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The Secret Ingredient for Staying Popular & Profitable | FoodPower is a restaurant consulting firm that coaches industry leaders to leverage strengths, create concepts, refine menus & identify opportunities to increase revenue & capatalize on the changes in today's dining out patterns.
  Bistango in Irvine, CA  is 25 Years YOUNG
and holds a special place in FoodPower's heart as one of our earliest clients! 
Thanks to the help of the landlord & the owner's strong, hands-on leadership,
today we all celebrate its success.  

I like to think of this high energy restaurant as a "Bistro with a Tango" and am very proud to have been a part of its growth.
The Story:  Meet owner & awesome restaurateur, John Ghoukassian - think of him as the resident genius who quietly slips from office to dining rooms - checking every detail, every day.  At the invitation of then landlord CB Commercial and lender CitiCorp led by Lynda Boyer, Bistango was wooed from LA on La Cienega to Irvine on Von Karman to be the ground floor attraction in the award winning Atrium building.  Unfortunately, the restaurant was early to the areas development (a classic restaurant mistake), there was established competiton, and not enough traffic, especially at night, for the business to survive. 

The Potential: The Bistango concept and brand was exciting, and offered the magic of high energy, a modern and innovative setting, a much needed change from the traditional Orange County restaurants of the day.   

The Missing Element: There's no doubt there was a lack of focus on the demographics - the "special care and feeding of the business clientele" to create a clublike atmosphere for the upwardly mobile local and visiting execs who flew into John Wayne airport.

The Project & Goal: The landlord hired FoodPower to work closely with the restaurant to develop a five-year re-development plan to take the restaurant from its $1 million in sales to $5 million in five years. (Spoiler alert: the strong team John built did it - and in just four years!) 

The Team: BOH: Chef Paul Gstrein (now at Bayside) working with Consultant Jonathan Waxman and current Chef Javier Montoya. FOH: General Manager Ray Sanii, who touches every table, alongside John's children, son Marc and daughter Karyn. 

The Epiphany:  "I realized I couldn't do what I had been doing before and succeed.  I became 100% focused on the tasks at hand.  It would have been a disaster otherwise." -John Ghoukassian

The Scoop Behind the Consultant:  "A lot of restaurateurs are dreamers. They don't see why things are not working.  A consultant has the perspective and can see answers that the owner doesn't.  He only sees his own canvas, not the larger collection."  -John Ghoukassian, an artist at heart.

Listen Carefully:
The Importance of Outstanding Acoustics
Can You Hear Me? When an important business deal is being negotiated - sometimes at every table - or a romantic proposal being made, the feeling of privacy is vital. Distorted voices carrying across the room, difficulty in hearing and interruptions or distractions cannot be tolerated. 

Pitch Perfect: Architect Michael Carapetian is responsible for Bistango's incredible acoustics. He created the bones of the restaurant, and ingeniously divided the restaurant into three separate elevations with
undulating ceilings... carefully planned to create privacy and an atmosphere condusive to conversation whether business or amore

Creating Environments: As the restaurant was retrofitted to meet the demand of larger parties, John created several flexible private enclaves for all size groups. He enclosed an area to create a private dining room, expanded and added curved, tall booths to this most popular atrium, and added dark carpeting to muffle noise in the upper and lower dining areas. He also added glass walls to contain the bar & lounge, where contemporary Jazz and live music warmed the space, and he added an all-new patio to take his restaurant to 300+ seats. 

The Challenge: I dare everyone to find a restaurant in OC with better acoustics than Bistango. It is an amazing study of acoustically sound tactics, as is their sister restaurant Bayside in Newport Beach.

Sex & The City: Bistango is edgy and as on-trend today as it was yesterday, with gorgeous guys and dolls gathering to socialize. It now spills out onto a new heated patio for al fresco dining.

The Bar Menu: It's extensive with a large selection of tapas - literally something for everyone - with excellent wines, beer on-tap and glamorous cocktails.  When small plates became popular, John and Chef Montoya took a trip to Spain to study this style of dining and develop this popular menu for the lounge. 

The Music: At the edge of the lounge is a dance floor with live entertainment nightly, playing everything from Latin Jazz and R&B, to classics and contemporary tunes for diners and dancers alike. Bistango is the only restaurant in Orange County where you can dine and dance.

This is Bistango's brand name, and Ghoukassian came up with it, not only to reflect his love of fine art, but to create a focal point for the team. The Chefs take this to heart by creating menus that WOW the guests.
Bistango's artful cuisine offers guests a wide range of possibilities, from fresh fish and prime steaks & chops, to pastas and healthy, light fare. Our favorites include Kobe Beef, Black Truffle Ravioli, Sweet Garlic Soup, and Chocolate Souffle. Bistango also hosts an extensive bar and a Wine Spectator award-winning wine list with over 400 varieties.

 Bistango can be described as a gallery in addition to a restaurant. The magnificent collection of art lines the walls, floors, and tables at Bistango was created by John Ghoukassian, in collaboration with Antoinette Sullivan, Director of Studio Gallery. The modern art is serious and features works by well known artists, for sale, and is displayed with perfect lighting and artistic savvy. 

It changes five times per year, and like the live music for dining and dancing, it costs a pretty penny to produce. It is these extras that make up the entire package that makes Bistango definitely dance with the grace and drama of a tango.

What makes Bistango an ageless gem is that while it is a fine-dining restaurant, and a special occasion favorite for birthdays, anniversaries, etc., it has none of the usual limitations.  It is also the clubhouse for guests who are regulars, who dine here several times a week, bring their friends and co-workers to break bread knowing they will be taken care of, and can relax and celebrate.    

We are always grateful for all the wonderful clients, who are also our friends, that FoodPower has been able to work with hand-in-hand. It's great to see that our clients continue to grow long after we have left. You can always follow their growth on our FoodPower Facebook page HERE!

If your year is off to a rough start, call us, we may be able to help. While it may not seem obvious to you, there are many factors that can directly relate to profitability and growth.  In most instances, these elements are clear to the objective, experienced eye, but nearly impossible to see for the owner/operator who sees them eight days a week. 
We at FoodPower can help you find your profit centers, quickly and objectively, so you can maximize your strengths.  What's more, we can coach you as to how to sort out your specific issues in a way that brings your costs down and your profit up!  We are talking about TRUE, QUANTIFIABLE CHANGE that captures your profits and minimizes your losses.  Our rates are surprisingly affordable and, with the vast majority of our clients, we pay for our services many times over. 

We are ready at FoodPower to go the extra mile
and inspire you do the same!
Feel free to contact us at or at 949.646.3206.  You can also find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!
To the power of food!
Phyllis Ann

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Established in 1982, Orange County-based FoodPower is a restaurant consulting firm that coaches industry leaders to leverage their strengths. By working hand-in-hand with restaurant management and staff, FoodPower can help create concepts, refine menus, and identify opportunities to increase food sales and capitalize on the changes in today’s dining out patterns to strengthen brands.

2463 Irvine Avenue E1 | Costa Mesa, CA 92627
949.646.3206 | |

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