Jeremy Julian

219. Restaurant Technology Guys Podcast Ep. 219 – How to Turn Your Restaurant into a Media Powerhouse: Insights from Shawn Walchef

February 12, 2024


In this world of technology and telecommunication, restaurants have more opportunities to grow their brand than ever before. Yet, some may ask, “how exactly can restaurants leverage their businesses into media powerhouses?” In this article, we discuss how to accomplish this feat, using the insights of Shawn Walchef, the seasoned owner of Cali BBQ Media, as shared on the Restaurant Technology Guys podcast.

Meet the Speakers

Jeremy Julian, the host of the Restaurant Technology Guys Podcast, sat down with Shawn Walchef, the highly successful owner of the Californian-based Cali BBQ Media for an exciting conversation. Walchef, known for turning his BBQ eatery into an efficient, sprawling digital media company, generously shared his nuggets on how restaurants can wield the power of digital media to increase their reach, influence, and profitability.

The Rise of Cali BBQ Media

Walchef revealed his extraordinary journey from owning a single BBQ eatery to operating four thriving locations. Furthermore, he expanded into the realms of storytelling, transforming his business alongside into a media house.

Walchef said, “So 2017 is, you know, really the significant turning point when we turned our BBQ business into a media business. We launched our first show – Behind the Smoke. It was more about marketing, storytelling, business. When I went to business school, I thought I was gonna get some great business lessons. The only time I was moved inside of business class was when an entrepreneur came and told me their story.”

Media as a Tool for Authentic Engagement

Becoming a media business was a pivotal philosophy articulated by Walchef, essentially disrupting the traditional restaurant marketing model. Shifting away from advertising to authentic storytelling, restaurants can create compelling content that resonates with their audience and builds a strong community around their brand.

Walchef expressed, “Why don’t you introduce yourself a little bit to our audience who might not know you? Start, start telling me every single day, what are you doing? What are you building? Bring us into your meeting. Like there’s a lot of things perfectly you can do today.”

The Need for Consistency and Authenticity in Content Creation

Success in the world of digital media isn’t achieved overnight. It requires consistency and authenticity, two elements strongly emphasized by Walchef. As businesses start sharing their journey, they may first find few people engaging with their content. But, with persistence, they can slowly gather a dedicated following and maximize their reach.

Walchef highlighted, “People fear putting something out that isn’t quality because of what other people will think. But truth vibrates the fastest. Start listening to shows like this. Start consuming content. If you’re surrounding yourself with more authentic, valuable content, you’ll improve.”

The Future of Digital Storytelling and Hospitality

According to Walchef, every business needs a digital-first approach, particularly brick-and-mortar brands. Businesses must harness the power of storytelling through audio, video, images, and words, putting content out fast and consistently.

The interview concluded with a resounding call to action from Walchef, emphasizing that people can change their lives and businesses by connecting and learning from people within their industry. He called out to both the audience and his fellow restaurant owners to face the challenge. “Please connect with me, connect with Jeremy. There are so many amazing people that are one DM away from changing your life and your business.”


In today’s digital age, restaurants can’t afford to overlook the power of digital storytelling. In addition to serving delicious meals, creating compelling, consistent, and authentic content can help to amplify your brand reach, connect with your audience, and establish your restaurant as an authority in the market. So why wait? Start your digital storytelling journey today, and see the profound impact it can have on your business.

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