There’s a billboard above Amandine Patisserie Cafe in Brentwood, Los Angeles that says, “Good things come to those who wait.” The message serves as a reminder to owner Derek Chang that it’s been a long road to get to where he is today.
I got involved in the restaurant business right back when I was in college, helping my sister at a little restaurant in Santa Monica. I used to support her in front of the house. One day I went into the kitchen and saw that our cook had broken his arm and it was in a cast. I made a bet that I could learn everything I needed to become a chef.
Success from giving people what they want
It’s this determination— plus the sumptuous food at Amandine— that no doubt keeps the local movie and TV show-making crowd so loyal. “I had one customer stay at his seat for nine hours and order three meals,” Derek jokes. “Then again, I’ve also had Ellen DeGeneres and James Corden drop in. But I tell my staff, all three are just like any other customer. You do what you need to, to make them happy.”
I’m eager to find out what drove Derek to get into an entirely new form of cuisine more recently, with The Boil Daddy. But before that, I had to find out how he survived the pandemic at Amandine.
On the sixteenth of March 2020, Governor Newsom asked restaurants to shift to take-out only. And that day our sales dropped 90%. Three days later a statewide shelter-in-place order was issued. I’ve survived the Northridge earthquake and the L.A. riots. Neither had as much impact as this.
“I quickly realized that as people shifted to having food delivered at home, they were also looking for deals. So I took a bet on leaning in, and tried every promotion out there. And to this day I tell Alana, my DoorDash account manager: if you’re trying a new experiment, make me the guinea pig. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been able to make it work."
Understanding the power of marketing is in a tailored long term approach, Derek keeps first time and loyal customers in mind with targeted offers. For more information on boosting visibility to attract both new and existing customers, see DoorDash promotions.
Hard work pays off in customer loyalty
As we all know, anxiety or stress can make us reach for something salty, just as much as something sweet – which is where Derek's latest project, The Boil Daddy, comes in.
“The pandemic drove up demand for all kinds of comfort food,” says Derek. “But the previous option for boiled Cajun seafood in L.A. was, I think, a bit too salty for locals’ taste. At The Boil Daddy, we’ve substituted more garlic for salt.”
One of my jobs at DoorDash is figuring out the big bets we should take to grow our core business, but also building new ones on top of it— like connecting people to groceries, flowers, pet food, and other neighborhood needs. But, there are many people working to make all this happen with me. With far fewer resources, but also as a man who cares deeply about his family, I wondered what drove Derek to expand Amandine, first into Koreatown, then DTLA— let alone to take on The Boil Daddy.
“The truth is, it is more work. And my wife thought I was crazy when I first started. But I had been consulting for a while with the original founders of The Boil Daddy. Eventually, it just made sense to come on board full-time. Their original idea was broader, more of a cloud kitchen. But we refined it to the franchise operation it is now, where chefs get a leg up who might otherwise not get a chance to get on the entrepreneurial ladder.”
At both The Boil Daddy and Amandine, Derek doesn’t let inflation slow him down. As he puts it, “I don’t believe in cutting corners. I believe the only solution in this battle is to sell a lot of things. Margins are smaller, yes, but if you sell enough, then it works out.”
Improving the odds with DoorDash marketing promotions
Starting your own business— or trying to expand how many people your current one reaches— will always feel a bit like a gamble. To improve the odds, at DoorDash we offer a variety of marketing opportunities. DoorDash promotions generate an average of $5 in sales per dollar spent on marketing.
That’s where DoorDash comes in again: without the app, a lot of people wouldn’t discover us. Instead, I have people who order the same thing from Amandine, seven days a week! I could never get those same customers to actually come into the restaurant that often. And we make sure we send them a little treat now and then, to thank them for that loyalty.
Being on the DoorDash app puts your business in front of many more people than will walk past your physical location. But as Derek points out, before he leaves to pick up his kids from school: “I’ve realized that giving back equals getting more, because even when inflation and the pandemic recede, customers are still going to be looking for deals.”