Unlocking Deep Hospitality and Building Community with Shawn Walchef of Cali BBQ Media


Loyalty is Hospitality - Shawn Walchef has built a business and community on hospitality. For Walchef, hospitality extends beyond a warm greeting, and into creating friendships built on trust.

Be the Show, Not the Commercial - If you have heard Shawn Walchef speak, you know his philosophy of being the show, meaning telling your story, over advertising to potential customers. He truly believes that customers don’t buy from you until they buy into you

Opportunities and Connections - Shawn Walchef has made it his life work to create deep connections and authentic relationships. That intention has brought him and Cali BBQ opportunities that he couldn’t fathom.


Building Loyalty Through Hospitality

Shawn Walchef, founder of Cali BBQ Media, has a unique definition of hospitality. For Walchef, hospitality is more than just a warm greeting; it’s about creating lifelong relationships built on trust. 

While at the National Restaurant Association Show 2024 in Chicago, Walcef discussed the importance of building a community with host Arun Kumar. 

"Hospitality, to me, is kindness to a stranger. How do they become more than a stranger?” explains Walchef. “If it's lifetime value, then you need to move from the welcome into friendship. And the only way that happens is through trust." 

Walchef's philosophy extends beyond traditional branding and marketing, focusing on the human connections that truly define a successful business. 

"It's the humans that impress me the most," expresses Walchef of his appreciation for the personal touch.

Embracing Storytelling Over Advertising

No better way exhibition of the personal touch for Walchef than storytelling, which he advocates for over traditional advertising. He believes this principle is crucial for engaging potential customers and implores business to “Be the show, not the commercial.” 

“The problem with most brands when they think about marketing is they think about advertising and nobody wants to see an advertisement," says Walchef. "If you're willing to be vulnerable, to speak your truth, you will attract your tribe.”

Creating Opportunities Through Connections

Walchef's continued dedication to creating deep connections and authentic relationships has brought unprecedented opportunities to him and Cali BBQ Media, such as the opportunity to collaborate with respected industry veteran and television star, Chef Robert Irvine

"Robert Irvine, who has 7500 employees across all of his brands... I had him on my show. We had a great conversation. He's like, if you ever need anything, Shawn, this is my contact information." 

This connection proved invaluable when Walchef needed advice on a Navy contract for a fast-casual concept, and demonstrated the power of genuine relationships in business success. 

Shawn Walchef's commitment to serving his community and leveraging tools like Incentivio to enhance service showcases his innovative approach to hospitality and business growth.

Episode Links

Cali BBQ Media Online: https://content.calibbq.media/

Cali BBQ Media Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/calibbq/

Shawn Walchef Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shawnpwalchef/

Shawn Walchef TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@shawnpwalchef

Shawn Walchef LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shawnpwalchef/

Cali BBQ Media TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@calibbq

Cali BBQ Media YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@CaliBBQMedia

Cali BBQ Media LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cali-comfort/



Shawn P. Walchef (@shawnpwalchef) is the founder of Cali BBQ Media, a podcast host, business coach, and proud dad. Since opening Cali BBQ in 2008, his family-run restaurant and media company in San Diego has generated over $30 million in sales. As a restaurateur who started during the Great Recession, Shawn mastered using digital tools and innovative ideas to stay afloat. During the pandemic, he and his team developed a scalable plan that tripled the profitability of the traditional full-service restaurant model.

Shawn hosts two weekly video podcast series: Digital Hospitality and Restaurant Influencers. These podcasts are part of his growing media empire, which also includes content creation, consulting, and digital services to help others with their smartphone storytelling. His strategies have garnered attention from major media outlets like Amazon Prime TV, Bloomberg TV, Entrepreneur, Inc., Eater, ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox News. Committed to helping others succeed, Shawn is dedicated to guiding businesses to the right digital tools and social media strategies to unlock endless opportunities. 

His Motto: “Stay Curious. Get Involved. Ask for Help.”


Data Delicacies is a weekly podcast that dives deep into the world of technology and data as it pertains to restaurants. Host Arun Kumar interviews some of the best and brightest in the industry about all things hospitality tech, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

Data Delicacies on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/29ExS0n9X3Z3FyK4HuSPKH

Incentivio Online - https://www.incentivio.com/

Incentivio Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/incentivio/

Produced by Incentivio & Cali BBQ Media - https://www.incentivio.com/ | https://betheshow.media

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