I’m always inspired when I see people who want to make a difference in their community. While some dream of dot com success, others think about making our stomach’s happy. Kennedy Krieger, owner of the Dig Cafe just outside of Frankenmuth, started about a year ago, this young entrepreneur is determined to make her business a success. Judging by the chocolate chip cookies, she’s off to a great start.
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Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: One of the hardest things that I’ve had to learn to deal with was my self doubt. I’ve learned that it’s just the best thing to go with your gut, your first decision, cuz usually that’s what you’re gonna end up doing anyways.
Cliff Duvernois: Hello everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Call of Leadership Podcast. Today I’m sitting with Kennedy Krieger, who is the founder and owner of the Dig Cafe. Located just outside of Frankenmuth and I absolutely love this little place. I’ve actually eaten here a couple times. It’s really cute.
Cliff Duvernois: But, uh, it’s nice cuz today we’re gonna be talking about running a little restaurant. So, Kennedy Krieger Kennedy, welcome to the show.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Thank you. I’m so happy to be here.
Cliff Duvernois: Why don’t you tell everybody where you’re from and where you grew up.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: So, I grew up in a little town about 15 minutes north of Frankenmuth. It’s called Reese.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Um, it’s a little farm town and I just went to school at one of the local schools until about eighth grade, and then I hopped over to Frankenmuth for high school and finished out my high school years here.
Cliff Duvernois: Nice. And when you got done with high school,
Cliff Duvernois: because
Cliff Duvernois: how old are you now? You’re 22, so I’m not even asked if you finish college yet, unless you’re one of those brain childs.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: I actually did, so my college was a two year program. Um, so I graduated. I was really young, um, in my school years. Uh, so I graduated when I was 17 because I was kind of bumped up a year, if that makes sense
Cliff Duvernois: you are a brain child.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: I don’t know about that, but, yeah, I graduated when I was 17, so I was able to start college right before my 18th birthday, and so that took me to about 20 years old when I finished.
Cliff Duvernois: And where did you go to college?
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: I went to, it was a community college in Traverse City. It was called Northwestern Michigan College. And through there they have different, uh, specialty programs, which one of ’em is the culinary program. So that school is called, uh, the Great Lakes Culinary Institute. So that is where I did most of my learning in their, uh, specialty, uh, kitchen off campus.
Cliff Duvernois: So then you got your degree, you are a certified chef.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: I have a pastry or a baking and pastry certificate, um, along with a, uh, an entrepreneurship certificate.
Cliff Duvernois: Oh, there you go. So now I’m gonna ask a very loaded question, just based on your degree. It sounds like you were already thinking you were gonna want your Oh, to open your own place.
Cliff Duvernois: Where did that come from?
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: So, my whole family on both sides actually. There’s a bunch of entrepreneurs. So I grew up with the fact, knowing that I could own my own business and that, you know, it is a lot of hard work and, my family members have shown that, but that it’s possible to run, you know, a successful business around this area.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: So that’s kind of always been. Like a dream or a goal of mine? Ever since I was little, like thinking back to when I was younger and like playing Plato with my mom, like I’d make her sit down and I would wait on her and, you know, I’d make her a play-Dough cupcake or something and have her buy it from me and
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: So , thinking back to memories like that, I think it’s always been ingrained that I wanted to do something with business and something with the food.
Cliff Duvernois: that’s really fascinating. So now did you for the food industry, cuz it seems like when I talk to people about this, they can always point back to some celebrity chef on TV that inspired them.
Cliff Duvernois: Somebody from the food channel, whoever that might be. Do you have those heroes when you were growing up?
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Yeah. I can remember probably in like fourth or fifth grade we had to do some sort.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Uh, hero project kind of thing. And I don’t remember doing this, but my grandma said I was always watching the Food Network when I was younger.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: And I remember doing this one project on a chef called Anne Burrell, and she is just a very feisty woman in the kitchen. And I think that kind of, I don’t know, just made me realize, that women can be very strong and.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: You know, exciting and just very informative with things in the kitchen.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: So that kind of maybe drew me into wanting to be a chef.
Cliff Duvernois: Thing I think about when. When I take a look like throughout the history of chefs, it seems like the best chefs out there were always men. These were the people that you see
Cliff Duvernois: nowadays. I would venture to say that’s probably pretty close to a 50 50 mix.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Yeah, I would say just in my experience through my culinary school, most of my classes were made up of female students. And so you usually, our classes would maybe have 15 people and at least 10 of them would be female.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: So I think we’re starting to see more of like women. Powers coming into the kitchen and kind of being a force of chefs that, you know, they’re kind of here to change a little bit.
Cliff Duvernois: What I’d like to do is I’d like to explore a little bit more about your decision to become an entrepreneur and open your own business. So you’re 22 and I know a number of younger people in their twenties that would like the thought of them actually renting out a space to actually have their own business, uh, would be just a complete foreign concept to them.
Cliff Duvernois: But you seem to have dived.
Cliff Duvernois: Like head first, you’re like, You know what, this is what I wanna do and I’m gonna do it. So first off, where did that, where did that thinking come from that you could do this and then second off, be successful at it?
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: All right, So, uh, my family and my friends have always been great supporters of mine and. I have always kind of had the mindset to create and reinvent myself, like my grandpa says at just whatever I was, whatever was thrown in my way.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Challenges or school projects or whatnot. So the support from my family over the years, you know, if I was doing a bake sale for everyone or, um, just selling those, oh, what do you call it? Like.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: I don’t know, things
Cliff Duvernois: pastries,
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Yes Yes You have the pizza kits or whatever for your sports. Um, they were always there to support me and like let me do a little sales pitch to them.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: So, that has always just been really Just a part of my life, I guess, and to have other entrepreneurs in my life to show me kind of the ropes of things or how to think about things in a special way that maybe not everyone would. Especially my grandpa, who is a really great entrepreneur, he has brought so many different skills to my life that I haven’t really like picked up that I learned until I have opened this business.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: To be successful you just have to kind of dive in and you know, it’s really scary. I was really scared when I first decided that I wanted to run a business at this young of an age, but I know that I have always wanted to. So why not do it when just to do it, cuz you are never gonna have a perfect situation.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: To say, Yes, I wanna do it, you know, in 10 years when I have this and this and this because you know, in 10 years you’re gonna have just a whole bunch of different problems that you know that could help you put that off for another 10 years. And I don’t know, I just decided that this was something that I wanted and I found I scouted out this place and.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: It just hit all the check marks and everything that I wanted to try, wanted to do. The space was like a perfect size. It was decorated like the way I would want it. So it just all fell into place.
Cliff Duvernois: Let’s talk about that because the location of your restaurant here, so you are just outside of Frankenmuth.
Cliff Duvernois: on GU Road. And so first off, why Frankenmuth?
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Um, I’ve always had strong ties to Frankenmuth, um, especially when I lived here for the four or five years that I did. I don’t know. I just really like the energy of the town. I like the community that everyone just kind of rallies around Frankenmuth and especially if you’re local, everyone’s just kind of friendly and neighborly.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: You know, I wanted to get to know the locals more, and that was why I was excited about this. , I’ve had my fair share of dealing with tourists and, getting to know them, but they’re only here for a short amount of time. Because we’re outside of town a little bit, it is easier for locals to get to us.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: They don’t have to go through all the traffic. But it’s also kind of out of the way of tourists. So the people that I do get to, come in contact with usually become my regulars because I get to get to know them and they get to know.
Cliff Duvernois: And what I would like to do is I’d like to explore that idea a little bit more about how you’re getting traffic to come out here to your restaurant. And uh, what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna take a quick break to thank our sponsors. So we’ll be back in 60 seconds.
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Cliff Duvernois: Hello everyone. Welcome back. And we are talking with Kennedy Krieger from the Dig Cafe. Now, before the break, we were talking about the location of your restaurant being just outside of Frankenmuth, so you don’t have the luxury of having some big store next door that’s getting a ton of foot traffic. There’s no big restaurant across the street that’s getting foot traffic.
Cliff Duvernois: So literally I would almost think that if people are coming here, it’s because they are coming here. So what I would like to do is I would like, like to talk to you about. Your, I guess, your marketing plan, so to speak, of how you’re letting people know that you are here and getting them into your restaurant.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Sure. So when we first signed our lease here and decided that this was a restaurant that we wanted to have open, um, I knew that we were not gonna get a bunch of just random foot traffic, tourists or just someone kind of just wandering in here because of where the building is located at.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: But I knew. When this was running previously, there were a lot of loyal customers that had already kind of known, that this was here, that it was a food place and that you could get some pretty good food here. So I wanted to play off of that. So that’s why we’ve kept the names so far from when it was opened before.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: and then I also took over the old social media so I could rere out to those people that were still following that account. And just say, Hey, this is a new owner. This is what our menu is, what we kind of wanna do here, and I’d love to share it with you. So what is really important is just connecting with all of my customers that come.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: So, although I love the busy days when there’s just orders flying off it is really nice when we get to have a slow trickle once in a while and I actually get to talk with the customers and that’s how I think we can create more loyal customers and more just, you know, small business. I don’t know, like good things around just shopping local.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: I really love getting to know my customers.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: You know, some of ’em, I’m not on a first name basis. Others, I am some . The building has a bunch of office spaces too in here. So downstairs is mostly retail shops, so sometimes we do just get some random foot traffic. But upstairs is mostly offices where people are here Monday through Friday.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: And I’ve gotten to know so many of the people. Here just cuz they’re in the building all the time and I get to chat with them. Some of ’em I have, um, their numbers on my phone. So if I have a special I can text it up to them. Or if they are running late and they want something, they can text me their order and I can have it ready for them when they’re, when they have time for it.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: So that I think is really cool and something that I wanna continue to build on.
Cliff Duvernois: You should write a marketing book,
Cliff Duvernois: So let’s un, let’s unpack a couple things that you said there that I think is absolutely fascinating. So when you got this space, there was already a restaurant
Cliff Duvernois: here.
Cliff Duvernois: They already had a social media presence.
Cliff Duvernois: So that’s interesting to think that if you’re gonna come in and take the place of somebody else, that it should also be a factor too. What’s their social media look like? Do they even have social media? And from what you were saying before, they already had social media, they already had
Cliff Duvernois: followers You just had to work on, if I were to guess, warming those people.
Cliff Duvernois: You know, and so they probably liked the page but hadn’t heard anything from ’em in months. Maybe even forgot it was even here. And all of a sudden, one day a post pops up that says, Hi, I’m Kennedy. I’m the new owner of the Dig Cafe, and here’s what we’re gonna do.
Cliff Duvernois: Or here’s new plates that that we’re going to offer. Tell us a little bit about your, I’d like to go back and explore a little bit more about like your social media strategy just to.
Cliff Duvernois: the audience and then maybe what, what are some of the things that you’re doing now?
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: so to start with, um, I started posting about a month before our open date, so it was sometime in December, and that’s when I got all.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: The information and, we signed everything here. And so I could log on to those social media accounts. I had posted, a picture of myself and said, Hey, You know, this is Kennedy. I’m the new owner here. This is what I want to do with this space. Like, I hope you follow along.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: And then from there I would kind of post random, you know, Oh, I’m working on the menu, or, we were working on the espresso machine for a little bit, trying to figure out all of its quirks. And so we posted a little bit about that. And so it was just kind of just getting that information out there and, you know, not everybody is gonna see every.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: That’s just kind of how it works. So just the more that we could get out into, just out in the open, you know, the better chance people are gonna see that this is reopened, this is what we’re about and, maybe wanna come here.
Cliff Duvernois: The, the, the process that you’re talking about, and I’ve heard other marketing experts talk about this as well, is, you know, people spend a lot of time trying to craft the perfect post.
Cliff Duvernois: or get the perfect image, and that’s really not the case and not even really necessary. It’s more about documenting your journey, which is exactly the strategy that you employed here. When you first got on there, you introduced yourself, and then you’re sitting there talking about how, Oh, well it’s supposed a photo of me coming up with the menu and let’s talk about the espresso machine and how we’re trying to figure that thing out and all these other things.
Cliff Duvernois: You’re, you’re talking about that journey to get that place open again. Now, what kind of posts do you have? On social media, what are you running now on social media?
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: So right now we are changing our menu every week. So on Tuesdays I post that new menu since that’s our first day open for the week. And then from there I just post, some different items that are selling really quickly that week.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: So sometimes it’s our chocolate chip cookies. I’ll just kinda.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Share a picture about those. And those have become a staple here on total accident. Nice. Um, , but we can’t go a day without them. Some of our salads have become super popular, our sandwiches, so whatever is just kind of, I don’t know, selling quick that week I’ll.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Make an extra one at the end of my day and kind of stage it and have it ready for the next day. But it’s those kinds of posts or the quick ones that I do in the morning of my prep that, really blow up and have more people looking at them, rather than if I were to stage a perfect, a picture perfect shot of this slice of cake or, this, uh, yogurt that I did in the morning.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Sometimes it’s just kind of a hit or miss, but usually it’s those that are more personal too, that do really well.
Cliff Duvernois: What I’d like to do is talk about perhaps like what was one of the biggest struggles or hurdles that you had to overcome to get this place open?
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Um, it was probably myself,
Cliff Duvernois: Ooh, interesting. Okay. Do tell.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Yeah. So it’s probably. One of the hardest things that I’ve had to learn to deal with was just like my self doubt and just working through, decisions that I have to make for myself now that I’m in charge of everything. There is just so much always running through my mind, and so at certain points I just kind of would be like, Oh, this isn’t good enough.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: You know, I could do better at this.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Just doubting myself sometimes with certain decisions or taking too long to decide on something and then it just like makes me feel a little bit crazy and I’ve learned that it’s just the best thing to go with your gut, your first decision, cuz usually that’s what you’re gonna end up doing anyways.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: So just go with that first one. And if it doesn’t work, It doesn’t work out and you just have to kinda move on to the next one. But that took me a long, I mean, I haven’t even been here for a year, but it felt like a really long time to figure that part out. And now that I have, it just makes me feel more creative all the time and really excited to get in here the next day and you know, see what we can create.
Cliff Duvernois: I can imagine that because, When you wanna punt a decision, somebody comes up to you and says, Oh, we don’t have this. Should we get this instead?
Cliff Duvernois: And you’re got 50 other things on your mind and you’re just frazzled. Then you say, Oh, well, you know what, uh, just, gimme a little bit to think about it. All of a sudden, that’s weighing on your mind. And so when you were talking before about how you’ve gotten better at just, let’s just make a decision, and if I make a mistake oh.
Cliff Duvernois: Yeah, we’ll just move on. But because you’re making those decisions, getting those questions out of your head, like you were talking about before, it really frees you up to focus on, on being creative, on making, bigger decisions or maybe thinking about some other kind of campaign. Your brain isn’t being bogged down by all this stuff.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Totally. And that’s what I’ve learned that, you know, I can feel more free and like able to do these bigger things because I don’t have all these small problems weighing on me and oh, I forgot to do this small thing, or I forgot to give this person, this message or an email or whatever.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: So just being able to know that I will make mistakes and you know what? We just gotta keep trying things, that has, yeah, really freed me up.
Cliff Duvernois: Let’s talk about your decision to change the menu on a weekly basis. Because I’ve only talked to one other restaurant here in Michigan that does that. They actually change their menu throughout the night. So first off, why change your menu on a weekly basis? And second off, what determines what items you’re gonna serve on your menu?
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: For the first two quarters of the year, so from January to March, we had one menu and then I decided I was gonna change it seasonally. So four times a year. And then we got to our second chunk of menu and that was doing really good.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: I noticed myself kind of getting bored with it, and.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: The prep work was just kind of the same day in and day out, and I was just like, Mm. We would change our desserts and whatever, but the core menu stayed the same. And I noticed, at the start of when we would change our menu, we would get super busy and have all of our regulars, and then towards the end of the quarter, Because our menu is kind of small, we just were getting, stragglers in here and, we would see our regulars maybe once every two weeks or just a schedule like that.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: And so in September, I decided that I wanted to try and switch it up, see if we could keep people interested in keeping our regulars coming here. Once a.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: To see if we could. It just create something new. And not every restaurant does that. Now for what I decide , I, I decide to, uh, put things that I want to eat on the menu
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: So,
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: If something a
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: customer
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: want that Yeah exactly. If something sounds really good to me, I will just add it to the menu. And that, I don’t know, I found that is working really well. A lot of people want to eat the same things. That sound good to me. Like for this week, we have a Philly cheese steak on our lunch menu.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: And I texted my mom earlier this weekend. I’m like, I don’t, I’m stuck. I don’t know what I should make. And she recommended that. I’m like, Oh, that sounds amazing. So I made it for dinner and then I added it to our menu.
Cliff Duvernois: Nice. And now, so what has happened since you’ve started to change up your menu once a week? Are you seeing your regulars just a lot more, a lot
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: I um yes, I am seeing our regulars.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: maybe two times within the week, which is really exciting. And then I’ve noticed more people coming in and being like, Oh, I had this friend tell me about this salad. Like, I don’t see it on your menu, but what else can I get in?
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Then I’ll tell them, my plans will bring that salad back, but you can get something like this. And it just, it’s a way to. Keep it exciting in here because we carry such a small menu for both breakfast and lunch. It’s just really fun to mix it up every week.
Cliff Duvernois: Awesome. I could sit here and probably pick your brain for the rest of the day cuz it’s just, it’s amazing just hearing the stuff that you’re talking about.
Cliff Duvernois: This is just really cool. So Kennedy, if somebody’s listening to this podcast and they wanna come check out the Dig Cafe or find you online or anything else like that, what was the best way for them to do
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: that?
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Sure. Our Facebook is just Dig Cafe right now, d i g same with I believe our Instagram is the Dig Cafe.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: That’s what our email is. It’s the dig . And that’s pretty much it.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: We are located in Frankenmuth, Michigan. We are in the north, the uptown north main building.
Cliff Duvernois: Nice. And for our audience, we will have all those links in the show notes down. Kennedy, it’s been, it’s been awesome having you on this show today. I’ve really enjoyed this interview, so thank
Cliff Duvernois: you.
Kennedy Krieger, Dig Cafe: Well thank you so much.