The Restaurant Blog
Stubborness is a trait of large egos. Therefore, it is a principal characteristic of newbies to the food business. Anyone who has ever washed pots, pans, floors, and bathrooms, run glasses, plates and silverware through a steam spewing dishwasher, or has had a chef refuse to add more basil too the mashed potatoes knows of what I speak.
For years customers assumed I continually run out of head lettuce because it never appeared on my menu until one day I realized the majority of my customers preferred it- with bleu cheese – in the form of a wedge instead of the spring mix of miniature leaves that I was serving. I eventually caved, placed The Wedge on the menu and salad sales soared making a wilted sales category fresh, once again.
Frustration takes tops honors when we just can’t figure out what to do with a property gone bad. Of course, advice from those on the outside is never headed by industry professionals. “What do they know?” many ask preferring to struggle and be sucked in by another losing month in hopes of the “bail out weekend”.
Yes, going down the tubes if never fun. However, for those of us who have experienced it, it can be life changing and certainly opens your eyes to the foolishness an ego can contribute to one’s future.
I have heard it all. Often from that little voice, within. I went through the “I don’t sell phase, I am a builder” to the “we can make it if we just change the bread basket.”
I have also had managers and chefs claim that they too, have the answer for turn around success. Whether it is a new napkin fold or a bit more basil on the salmon, everyone has an answer. But until you realize what a disastrous dilemma you have created you can’t claim to be a real restaurateur. Here are few tips on doing it “my way.”
1). If you don’t want to take the advice of professionals with a track record at least ask your customers how they perceive your restaurant. The public’s perception of what you are is important.
2). Study the changes you have made since you have opened. Is your concept still as focused as it was or has it deteriorated?
3). Are there actual structural problems in the design of the restaurant that prohibit success?
4). Is the ambiance conducive and appealing to the demographic customer base in your neighborhood?
5). Are you a destination restaurant? If so, do you advertise to attract customers from afar?
6). Have you become a special occasion restaurant due to high prices, elaborate settings and stuffy ambiance? Nothing is worse than having a couple tell you how wonderful the evening was and then add, “We come here every time we celebrate out anniversary.” Beautiful. Just Beautiful.
7). Does your menu appeal to a Tuesday night palate?
8). Is your chef contributing to your demise or is he helping solve the problem by being creative and cognoscente of the market around him?
9). Have you developed an exit strategy because we both know, as do many of your customers that the end is near?
10). Have you learned your lesson or are you looking for another space in an attempt to recover your losses?*
*The difference between a smart businessman and an addicted restaurateur.