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Téa Ivanovic of Immigrant Food on the Cause Casual Restaurant Mission Interview with co-founder and COO of Immigrant Food Téa Ivanovic about their 3-pillar mission, retaining quality employees, and enhancing media exposure the right way.

By Shawn P. Walchef

Key Takeaways

  • 3-Pillar Mission for Immigrant Food - Téa Ivanovic and Immigrant Food conducts business with their 3-pillar mission as the priority. The three pillars include engagement for customers, business partners, and the Think Table newsletter.
  • People Want to Connect to the Mission - Post-pandemic worker shortages have plagued businesses, but the restaurant industry has been hit particularly hard. Fortunately, due to their incredible mission and outreach, Téa Ivanovic says Immigrant Food has not experienced such difficulty retaining quality employees.
  • Authenticity and Belief in your Brand - Visibility is a part of doing business in today's economy. Téa Ivanovic believes that being true to who you are and really believing in the sufficiency of that authenticity is the best way to go about creating content that is relatable.
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Téa Ivanovic is the co-founder and COO of Immigrant Food, "cause-casual" restaurant in Washington, D.C. Immigrant Food's mission is to celebrate the history of immigrants while also pushing to help the current immigrants to the United States.

"People really connect with a mission," Téa Ivanovic says to Restaurant Influencers host Shawn Walchef of CaliBBQ Media. "People want to feel connected."

Connection is an overarching theme for Immigrant Food, a unique "cause casual" restaurant company in Washington, DC. They make it a point to speak on issues affecting immigrants in America, and use food to tell the incredible diverse stories of those which they serve.

There are two vital parts of Immigrant Food. First is the good food, naturally. Second, but not any less important, is the restaurant company's advocacy and mission.

"Food can tell so many different stories and touch people in really profound ways," says Ivanovic. "I think food was a very natural way to do what we wanted to do."

Having such a powerful story has also served Immigrant Food well in terms of retaining employees.

It is a well-known fact that businesses have suffered worker shortages after the pandemic. Creating a welcoming environment, both for internal and external patrons, coupled with the company's unwavering dedication to their cause casual mission, has allowed Immigrant Food to hold onto their important staff.

As a part of its mission, Immigrant food has an engagement menu next to their food menu that allows patrons to get involved.

"There's five ways that you as a guest that comes into the restaurant can engage, whether it's signing a petition, making a small donation, signing up for volunteering opportunities, or even reading a book or listening to a podcast." says Ivanovic on Immigrant Food. "It's inside the restaurants, but it's also a newsletter. It's on social media. People all across the country connect with it, which is a really crucial part."

That feeling of involvement and ties to the community is what makes Immigrant Food a one-of-a-kind place to eat. But most importantly it's a community.

Customers have the unique opportunity to try amazing food from a multitude of cultures while being a part of the positive progression of a critical issue in our society.



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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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