How a “Homeless” Chef is Building a Brand

chef cook

I had a great meal last night — prepared by a “homeless” chef named Alec Schingel. 

Until last year, Alec worked for various restaurants around the country — including some great ones in my town, St. Louis. 

Now he’s on his own, no longer working for a restaurant, planning to open his own place some day soon. 

Alec doesn’t have a home-base restaurant. But that doesn’t mean he’s out of business.

For the last several months, he has hosted bi-weekly “pop-up” dinners at an event space in midtown St. Louis. 

He promotes the events on social media and through word-of-mouth. 

Seating is limited — just 10 people per pop-up. He sells out every one. 

Last night, my family and I filled five of the 10 seats.

Alec served a five course dinner ($85) with wine-pairing ($40). It was fantastic! 

When the meal ended, Alec encouraged us to tell others about the pop-ups and spread the word on social media. 

He wants to line up investors to finance his future restaurant. If there’s a lot of buzz about the pop-up dinners, investors are more likely to notice and be impressed, he said. 

What does this mean for your business? Oh so much! 

Alec has embraced an innovative way to build a following and establish his brand…

…which reminds me of a story Dan Kennedy tells about a jewelry story owner who sets up a booth at the local race track on auction days. 

Most of the bidders at these auctions are wealthy men. And after they spend big bucks on horses and equipment, they don’t want to go home to their wives empty-handed. 

Enter the jeweler who solves that problem. 

Buy a horse. Buy some jewels. Husband AND wife are happy. 

That may not be your idea of a healthy marriage. But this isn’t a story about the key to marital bliss. 

This is a story about innovative ways to bring your products and services to market and build a following. 

The jeweler did it. Chef Alec did it. You can do it. 

One last thing about Alec’s effort to build a loyal following…

He asked us to follow him on Instagram, but he didn’t ask us to sign up for his email list. He doesn’t have an email list. 

That’s a missed opportunity. My mom and her husband don’t do Insta. But they’d gladly join Alec’s email list — if he had one. 

My wife Melissa has an Instagram account, but rarely pays attention to it. 

If Alec asked all who attend to sign up for emails, he could spread the word about future events, share details about his quest to open a restaurant, and engage his followers in ways he can’t on social media.

That’s a recipe for business success.

Don't go away yet..

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.