Episode 18 : How to Make it in the Restaurant Industry




Michael is the president of Interaction Restaurants Group a restaurant management and holding company that deals with the world’s biggest brands and chains such as Starbucks and Pizza Hut. This is the story of Michael Aaronovici, whose parents pushed towards a career in accounting but who quickly switched to the road less traveled and became an entrepreneur. In this episode, see how his love for people and building successful business propelled him to where he is today.


Michael’s Growth Story Book Title: 


I love building, I’m a developper. That’s what I’ve done for all these years with these americans chains. I develop. I take their ideas, their concepts, adapt it to the local market and roll it out. 

What you’ll learn:

  • Before being an entrepreneur, Michael was an auditor at Richter. He had followed his parents’ advice who recommended him to get a profession, even if his father himself definitely had the entrepreneurial flair.
  • Putting the cheese on top of the ingredients on the pizza, café allongé, peanut butter dumpling, are all things we may not realize are typical of the Montreal/Quebec market. 
  • The fast food and restaurant business being directly touched by the rise of the minimum wage in Canada will probably suffer a lot because the profit margins are very small.

Notable quotes:

  • “When you’re doing something for a very long time the same way, you need a little bit of fresh thinking.” – Michael commenting on how synergizing the marketing and promotions between the different locations helped a lot to figure out which were the best practices.
  • “We got it, not because we had to most money or offered the most money. We got it based on cultural fit. Howard Schultz was comfortable with me. – Michael on landing the Starbucks deal.
  • “Now you have to convince some executives from Wichita, Kansas, that whatever works in the rest of the world, doesn’t work here! – Michael on how the Quebec market is unique so tailoring to it can be tricky when you don’t own the brand you’re working with.
  • “You have to love people. Because it is more than anything else, a people business. – Referring to the numerous interactions of the restaurant business that are based on the people: clients, employees, franchisers.

Show notes: 

03:55 –  Michael Aronovici is president of Interaction Restaurants Group: a restaurant management and holding company. He’s been involved with brands such as Pizza Hut, Starbucks Coffee, Cultures and most recently, PF Chang’s.

04:15 – Before that, Michael was an auditor at Richter.

04:20 – As a big believer in volunteering, Michael is currently the president of Federation CJA Network’s division.

05:00 – Interaction Restaurants was created in 1990.

06:55 – Michael parents are from eastern Europe, they were children during World War II.

07:20 – Michael attended McGill University and did an undergrad degree in Finances.

09:25 – After graduating, Michael followed his father’s advice to get a professional title and went in the CPA program to become an accountant. He really didn’t enjoy it but was actually good at it.

13:47 – Their first deal was Pizza Hut which was owned by Pepsi.

15:19 – David mentions the recent movie about McDonald’s “The Founder”, where a similar restaurant business VS real estate business conversation happens.

50:30 – One time, Michael took Howard Schultz to St-Viateur bagels and the Victoria fish market while visiting the stores. They went on Mont-Royal to eat.