How Overnight Success Transformed This New York City Meatball Shop

Meatball Shop

Photo: The Meatball Shop

It was only a year ago when The Meatball Shop popped up in downtown New York City and it’s already considered one the culinary game-changers in the area. The restaurant reinvented the concept of serving classic meatballs, but co-founders Michael Chernow and Daniel Holzman knew early on that running a successful business comes down to staying ahead of everyone else in the industry. 

“I’m constantly looking to innovate, to bring in new systems,” Chernow told us. “I believe being ahead of the curve has a lot to do with what we do, and the people in New York really appreciate innovation.”

“And it’s what the guests want. Keeping it old school is charming for a while, but ultimately, people want to see improvement in efficiency.”

With almost-overnight success, The Meatball Shop knew business needed to run smoothly — Chernow and Holzman soon expanded to another downtown Manhattan location and one in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The counter service concept became a full-service dining experience with more than 2,000 signature meatballs served per day


Photo: WaitAway

And people were waiting for hours to get a table. 

With wait times so long and the restaurant not taking reservations, Chernow says he quickly noticed that the staff was spending too much time on the phone tracking down walk-in customers.

“It was really not a great situation for the guests when they walked through the door and the host would be on the phone giving them the ‘give me one minute kind of look.’ “

The restaurant decided to implement a queue system called WaitAway, which is an app that allows guests to put down their names, phone numbers and party sizes. They are then able to check on the status of their wait time via text messages.

“We’ve gotten incredible feedback from our guests about how much they love it. I mean, it really determines whether you’re going to have that next drink while you’re waiting,” Chernow says. “It’s really helped to expedite not only wait time, but attention at the door. It’s fantastic.”

Aside from front-of-the-house business, Chernow also focuses on keeping up-to-date on the best ways to communicate with his staff. To achieve this, the restaurant turned to Schedulefly, which is a web-based system that Chernow says is “almost like Facebook.”

The Meatball Shop

Photo: The Meatball Shop

When schedules are posted, the staff receives notifications through their emails or text messages. The team is able to write on one another’s profiles, send pictures and messages and pick up shifts from one another.With three locations, it’s also a great way for the restaurant to make company-wide announcements, communicate in-between their staff meetings, discuss the “wine of the week” and share selling points.

Chernow, who’s been working in the restaurant industry since he was 13, says that he’ll always keep The Meatball Shop “ahead of the curve.”

“The Meatball Shop is growing. We’re always looking to make things more efficient. It says something to the guest. It keeps them intrigued. And that’s why we hop on board with new technology.”

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