Standard Burger was one of the few businesses in the Great Kills neighborhood left relatively untouched by Hurricane Sandy. Following the storm, the restaurant quickly became a center for the community to gather, collect donations and seek solace.
Despite becoming a beacon for the local community, Standard Burger suffered from mismanagement and a loss of clientele that followed the storm. It was because of this that Joe Tranchina and his four business partners decided to turn to CNBC’s reality show “The Profit” and its star, business mogul, Marcus Lemonis, to turn things around.
Metro spoke with Joe Tranchina to get the insider's view into the upcoming episode featuring Standard Burger, and what he and his business partners learned from Marcus.
Why did you apply for "The Profit?"
We have been trying since we opened. We opened in September 2012 and ever since we opened we ran across obstacles, whether it was Hurricane Sandy that wiped out the neighborhood, or financial woes because of the customer base being depleted from Sandy.
We had been trying to get our restaurant to the next level, to try and have it become a household name. But because of all the hurdles that we had come across, we didn't have the financial stability to do that.
Having Marcus come in, just for his business prowess alone, was really why we were contacting him. Also, we were kind of broken a little bit with what we had originally planned to accomplish and what we were actually accomplishing.
What do you mean by "broken?"
We all have other businesses that we're all owners of and we're all alpha males -- so much so that you could say, when we get together, we were all telling 30 different people 30 different directions to move in. It was just a big mess.
So Marcus came in and said "Hey listen, you're in charge of this, you're in charge of this, and you're in charge of that and nobody should switch lanes into anyone else's speciality area and we'll have one of the best teams around."
I don't like to pat myself on the back, but we all seem to be pretty intelligent and pretty successful, so if we all just stuck to what we were good at we'd probably have a great product and restaurant concept.
Now we're doing really well. The relationships are much stronger. We're all either related or have been friends for 20 to 30 years so -- that was the best thing for me, I got my friendships back.
Tell us more about how Hurricane Sandy affected Standard Burger.
We were open for less than 15 days before we got hit with Sandy and the whole neighborhood was completely wiped out. People were just gone.
For us, we were lucky enough to be one of the only businesses, pretty much the only one you could see for miles, that still had electricity and didn't have any water damage.
We wound up becoming the neighborhood beacon. People were coming and sleeping here, charging their phones; this was like a central drop-off for donations. We were using [Standard Burger] as a hub for people to pick up food and clothing. The neighborhood that did get to stay here after Sandy become very loyal customers.
Standard Burger has been open for two and a half years now, but we've just been paying our bills, and most of the time we're in the red.
We love being Standard Burger; we love coming here; we love the people that are our customers. We supported the restaurant for a long period of time without closing our doors, even though a lot of other people would have packed up and left.
What's the toughest part about starting a restaurant?
For me personally, the toughest part about starting a restaurant was the feedback. At Standard Burger you have different people that come in on different days with different opinions of your food. They post stuff online and rip you apart -- some days there are great reviews and some days the restaurant had a bad day and there are really bad reviews. Part of being a part of this is being able to digest those without not sleeping at night.
What are Standard Burger's dreams and aspirations?
We really do want to bring Standard Burger to the masses. We want to have a Standard Burger in every major city. With a partner like Marcus, we know that's possible now. I don't think it's going to happen overnight, but at least now we have the strategic partner to make that happen.
The Profit airs on Tuesdays at 10pm ET/PT on CNBC.
Matt Lee is a Web producer for Metro New York. He writes about almost everything and anything. Talk to him (or yell at him) on Twitter so he doesn’t feel lonely @mattlee2669.