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Saving local restaurants: A Harvard alum's quest to make a difference

Saving local restaurants: A Harvard alum's quest to make a difference

Spiffy's Blog Ladderworks Interview Ethan Pierce

Hi everyone! Today, I bring to you my interview with ETHAN PIERCE, Co-Founder & CEO of Grocery Outpost.

SPIFFY: What challenge are you addressing?

ETHAN: Grocery Outpost’s core mission is to help save the 660,000 US restaurants currently fighting for survival due to COVID-19. As a result of the pandemic, 70% of restaurants are at risk of closing permanently, and with them America risks losing 7 million jobs.

SPIFFY: Why do you do it?

ETHAN: Growing up, my father ran a small apple orchard in Maine. On the weekends, I would make thousands of cider donuts, serve guests and pick apples. When it closed, it was heartbreak. I know how much love and elbow grease goes into a small business, and I want to help restaurants survive.

SPIFFY: Tell me about a recent milestone by you. What impact does that make?

ETHAN: Since launching our restaurant grocery service three weeks ago, we've sold USD 10K in food to local communities, prevented thousands of pounds of food waste and provided business-saving capital to our restaurant partners.

Ethan Pierce Ladderworks Spiffy's Blog interview


SPIFFY: What is something you've unexpectedly learned from someone recently? 

ETHAN: One of restaurant partners, Irine Li of Mei Mei, practices open-book accounting. It was so shocking to me that restaurants only make 6-8% margin; it's really a labor of love.

SPIFFY: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

ETHAN: We're 100% volunteer-powered. Neither co-founder is taking a salary for this work; our mission right now is to help as many restaurants as we can. If our mission resonates with you, visit www.groceryoutpost.com to learn more about becoming a volunteer or an Outpost Ambassador for your neighborhood.

Ethan Pierce is a serial social entrepreneur hailing from Maine. After graduating from Harvard College, he launched his first startup, Palette, in New York. Since then, he's worked for a number of technology companies leading product design including Vistaprint, Fincura and Techstars. Currently, he's the co-founder and CEO of Grocery Outpost.