Brian Bordainick doesn’t cook. But, in 2012, he left what he admits was a “cush” job in education technology to start a food business. Understandably, Bordainick’s friends were pretty blunt with him, calling it the dumbest idea he ever had.
Just shy of two years later, Bordainick’s dumb idea is looking pretty clever.
New Orleans-based Dinner Lab is a membership-based pop up, data-driven dining experience. Chefs prepare meals in underutilized, non-traditional dining areas. Guests are asked to rate each course and accompanying cocktail. The responses are compiled, organized and used to form guidance for future meal events.
Since launching in August of 2012 in Bordainick’s basement apartment, Dinner Lab has grown to nearly 60 full-time employees, hundreds of part-time servers and brings in between $3.5 and $4.8 million in annual revenue. Dinner Lab just secured $2.1 million in venture funding.
And, no, Bordainick doesn’t do any of the cooking himself.
Bordainick was a “Hamburger Helper baby,” but growing up his most precious memories were at dinner tables with his diverse group of friends, breaking the Ramadan fast, having a Feast of the Seven Fishes Dinner on Christmas Eve and hearing the stories that come along with being served such culturally authentic meals.
The newest iteration of the Dinner Lab brand will be a brick and mortar restaurant, opening in the second quarter of next year. From Bordainick’s basement to pop-ups to an actual restaurant, the only consistency with Dinner Lab is change.
“We bake in that experimentation into everything we do,” said Bordainick. “We are always experimenting and tweaking because we are trying to provide a better product.”