This small hamlet, nestled on the Central Coast, just footsteps south of Pebble Beach and a few miles North of Big Sur, known for Comstock Cottages, Eastwood memorabilia, art galleries and restaurateurs targeting the tourista trade rather than locals, faces a seasonal dilemma that catches restaurant owners by surprise with the change of seasons. The town has more restaurants than most one square mile villages. Only trumped by a
And the solution to both problems seems to haunt the owners and managers of these eateries as they jockey for primary positioning in the culinary line-up of suggestion management on “where to eat”.
On a recent walk through town on a blustery Sunday night, Luca- the newest hot spot opened by David Fink a few years ago – had an overflow crowd and the host politely informed more than a handful of tourists they couldn’t accommodate any more reservations, walk-ins or hungry diners that evening. It was 7:30. I might add although Luca’s atmosphere is casual, comfortable, and a step above the staid and conservative standard of worn and tired, Luca isn’t boasting Kellerized or Jeanty-ed food.
A further stroll down Dolores St. Carmel’s avenue of dining, proved fruitful as Richard Pepe continued to accommodate diners at Caf? Napoli. A packed house here offered an hour wait for a table.
Everything was coup de la at The Flying Fish Grill, and Piatti’s was also packing them in. But the other restaurants,
So what is the answer? We all face it. The competition down the street has a full bar, dining room and waiting area and you look around and see nothing but perfectly set tables and no patrons.
Cobb was right then and his words ring deeper, even now, with the competition for dining dollars so tight and fierce.
There is nothing more heart tugging than walking past a perfectly set dining room, candle light glowing through the light fog mist and not seeing any customers – or waiters – or staff through the large front window.
If you frequently face this situation you need to develop a plan to attract customers to fill the empty seats.
Out of the three restaurants I visited with overflowing crowds, not once did any host suggest another restaurant. Nowhere did I see a waiter in a window of the empty restaurants, and there wasn’t one sign of what the eateries that were struggling to keep the lights on where serving. Of course there were menus in the window, but in the dark of night, small print seldom tantalizes palates.
If your dining room is empty, and you don’t have a plan to fill it, you need to develop one before the New Year.
A plan is just a recipe for success. Your chef has the recipes for the back of the house, you need to get your staff together and develop a recipe for success for the front of the house. You’ll find it beats opening the doors and waiting for no one to come in.