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Shawn Walchef of Cali BBQ Media talks toast and digital hospitality

Opinions of contributing entrepreneurs are their own.

“Stay curious. Get involved. Ask for help.”

That’s important advice that Shawn Walchef’s grandfather, Luben Walchef, taught him long before Shawn started a burgeoning media empire out of the back of his one-person diner in suburban San Diego.

The Cali BBQ Media founder believes that having a streamlined digital ecosystem and tech stack is critical to the success of any business.

Just as important Smartphone storytelling; all business owners have the opportunity to tell their own story to the world online – just with their mobile phone.

In his extensive experience as a restaurant owner and operator, Shawn Walchef has seen many companies use a patchwork of different tools, software platforms and hardware for marketing, loyalty, point of sale, scheduling, back of house, etc. This results in a disjointed and inefficient system that ends up costing them extra money and wasted time.

Ever his Cali BBQ restaurant company started using Toast as a point of sale provider in 2020, Shawn and General Manager Eric Olafsen realized that the innovative company could serve as the heartbeat of their restaurant technology.

Toast also enabled them to easily integrate other technical restaurant solutions and improve the overall customer experience of eating Cali BBQ’s “Slow Food Fast” (whether online or in person). Slow Food Fast is Cali BBQ’s slogan thanks to the speed and efficiency that technology like Toast helps provide.

“Once we had Toast. Now I realize that our ecosystem, our digital ecosystem, can have this heartbeat. And once it has a heartbeat, I can now start looking for a solution that Toast may not have,” Shawn Walchef explains Will Eppard at Spark LA in 2023 about building a tech stack with Toast as its foundation.

Walchef recognizes that investing in the necessary tools for growth can be challenging for entrepreneurs. It requires stepping outside the four walls of the company and investing in the resources that will enable the company to expand digitally.

He believes that contact with other entrepreneurs is also essential to learning and moving any venture forward.

Live events (such as Spark by Toast and Restaurant365’s Restaurant Transformation Tour) and online communities provide the opportunity to learn from others and stay up to date with the latest trends and best practices.

Shawn and his Cali BBQ Media team also host two live Clubhouse gatherings via the social audio app every Wednesday and Friday at 10am (PST).

One of the lessons Walchef has learned during his years in the industry is that slow and steady wins the race. While it’s tempting to want instant success and build a unicorn business, he emphasizes the value of valuing every day and taking a long-term approach.

This philosophy applies not only to building a successful restaurant, but also to building a successful media company and family.

“I heard a quote recently and I’ve repeated it pretty much every day since I’ve heard it, and it’s to stop praying for ‘as soon as possible’ and start praying for ‘while it takes’.” says Shawn Walchef.

“So much of what I’ve learned is that low and slow is how we build our barbecue, how we build our media, how I build my family. It appreciates day by day.”

Shawn Walchef encourages restaurant owners to share their stories and connect with others online every day. The internet and platforms like Spark LA have given businesses the ability to connect with people all over the world, even if they’re not in their local market.

As he puts it, “A rising tide lifts all leaders. Your story matters. You founded a company. You founded a restaurant. You convinced so many people who told you you couldn’t do it.”

And Shawn is here to help you tell that story.

– Article by TJ Void of CaliBBQ Media



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