Our team’s past experiences and current talents help make SALIDO a truly unique and inspiring place to work. Today’s spotlight highlights one of our co-founders. Meet Matthew Gaines, our Head of Product. He brings SALIDO’s software to life through research and collaboration with our customers, product managers, designers, and engineers. Read on below to learn more.
What is your favorite thing to do at work or aspect of your role you like the most? I really enjoy seeing everything come together. Every piece of our software begins as an idea in someone’s head, and watching that idea evolve from scribbles in a notebook to something that delivers a measurably significant cost savings or quality of life improvement to our customers, is second to none.
What do you do when your brain needs a break? We have these gigantic beanbags called Lovesacs in the office. I’ll plop down on one and pull out my phone to catch up on what’s happening in the world — Techmeme, The Verge, Eater, and good ‘ol Google News are some of my go-tos. You’d think I’d be sick of screens but nope.
How does your hospitality background fit into your role at SALIDO? Like most young people, my first jobs were in the hospitality field. When I was 15, I worked as a “cart boy” at a country club, moving up to concessions at a movie theater, and then throughout college I worked at Papa John’s doing food prep and delivery.
At Papa John’s, I spent a lot of time thinking about the logistics of getting a pie to someone’s doorstep. It was actually pretty impressive to experience… watching the big Papa John’s trucks deliver the week’s supplies, prepping all that produce to be stored in a giant walk-in, helping make the pies and seeing them churn through the large conveyer belt oven. There was this ridiculously dated green screen computer system that tracked orders through the whole process, from the time the order was received to when the designated delivery driver returned to the store and marked the order complete. I was fascinated by it.
After college, I moved to New York and learned pretty quickly that four years of English Literature and Philosophy wasn’t going to pay the bills. A friend of a friend got me an interview at Tom Colicchio’s ‘Wichcraft where I started taking phone orders. Over the next seven years, as ‘Wichcraft grew from just four locations to more than 20 across three states, I wore a lot of different hats, ultimately running all things tech as ‘Wichcraft’s Director of Technology.
As the business scaled and we approached the 10 location marker, our existing systems and processes began to break down. Like many restaurants, much of the business was managed through Excel, and Excel just wasn’t cutting it. There were a number of systems available on the market that promised to solve these problems. Systems for employee scheduling, time and attendance, and lifecycle management. Systems for inventory, production, and distribution management. Systems for online ordering and catering management. Too many systems, and they were all expensive and built on ancient technology not unlike what I’d used at Papa John’s. So instead of accepting our fate as powerless victims of this techno-dystopia, we made the bold decision to build our own version of these tools in house, from scratch.
I lead a small team (okay, it was just me and one other dude) to build a unified system that connected everything together. Labor, supply chain, and guest order management all under a single login. We certainly had some missteps along the way, but the thing worked, and because it was tailored to our specific way of doing things, it worked really well. We realized we were onto something and began exploring ways to commercialize what we’d built. Not long after, we were introduced to Shu Chowdhury and SALIDO, and I knew we’d found the right partner to help us take things to the next level. SALIDO acquired our system, and I joined Shu’s team to continue pursuing our shared vision of what we’ve come to call a Restaurant Operating System.
Biggest tip for product managers, designers, or engineers looking for work? I look for people who are tinkerers and like to experiment and really immerse themselves in a problem to deeply understand it. I also look for those who have a high degree of empathy. Given that we’re working with restaurants, I want to know that we’re hiring team members who will have an understanding and appreciation of the fast-paced and sometimes-extremely-stressful environments our GMs, chefs, and servers are operating in. SALIDO plays a critical role in these folks’ workflows, and those building our product can have a profound impact (positive or negative) on the overall success of our customers.
What is your eat “any time of the day” food? Sandwiches. I think its the animalistic nature in me, but I love to eat with my hands. Any type of sandwich on any bread! I did the math on this once… over the seven years I worked at ‘Wichcraft, I think I ate around 2,925 sandwiches.
Must order drink? I’m in love with beer. Lagers, ales, sours, porters, pilsners… I love it all, and I’m always on the lookout for something new. Lately, I’ve been all about goses. Westbrook Brewing Co. makes a gose that I especially enjoy.
Favorite cuisines? I really like Italian & southern. For old school Italian, I’m a big fan of Noodle Pudding in Brooklyn Heights. They have big appetizing portions and a surprisingly affordable wine list, like their $10 house red (yes, $10 for an entire bottle!). Then for something a bit more upscale, I’ll head to Lilia in Williamsburg. When it comes to southern, Ducks Eatery in the East Village is a gem, and I love the BBQ coming out of Mighty Quinn’s growing fast casual empire.
Where do you live in the city? DUMBO, Brooklyn. It’s a beautiful neighborhood but does have one fatal flaw — there aren’t enough restaurants! Things are changing, though, with the new Empire Stores and Dumbo Heights projects adding a ton of restaurant-friendly real estate to the mix. But while I’m excited for the new options, I also miss DUMBO’s humbler days as a rough-and-tumble artist haven, and I can sometimes be found sipping from the draft at 68 Jay St, a no-frills stronghold of the neighborhood’s early pioneers.
Anything else? Don’t be stingy. Tip your pizza delivery person well!