Salesky
It got complicated. But the point was, Alex, the menu got replaced with a fresh one and it’s because Robin who was an amazing server that night-

Alex Roy
Like a combat trained octopus. He just rolled in.

Bryan Salesky
That’s correct. He took care of it. Like you can’t make that stuff up. I don’t even know if that’s in the training or not. But it doesn’t matter, the point is you clearly have some amazing people-

Michael Schwartz
Yeah.

Bryan Salesky
That attention to detail-

Michael Schwartz
And I appreciate it.

Bryan Salesky
Customers notice it.

Michael Schwartz
I appreciate that. Us hammering that stuff into their brains for 10 years is that. It’s great as an guest to appreciate that. But it’s annoying as hell being that guy’s partner or friend. Just having him behave like he’s your server all the time.

Bryan Salesky
Yeah. You and I are sharing the same company there. I feel like a pariah some days when it’s like we go and look at some of the logs from how our vehicles behaving. And say, “Look, we need to give a little more space, or we should have nudged a little bit differently on the road, or we should have taken that turn slightly differently.” I’m my worst critic in a lot of them a lot of ways. I’m not sure that people notice-

Alex Roy
I notice.

Bryan Salesky
Well this is the thing, but then I think about my experience at a restaurant and I noticed the details now. Am I just wired in a twisted, messed up way? Probably.

Michael Schwartz
I think so.

Bryan Salesky
Yeah.

Alex Roy
Speaking of details-

Bryan Salesky
Probably.

Alex Roy
Earlier you were saying, “Oh well, I’m a software guy.” And you’re a chef. But at the end of the day, there are things you can automate. There are things that a human being has to be involved in. How much time do you spend creating dishes, training your, I guess, chefs to recreate those dishes and double checking? Because you can’t automate them … I mean, the process is a form of automation, human automation. But you have to look for, what we call edge cases. Like how much time do you actually spend training them and overseeing them?

Michael Schwartz
Not enough time. There’s not enough hours in the day. But I mean, for me, I like to think that we hire intelligently and let people do what we hire them to do. Transfer that message of what we do in Genuine Hospitality to them. Let them create and do what they do best. I spend a good deal of time developing. But more time hoping they execute.

Alex Roy
What does the feedback loop for mistakes or errors in the food preparation like?

Bryan Salesky
A really upset customer, Alex?

Alex Roy
I mean, how much taste testing goes on in the kitchen?

Michael Schwartz
That’s a great question. What we do best at a restaurant, like Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink. Is we cook spontaneously and seasonally. That means less time testing and perfecting. More time testing and perfecting as we go.

Alex Roy
So you’re continuously testing?

Michael Schwartz
Yeah, we print the menu every day. We add stuff every day. We leave that to the chefs and their creativity. Hopefully it goes well. But it’s not like every time there’s a menu change, I’m in front of it, testing it and tasting it.

Alex Roy
You’re not?

Michael Schwartz
No. Impossible. Not sustainable.

Bryan Salesky
You have to empower your people, at the end of the day-

Michael Schwartz
Yeah.

Bryan Salesky
That’s really important.

Michael Schwartz
And then you cross your fingers.

Alex Roy
This sounds familiar to me, Bryan. Does it sound familiar to you? Software development.

Bryan Salesky
You’ve been very empowered with this podcast, as an example.

Alex Roy
I mean, do you keep like a spreadsheet of things that people like or dislike and track them? Like is it like that level of detail?

Michael Schwartz
No, no. I have people that do that. I don’t do that.

Alex Roy
You like to eat?

Michael Schwartz
I have people that analyze the data and then report back to me. I’m like, “Joel, that’s so annoying.”

Bryan Salesky
All right-

Michael Schwartz
I do like to eat.

Bryan Salesky
Let’s get back to our quest to understand Miami better. Most people, when they get to know a city, you realize that it’s actually a bunch of cities within a city. I’m guessing Miami is not dissimilar. If you were to break up Miami into like cultures, districts, neighborhoods, types of … you could divide it up by food-

Michael Schwartz
Sure.

Bryan Salesky
I don’t know. What does it look like? How do you define it?

Michael Schwartz
Well, I don’t know. I never really gave it much thought. But I could tell you now. So you have South Beach. That’s mostly tourists driven. Then there’s the Design District, which is the new Rodeo Drive. Then there’s Wynwood, which is the Arts District. Then Brickell, which is the Business District. Then there’s Coconut Grove, which is old Miami.

Bryan Salesky
This is perfect. Do they each have different needs and wants from a food standpoint?

Michael Schwartz
Oh, probably.

Bryan Salesky
Do you look at it that way?

Michael Schwartz
Yeah, different demographics, too. You have a little Haiti, you have little Havana.

Bryan Salesky
Do you see different transportation problems across each of those different areas? How do you think of that? I don’t know.

Michael Schwartz
You tell me.

Bryan Salesky
Well that’s why we’re here. I mean-

Michael Schwartz
I don’t think about that.

Alex Roy
How far are your customers … you have regular customers, obviously.

Michael Schwartz
Sure.

Alex Roy
Then you have a tourist clientele.

Michael Schwartz
Yep.

Alex Roy
So your regular customers, how far are they coming to get to you? How are they getting to you?

Michael Schwartz
Some of them come from Fort Lauderdale.

Alex Roy
Really? And they spend the night or they drive out the way?

Michael Schwartz
They drive there and back, it’s about 20 – 30 minutes. Most of the tourists come from Miami Beach and the hotels.

Bryan Salesky
In Pittsburgh, we have different neighborhoods. It’s funny because you will see that people like from South Hills will never go to North Hills. It’s like a 30 minute drive, it’s not that big of a deal. I live in North Hills, last time I was in South Hills was probably like 10 years ago. It makes no sense. Now the geography, it’s sort of challenging to navigate in that city. Just because-

Alex Roy
Wouldn’t you go if it was a really good restaurant there?

Bryan Salesky
Well there are some pretty good restaurants there. Actually … well anyway. I wonder if the same thing happens here or actually there’s quite a bit of movement between the different areas?

Michael Schwartz
I think people venture out of their comfort zones.

Bryan Salesky
They do?

Michael Schwartz
Yeah. People will travel for food. We know that. That’s a common theme, I think anywhere. Whether they’re ride sharing or driving. Or now, like there’s the Bright Line, high speed rail that’ll take people from Palm Beach to Miami and then Fort Lauderdale to Miami.

Bryan Salesky
Yeah, Bright Line was a big deal for the city. I think it’s connected-

Michael Schwartz
I don’t think anyone in the city feels like it’s a big deal yet. I think that that’s a longterm proposition.

Alex Roy
I know some folks in Palm Beach who’ve taken it and love it. But other friends out here who’ve never heard of it.

Michael Schwartz
Yeah. I think Miami will take a while to connect with that. But the people that are using it are the people in Palm Beach and Broward.

Bryan Salesky
Got it. Well there’s a lot of potential there for that rail network-

Michael Schwartz
Totally.

Bryan Salesky
To really connect things together. What we want to do, is we want to find ways to compliment those systems that are in operation today. Look transportation is fundamental to knitting these neighborhoods together in a meaningful way. And to better people’s lives. We’re trying to figure out how best can we deploy autonomous vehicles to do something similar.

Alex Roy
When I was in Sonoma, I went on a wine tasting tour like 15 – 20 years ago. It was a bus and it was kind of, eh. Then last time I had a chauffeured car that just took me from like place to place and I love that. I would love-

Bryan Salesky
I mean you do have high standards, Alex.

Alex Roy
It wasn’t that expensive.

Michael Schwartz
Everyone loves a chauffeured car.

Bryan Salesky
Exactly.

Alex Roy
Here’s the thing, I did not want to drive because I was drinking. After I eat, I don’t want to drive either because I’ve had a few drinks and I’m stuffed.

Alex Roy
What percentage of people are using ride hailing today to come and go to your restaurants versus five years ago or three years? Has it radically changed?

Michael Schwartz
Radically changed. Yeah. I would say radically changed. As I said earlier, I mean, I’m still old school and I do like to drive. But if I’m drinking, I want to be careful and use the ride share. I think it’s a no brainer, really. I think the easier that becomes, the more people will migrate to it.

Alex Roy
You used to be a jeweler, what’s that about?

Michael Schwartz
When I had a life, I had a hobby.

Alex Roy
Then what happened to that hobby?

Michael Schwartz
I got too busy.

Alex Roy
How does dissimilar is jewelry design making versus food?

Michael Schwartz
Similar process. A little bit more intense, tedious, exact work. But yeah, it was a hobby that I enjoyed actually. Probably one day will get back to it.

Alex Roy
How’s your hobby going, Bryan?

Bryan Salesky
It’s going okay.

Michael Schwartz
What is your hobby?

Bryan Salesky
Woodworking.

Michael Schwartz
Woodworking?

Bryan Salesky
Really enjoy woodworking.

Michael Schwartz
Yeah, same.

Bryan Salesky
It takes your mind off of work. Like your primary … I mean, I love what I do. But sometimes you just need something else.

Michael Schwartz
I used to often times finish a shift at one o’clock in the morning, sit at the jewelry table and make jewelry.

Bryan Salesky
Does it calm you down?

Michael Schwartz
Yeah, a little bit.

Bryan Salesky
You just wind you down a little bit?

Michael Schwartz
Yeah.

Bryan Salesky
I find the same thing.

Michael Schwartz
How’s your hobby?

Alex Roy
Me?

Michael Schwartz
Yeah.

Bryan Salesky
What’s your hobbies these days?

Alex Roy
Well, it was driving, but traffic … at one time. Now I really enjoy not driving. I’ve just had a baby so and I have a Morgan 3-Wheeler, which is really dangerous and unreliable.

Michael Schwartz
Your hobby now is your baby.

Alex Roy
It’s figuring out how to put the baby seat in different vehicles. Or like the tray, the thing. I’m mostly just amazed at like the poor mechanical, just the poor design of baby transportation devices. We could do a whole other episode about that.

Bryan Salesky
That’s a whole adjacent business I hadn’t thought of.

Alex Roy
The whole thing. Well with AVs, we’ll get to that.

Bryan Salesky
Autonomous babies strollers?

Alex Roy
I think it’s probably a good way to wrap this up. Michael, if we want to find out more about you and what’s going on in your life. Are you active on social media? Too busy?

Michael Schwartz
Yeah, I’m on Instagram at chef @chefmschwartz. I think Twitter, too.

Alex Roy
S-C-H.

Michael Schwartz
S-C-H-W-A-R-T-Z. I’m on there. I think I’m on Facebook, Instagram.

Alex Roy
I saw you on Instagram, the tag was written, Michael’s Genuine was well-managed. Good job.

Michael Schwartz
Okay, good. Good, good to know.

Alex Roy
Thanks so much for coming down letting us-

Michael Schwartz
My pleasure. My pleasure. Bienvenidos!

Alex Roy
If you want to follow Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink on Instagram. They’re on Instagram @MichaelsGenuine. As for us, you can find me on all social media platforms. I’m @AlexRoy144 literally everywhere, but preferably Twitter or Instagram.

Alex Roy
Please like and follow the No Parking podcast on Twitter @NoParkingpod. We would’ve done ‘podcast’, the whole word, but we can only use 15 characters. You can check us out on the internet at www.noparkingpodcast.com. Where we offer complete transcripts of every episode for everybody who doesn’t feel like listening but wants to find those interesting quotes, that is where you would find them. If you would like to be a guest on our show or you know someone who likes to be a guest. Or you have any feedback of any kind, you don’t want to make public. You can just email us at guests@noparkingpodcast.com. Look forward to seeing you next week.