Never having been to
One of the city’s leading hospitality specialists is Stephen Starr. His Starr Restaurant Organization – a conglomerate of 14 properties in Philly,
The first night in
The next Starr experience was lunch at Buddakan – two days in a row.
Now Starr’s group is not creating any cutting edge Pan- Asian fusion food. Thank God. He is also not caught up in the comfort food movement that everyone seems to eventually want to conquer. The operator isn’t priding himself out of the Tuesday and mid week market: He isn’t flaunting prix fixe menus, and his staff isn’t preparing, selling or serving half dollar sized portions. As the economy becomes more uncertain, as foreclosures mount, and as consumers become more tempted with other choices, expensive menus will take a knock during the price conscious early week nights. Starr is offering what is perceived as contemporary food with a culinary twist. What shines in his galaxy of properties is the ambiance that each of his properties boast.
And that is one of the most important elements in the successful restaurant equation. Is your space inviting and comfortable? That’s the question most restaurant owner’s seldom ask once they open.
A firm believer in the five year remake – especially in smaller cities, I believe that every restaurant needs somewhat of a facelift after a half decade run. I don’t profess to be the complete remodeler, yet a new coat of paint, a change in artwork and accessories and possibly new fabric on the seats or banquettes will offer a complete new feel to regular customers and an outward glow to new visitors.
Think about the life of a restaurant. It opens and under a full burst of steam and enthusiasm comes to life. If all goes well – food style, service, ambiance, attitude and value will all be applauded by the public and success will be a hands grasp away. In all likelihood, unless fortunate enough to attract investors, managers, and concept teams, you will work hard and make a very acceptable living. And, once in that comfort zone you will lose sight of the quick remodel. You won’t think you need it. Yet, your competition, down the street could be Stephen Starr or someone like him.
Regional chains are becoming more popular with diners across the country. If you have your eyes set on multi unit development and the success a small group of restaurant brings, keep your eye on the ambiance. Everyone else is.
Tomorrow: Does Starr’s Service Shine?