How apt: The Root Cafe is the viewer-chosen winner of the documentary series “Growing America: A Journey to Success,” on HLN TV. The show’s idea: that MBAs from the country’s most prestigious universities could help businesses to, well, leaf out.
The win will be announced tonight when the show airs at 8 p.m. with host Ty Pennington (of “Home Makeover: The Home Edition” fame).
The Root, Jack and Cory Sundell’s downtown restaurant that features locally-grown food and locally-brewed beer, takes home $25,000 from show sponsor Holiday Inn and a plaque from the network.
The documentary series followed the teams of MBA students as they spent a week with six businesses (for the broadcast, three online). The Root’s team was from Stanford, and at the Root’s request the students (with pedigrees from such businesses as Google Analytics and Facebook India) advised on how the restaurant could improve its webpage (which the Root did) and how to target social media. More importantly for those of us who love the Root’s food, the team suggested, after talking to customers, that the Sundells consider serving dinner. As it turns out, they’d been thinking about that. Maybe some simple entrees and whistle-wetters from Rock Town Distillery.
It’s hard to imagine cameras and boom mikes in the teacup-sized Root, but the TV crew made it happen (once asking a server if he could stop, return to the kitchen and walk back to a table again with the customer’s hamburger). Celebrity Chef Herbert Wilson paid a visit, making suggestions on how to reduce ticket time and the like. The show has featured interviews with customers and scenes from the kitchen, along with a wrap-up on what changes the MBAs may have made.
What did the MBAs learn from The Root? “I think they got a glimpse into the non-stop, 24/7 lifestyle of being a small business owner,” Sundell said.