Brendan Sweeney of Popmenu on How Ego is the Root of All Evil Interview with Popmenu CEO Brendan Sweeney about building a positive user experience, the state of restaurant technology, and the importance of providing answers.

By Shawn P. Walchef

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Takeaways from this episode:

Digital UX is a Part of the Customer JourneyCEO Brendan Sweeney and the Popmenu team understand the importance of digital hospitality, and that a restaurant's digital user experience (UX) is often the first impression for customers.

Ego is the Root of all Evil — According to Brendan Sweeney, money gets a bad rap. When building a longstanding positive culture, he and his teammates at Popmenu decided that they would make decisions devoid of ego as often as possible.

You Gotta Have an Answer — As the industry deals with worker shortage and a growing digital influence, Brendan Sweeney and company have implemented new technology to ensure that no customer question goes unanswered, and the experience is even enhanced by interacting with their new technology.


When co-founding Popmenu, CEO Brendan Sweeney knew to do things differently. The first rule? No corporate bullshit or egos.

Digital technology has grown to become an integral part of the restaurant industry. One of the leaders in the digital hospitality movement is Brendan Sweeney, the CEO and a cofounder of Popmenu (@popmenu). As its tagline states, the restaurant tool is "designed to turn more first-time guests into regulars."

"Popmenu is giving control and simplicity back to restaurants, helping them navigate this crazy digital world, put their best foot forward, attract, engage and transact with their guests in a way they've never been able to do before and simplifying their lives," says Brendan Sweeney to Restaurant Influencers host Shawn Walchef of CaliBBQ Media.

That user experience is what drives Popmenu to provide increasingly efficient mechanisms for their partners to use. With a background in product and marketing, Brendan Sweeney has a keen understanding of how potential customers shop with their senses prior to walking into the door and making the decision to become regulars. Years of research also helped the Popmenu team employ the strategy of a fairly well known business — Amazon.

"It does feel like an Amazon product page when you come to a regular menu on Popmenu," says Brendan. "You can see what does this dish look like? The chef could put as many pieces of text as they want about it. Tell the whole story. The reviews are directly there. The ratings, the social validation. It's all in one place."

That harmonious experience is paramount for Popmenu to provide to their restaurant partners and ultimately to the consumers. Harmony is also a cornerstone on which the Popmenu culture is built.

"We decided to try to do it differently," says Brendan Sweeney about founding Popmenu. "So we, from the beginning, said, number one: no corporate bullshit. And what that ends up really meaning long term is trying to keep ego out of it as much as possible."

The likelihood of more than one founding member of an organization being aligned in what they want is unlikely. Yet, the Popmenu team has hit the jackpot in that arena.

What started as just an idea to break out of cubicle life, and one which Brendan Sweeney admittedly thought would significantly dwindle after a year, has blossomed into an entity that is pushing the digital hospitality industry forward with no sign of losing momentum. The Popmenu team hope to also push the spirit of perseverance and encourage entrepreneurs to keep going.

"It is incredibly rewarding when you figure stuff out, but man, it's hard. It's hard. And so the whole thing is just not having this expectation it's going to happen overnight," he cautions.

Hard is not impossible. It took years in separate occupations for the minds that created Popmenu to come together, and the growth continues to be phenomenal.


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


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.

Popmenu is also a sponsor of the Restaurant Influencers podcast. We wanted to share with our audience this powerful opportunity to help your restaurant reclaim the power of your phone now. Learn more about Popmenu Answering.

Wavy Line

Shawn P. Walchef is the founder of Cali BBQ Media, podcast host, business coach, and proud dad. Since opening Cali BBQ in 2008, he has grown his San Diego restaurant and media company into a global brand using digital tools and smartphone storytelling. 

As a restaurateur who opened during the Great Recession, Shawn learned to use the power of the Internet to stay in business. During the Pandemic, Cali BBQ developed a scalable growth plan that is three times more profitable than the traditional full-service restaurant model.
Email to get in touch.

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