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Momofuku CEO Marguerite Zabar Mariscal on Rising To The Top Interview with Momofuku CEO Marguerite Zabar Mariscal about playing the long game, finding strategic partnerships, new restaurant technology, and not being obsessed with perfection.

By Shawn P. Walchef

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Takeaways

@Momolongplay - Marguerite Mariscal's career at Momofuku began as an intern in charge of social media. Their handle @momolongplay was a reference to LP records.

Toast Momofuku Partnership - Momofuku has a core belief in being omnichannel. Marguerite Mariscal says that partnering with the Toast POS company has played an integral role in ensuring Momofuku remains successful now and into the future.

A Delicious Vision - Along with food delivery, Momofuku has expanded greatly into the retail space. With that said, the company has learned not to obsess with recreating the dish exactly how it is during the indoor dining experience. Instead, creating a different, but still delicious, version of the dishes allows for a more sustainable customer experience.

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In 2011 Marguerite Zabar Mariscal was an intern at Momofuku. By age 30 she became CEO for the groundbreaking restaurant company.

Born into a restaurant family, joining the industry was almost destiny for Momofuku CEO Marguerite Zabar Mariscal. But an uncanny attention to detail, and ability to navigate and mirror the high-standards of Momofuku founder David Chang, is what caused her trajectory to skyrocket. She went from being a standout intern to being a hand-selected CEO candidate four years before even stepping into the top leadership role.

Momofuku was founded in 2004 with the opening of David Chang's Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City. Credited with "the rise of contemporary Asian-American cuisine" by the New York Times and named the "most important restaurant in America" by Bon Appétit magazine, Momofuku has restaurants in the United States and Canada as well as a line of restaurant-grade products for home cooks.

In a 2019 New York Times feature article, Momofuku founder David Chang heaped praise upon his CEO saying, "She's the only person I've ever felt comfortable giving complete carte blanche to, in terms of what Momofuku looks like and what it should be."

Marguerite Mariscal has taken the mantle at Momofuku and continued to run with it. Spending time as Social Media Manager, Director of Communications and Design, Chief of Staff, and Creative Director, she has an intimate knowledge of ins and outs of the Momofuku brand. Her influence on Momofuku is ever-present and palpable in each restaurant and product.

"It was social and design, like the two things that I was really obsessed with," the CEO says of her passions within Momofuku on the Restaurant Influencers podcast hosted by Shawn P. Walchef of CaliBBQ Media. "I think they were all things that other people didn't necessarily want to do. So it became my pet project."

Though she isn't as hands-on as she was when she used to change the font on the company's menus and websites, Mariscal still admits to dabbling in the self-described "fun stuff" as much as possible.

Much like the early innovations and forward-thinking that caused Momofuku to become world famous, a similar approach is now being taken to ensure that the brand's place at the front of the line remains solidified. Partnering with POS system (and Restaurant Influencers sponsor) Toast and other restaurant technology partners has helped greatly. That, coupled with the idea that retail products, such as their Chili Crunch and air dried noodles, don't need to be exact replicas of the in-house restaurant variety, allows Mariscal and company to prioritize sustainable practices.

Momofuku still has plenty of room for sustained growth despite its already grand position in the marketplace. Marguerite Zabar Mariscal is proof positive that when you're good at what you do, people can't ignore you. That hard work and a deep understanding of your role can lead an intern to the top of the company.

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NOMINATE A RESTAURANT INFLUENCER — Do you know someone who is killing it on social media? Let us know by emailing influencers@calibbq.media or sending the @calibbqmedia team a DM on social media.

ABOUT RESTAURANT INFLUENCERS:

Restaurant Influencers is brought to you by Toast, the powerful restaurant point of sale and management system that helps restaurants improve operations, increase sales and create a better guest experience.

Toast — Powering Successful Restaurants. Learn more about Toast.

DAVO is also a sponsor of Restaurant Influencers. Never worry about sales tax again. Try DAVO and get your first month free.

Shawn P. Walchef

Founder of Cali BBQ Media

“Be the show, not the commercial.”

Cali BBQ Media Founder Shawn Walchef helps brands and leaders leverage the new Business Creator Economy with strategic Smartphone Storytelling and Digital Hospitality.

His Cali BBQ restaurant company has generated more than $35 million since opening in 2008. They operate numerous locations in San Diego and beyond.

Shawn’s weekly video series Restaurant Influencers (published by Entrepreneur Media and produced by Cali BBQ Media) has been seen by over 25 million people.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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