Episode 27

Published on:

7th Jun 2023

Service with a Smile: Mark Setterington's Recipe for Exceptional Customer Experience as a Restaurant Co-Founder and CEO

In this episode of the Titans of Foodservice Podcast, Nick speaks with Mark Setterington, Co-founder and CEO of Island Fin Poke Company, a franchise with 26 open locations, and 65 more on the way. Mark shares his journey of finding a job after college, which wasn't easy due to a lack of experience, and the valuable lessons he learned in managing costs and maintaining curb appeal. He talks about his current position as a food service broker, working with chefs, general managers, and owners of restaurants. Mark also shares insights about successful franchise models and local community engagement.


  • "I can see if the food’s appearance is right because so much of our food makes it onto social media. Then I have people that are looking at the reviews every day, and the reviews aren't the gospel, but if you start to see consistent comments in the reviews, where there's smoke, there's fire. There is something to be said there." -Mark Setterington [24:38]
  • "The most important thing you can do is network and find some people that you can build relationships with that are willing to share with you, and not just successes. I could spend days talking to you about all the places I've gone wrong in my career. But the best thing that you can do is find people that care enough about you, to be honest, and upfront about what went wrong and how they would change it so that you don't make the same mistakes. You're going to make your own mistakes.” -Mark Setterington [41:10]


02:29 Working Through College and Starting a Career in the Restaurant Industry

11:59 The Founding and Expansion of Island Fin Poke

33:26 The Challenges and Opportunities of a Franchise

35:39 Advice for Starting a Restaurant Business

41:10 The Value of Networking


Portillo Sales


Nick: nick.portillo@portillosales.com

Mark: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-setterington-29a50713/

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About the Podcast

Titans of Foodservice
Nick Portillo shares with you the things he has learned on his own journey of building a successful business in the food service industry.

About your host

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Seth Creekmore