Operations Leader Feature: Paul Espaillat, Oerther Foods

Cassie Ebinger
Published On:
Dec 20, 2019

Improving performance across locations is a common goal shared by multi-unit restaurant operators. Unfortunately, there are several barriers that are getting in the way of achieving this objective. Most of these challenges are employee-oriented, including rising labor costs and employee turnover. 

McDonald’s franchisee, Oerther Foods, is an organization that is no stranger to these common challenges. Founded in 1973, the franchise operator has grown to 24 locations across Florida, competing with some of the world’s largest theme parks for both customers and employees.

Paul Espaillat has been with Oerther Foods for 23 years, serving in his current role as VP of Operations for the last seven. Paul shares that some of the 2019 priorities for Oerther Foods include helping managers to focus better at running shifts in restaurants and engaging them in digital platforms across all departments (operations, accounting, etc.). These are in large part an effort to increase guest visits by executing on hospitality, high quality products, and speed of service. 

Taking into account his personal experience as well as his experience with the Zenput platform, Espaillat shares tips across three important categories: Compliance, visibility, and productivity. 


Confidence in store compliance with procedures and key initiatives is essential to running multi-unit restaurants.  Espaillat explains that before adopting a solution like Zenput, mid-management team members had to visit every location to verify the roll-out of new initiatives. 

Introducing technology to verify compliance that the procedure has not only been completed, but completed properly has been crucial to growing success. “Instead of going to all 24 restaurants, we can just go visit the one or two stores that are not in compliance,” says Espaillat. “From there, you can identify if this is a training issue or something larger. Correcting a problem is more identifying what the root cause is to avoid it from happening again in the future” he explains. 


Espaillat believes that when you operate in an antiquated way with pen and paper or are dependent on phone and email, things will never work the way you intend because someone, somewhere along the way, will drop the ball.

An example of this that Espaillat has experienced directly in his restaurants is around equipment malfunctions. “We have seen a drastic change just verifying that our equipment is in working order,” says Espaillat. After implementing a food safety check using Zenput, Oerther Foods was able to easily identify when temperatures are out of range. This automatically prompts the facilities team to contact the appropriate restaurant in an attempt to troubleshoot the issue over the phone. If unable to satisfy the issue at hand, a member of the facilities team is dispatched for immediate attention. 

Espaillat has found in his experience that in 80% of cases it is an equipment problem and 20% of the time it’s a training issue - Leveraging technology will help operators to have real time visibility for the confidence needed to be successful with food safety protocols and beyond. 


Productivity is hugely important across the entire organization. 

At the restaurant level, Espaillat identified a task that proved to be mundane and ineffective. By taking this activity down from 24 hours to 6 hours a day, Espaillat saved 18  hours of wasted work time. Freeing up significant time to impact the guest experience and increase guest frequency inside the restaurants helps with the top line by making employees more productive.


The biggest change Espaillat is looking to accomplish within the next two years is embracing automation and more technology moving forward. “How do we continue to simplify what we have in place?” reflects Espaillat. 

Listen to the full webinar and Q&A with Paul Espaillat for more!

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