Running a Successful Local Cuisine By Imitation

 Imitation doesn’t mean you copy someone else’s ideas down to the paint job. What it does mean is looking at the why of their success. What business model did they use? Once you know this you can see what steps you missed. By incorporating a successful business model, it might be possible to save your own restaurant.

Do you know your demographics? Did you choose a poor location? If you’ve opened a high-end restaurant in a neighborhood with low income residents, that could affect profit. There could be simple fixes, like lowering prices and making that known or by making your menu focused and simple instead of overwhelming. Most cities have room for multiple restaurants so if these changes don’t help it may be in your best interest to change location. Find something easily gotten to and in a popular area of town; being seen from the road is the best, potential first time customers make split decisions on where to shop all the time.

To cut down on costs use fresh ingredients; produce going to waste costs money to dispose. Not only will you save money but you’ll have a great selling point as fresh food gains in popularity. Even casual restaurants are making use of that to get people to come in, and return.

Picture by Graham Hussey picture shows Spotlight on Clerkenwell. This is Whitecross market.

Picture by Graham Hussey picture shows Spotlight on Clerkenwell.
This is Whitecross market.

A restaurant that’s doing well has a great chef and a well-trained front-of-house staff. Are your servers knowledgeable about your menu or are they as clueless as the customers? Are your servers providing impeccable service or do customers repeatedly comment on the bad service? This may signal that your servers need a return to basics course, or you may need to overhaul the staff completely. If the problem is out of their hands, the cook’s dishes are always returned, you may need to call around to his/her references if you haven’t already. If your restaurant is not the first the chef has underperformed at, you should look for a chef with a positive reputation. If you find the source of the problem and solve it quickly you can stop it from permanently affecting the restaurant’s reputation.

  • Your restaurant is your unique idea but that doesn’t mean you can’t think like a franchise. Have organizational systems in place in case any problems come up. Have a well trained staff that doesn’t rely on you for every decision. With a solid system in place you’ll also be able to reward a good cook with the ability to be creative with dishes. Knowing what’s stocked, thanks to a good electronic inventory system, you won’t have to worry that ingredients won’t be available later.

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  • Find a flexible schedule that will work for everyone; realize that your staff is there to help you reach your goal but they also want to have a life of their own. They may have spouses or other loved ones they want to spend special occasions with.
  • Also, listen to the staff. Creating an environment where your staff feel their opinions will improve the work place costs nothing. Show that you appreciate them and remember you’re only one person; they’ll see things you don’t and will share if they think it’ll make a difference.

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  • If you’re in an area with a specific interest (an annual parade/ festival, or something smaller like wine tasting) time special events to cater to that interest. You’ll know at least once a month you’ll have in influx of customers. They may come every time you hold that event if you pull it off. A “niche” group can very well bring in a large profit.
  • Never underestimate just how giving back to the community can help your restaurant. Support the people who support you.
I knew from the very start that three things were needed for my success; I needed a great head chef, location, and concept. And they all had to work together.

Seersucker

I knew from the very start that three things were needed for my success; I needed a great head chef, location, and concept. And they all had to work together.

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