"We saw guys like Danny Meyer, who wrote the book on the service industry, close a restaurant in the last two years," says Bordainick about the successful New York restaurateur at the helm of Union Square Hospitality Group and the founder of Shake Shack.
He also cites celebrity chef Tom Collichio of Bravo's "Top Chef," who has also closed restaurants in several markets in recent years. "So how can we mitigate the risk factors and take a more sophisticated approach to this industry which really hasn't utilized data in this way before?"
Read MoreNYC restaurants falling victim to the city's success
On a recent summer Friday evening in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, more than a hundred New Yorkers gathered in a photo and video studio for a prix fixe dinner cooked by Portland chef Chris Bailey. After introducing himself and telling his personal story, Bailey rushed from his pop-up kitchen on a photo stage to makeshift grill on the sidewalk. He was stopped repeatedly to talk and, mostly, listen to the thoughts and opinions of the strangers tasting his food. Dinner Lab members pay approximately $150 annually, plus fees for individual events.
"It's a national focus group, and you really get useful feedback, Bailey said. "The diners are curious, too. They're willing to take a leap and try something different. Kind of go beyond their comfort zone of what makes a restaurant a restaurant."
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—By CNBC's Katie Kramer