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Reducing Food Waste: Mo Farha of Burger Boss On How They Are Helping To Eliminate Food Waste

An Interview With Martita Mestey

You should be passionate about your career choice. Otherwise, it’s fruitless.

College is overrated. Don’t believe the hype.

Save money for that rainy day. Everyone will go through that storm.

Hire people smarter than you.

We are all going to make bad decisions. Learn from them before you move on.

It has been estimated that each year, more than 100 billion pounds of food is wasted in the United States. That equates to more than $160 billion worth of food thrown away each year. At the same time, in many parts of the United States, there is a crisis caused by people having limited access to healthy & affordable food options. The waste of food is not only a waste of money and bad for the environment, but it is also making vulnerable populations even more vulnerable.

Authority Magazine started a new series called “How Restaurants, Grocery Stores, Supermarkets, Hospitality Companies, and Food Companies Are Helping To Eliminate Food Waste.” In this interview series, we are talking to leaders and principals of Restaurants, Grocery Stores, Supermarkets, Hospitality Companies, Food Companies, and any business or nonprofit that is helping to eliminate food waste, about the initiatives they are taking to eliminate or reduce food waste.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mo Faha.

Mo Farha is the Founder of Burger Boss, which opened its first location in Riverside, CA, in 2011. Since, they’ve expanded to four locations across Southern California, with Franchise opportunities now available. From the very beginning, Burger Boss’s goal has been to bring back the great American burger, which ceased to exist when large chains began mass producing them, choosing quantity over quality. Farha then came up with the idea of putting the guest in charge of “bossing” their burger. Guests can also “boss” their fries by selecting toppings and sauces.

In addition to premium grass fed beef, crispy and spicy chicken, and all-natural turkey, Burger Boss also offers a made-in-house vegan black bean patty. Guests choose between countless bun, protein, cheese, sauce, and topping options, all included in the $8.50 price point for most burgers. Premium toppings such as egg, avocado, turkey bacon, and grilled mushrooms are also available starting at 75¢. Vegan and gluten-free buns, as well as cheese and proteins, are also available.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve been a serial entrepreneur from the very beginning. I found my passion and calling when I realized I was born with a hospitality seed built for the restaurant industry. I very much enjoy seeing the smiles on consumers’ faces when they eat our food. I opened my first burger concept in my freshman year of college in1989 when I was a student at the University of Michigan. It was a hit, and I opened a second store on campus a year later. The secret? Better ingredients. Unfortunately, this industry sacrificed ingredient quality and our health for profit. The industry moved away from healthier grass fed beef to corn-fed beef, which is part of the carbon footprint we are seeing today. My mission has been and will continue to be to Bring back the great American burger that was lost in fast food, and we are doing that with Burger Boss. At Burger Boss, we believe in keeping things simple. Cows should eat grass, poultry should be cage-less, and produce should be grown locally. No growth hormones here. No antibiotics. No cheap filler. Just a delicious burger that uses only grassfed, natural goodness. That’s what burger lovers deserve.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company or organization?

You would think I’d dive into our hiring process, the pains of LOIs, managing workflows, dealing with COVID, supply chain pains, etc. However, this hit it out of the park: I was out enjoying a coffee with a friend when a notification came through to my phone; it was an article listing the top 30 emerging brands. I scrolled through the list, intrigued by who was listed, and to my surprise, I nearly spit out my coffee, reading our name on that list just below some notable brands. That moment was a great reminder of why we do what we do.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I am going to bring this way back to when I opened my first burger concept on the University of Michigan Campus. Our first day of opening was on a college football Saturday. Fans had to walk past our store to get to the stadium. As you can imagine, we had more business than we could handle. Needless to say, we burned a lot of burgers that day. Lesson learned — never open on a football Saturday, even when you think you’re ready. The good news is that our second location opened less than nine months after the first one due to its roaring success. It was a hit.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

True leadership is leading by example. Leadership is letting your team know that you are not above them and that you are a team. At the end of the day, someone has to be the quarterback and give direction and make the hard decisions.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

University of Michigan Football legendary coach Bo Schembechler told his team on his very first day on the job, “Those who stay will be Champions.” To me, that means never giving up, working hard, and don’t look back.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. What exactly are we talking about when we refer to food waste?

According to a recent report, half a pound of food is wasted per meal in restaurants, whether it’s from what is left on a customer’s plate or in the kitchen itself. Additionally, approximately 85% of the food that isn’t used in a typical American restaurant is thrown out, while only a small percentage is recycled or donated.

Can you help articulate a few of the main causes of food waste?

Approximately 4 to 10 percent of food purchased by restaurants is wasted before reaching the consumer. This is generally attributed to poor operations and poor training. For example, not using food before it expires because of improper rotations as well as improper handling of food products. These days, a third common case is the overproduction of food to prepare for large volumes of customers and to speed up wait times. Such practices include large troughs of beverages that are emptied nightly as well as ingredients that sit in warmers all day.

We are here to solve all the above.

What are a few of the obstacles that companies and organizations face when it comes to distributing extra or excess food? What can be done to overcome those barriers?

It really comes down to a logistics problem. Wait a minute. We live in a tech-enabled world where logistics issues are practically obsolete. Why are we still tolerating such a contradictory equation? We say, excellent question. Let’s solve it.

Can you describe a few of the ways that you or your organization are helping to reduce food waste?

We’ve purchased state-of-the-art equipment to help control food cost and reduce waste. One example is our new partnership with Botrista. Botrista is a made-to-order machine that distributes 99% ingredient usage without overpours. Additionally, its software tracks sales and usage, assists with re-ordering when ingredients are low, has longer shelf life due to natural concentrations and suggests changes based on drink popularity. Gone are the days when restaurants have to risk waste to offer a large variety of options.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help address the root of this problem?

Municipalities need to lead this in order to solve for some of their homeless who are hungry. Restaurants need direction and support from them.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. You should be passionate about your career choice. Otherwise, it’s fruitless.
  2. College is overrated. Don’t believe the hype.
  3. Save money for that rainy day. Everyone will go through that storm.
  4. Hire people smarter than you.
  5. We are all going to make bad decisions. Learn from them before you move on.

Are there other leaders or organizations who have done good work to address food waste? Can you tell us what they have done? What specifically impresses you about their work? Perhaps we can reach out to them to include them in this series.

Copia is a great platform that connects restaurants to Non-Profits in need. They facilitate the pickups as well as a plethora of other things. The issue becomes the fees for the restaurants. Many restaurants are on very thin margins as it is, so charging for these services isn’t for everyone.

Additionally, as mentioned above, our partnership with Botrista helps to solve a big problem with made-to-order beverages for busy restaurants. It’s not realistic to do made-to-order drinks for all fast-casual or full-service restaurants, so to be able to make a drink with the click of a button with 99% helps solve a big issue when looking at beverages outside of fountain drinks.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Using food waste to combat hunger. No one in this world should be hungry.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Barack Obama. His genuineness is contagious, and somehow he is able to inspire and motivate even when the situation looks gloomy.

How can our readers further follow your work online?






This was very meaningful, thank you so much, and we wish you only continued success.

Reducing Food Waste: Mo Farha of Burger Boss On How They Are Helping To Eliminate Food Waste was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.