Great article on the historical and model role of what's become known as "the host."
Click below for the full article.
Great article on the historical and model role of what's become known as "the host."
Click below for the full article.
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Have a great Labor Day weekend!
by Carey Jones
August 15, 2011
So you're ready to open up a restaurant. You've thought about your team and your concept and your menu… but what about the restaurant space?
We asked chef Dale Talde—creative director at Buddakan, former Top Chef and Top Chef All-Stars contestant, and chef-owner of upcoming restaurant Talde—his advice for restaurateurs looking for a future home.
1. Keep an open mind
You may be able to envision the neighborhood (or even street!) where you want to locate your restaurant, but keep an open mind; a spot may appear that's nothing like you pictured, but perfectly suited to your project. "I had to be sold on Brooklyn," says Talde, whose restaurant will be in the borough's neighborhood of Park Slope. "I'm a Manhattan guy. I'd always envisioned putting down roots in Manhattan. But my partners said 'Give it a chance; it's going to grow on you.' We found this spot with huge windows, on a corner, the right rent, the right space—and that was it."
2. Know your city traffic patterns
"Location, location, location" is what's often said, but go a little deeper than that; think beyond cities and neighborhoods, down to corners and addresses. One side of a city street might get foot traffic, while another doesn't; one block may have hundreds of cars pass an hour, while the next block doesn't have the same flow. "Every time the F train pulls in," says Talde of his restaurant, "boom, you've got thirty new people walking by. Maybe more." Don't just look at a space and stroll around the neighborhood: look hard at where people are moving and whether they're likely to cross your restaurant's path. "We spent three or four weeks just driving around the neighborhood," said Talde, "before we even really looked inside. You have to get to know the neighborhood first."
3. Do your due diligence
"Before we signed the lease," says Talde of his new restaurant, "we sat outside for three hours one day and counted all the people who walked by. And not just people, but what kind of people—whether they'd be our customers or not." Not all foot traffic is created equal. "If you're looking at babysitters with strollers," he said, "they're not going to stop into my restaurant. But when doctors walk by on their lunch break from the hospital nearby? Hipster couples who live around there? Those were the people we counted."
Keep an eye out for major customer sources; in Talde's case, it might be that subway stop or that hospital; in yours, it might be an office park, an apartment complex, a school or a sports field. And if you're planning delivery, say? Take an even closer look at the streets surrounding your restaurant, getting a sense of where your customers might come from, and how best to reach them.
4. Learn and benefit from other restaurants
If you're looking at a space that has been a restaurant in the past, take the time to learn about that establishment—and how it did or didn't succeed. Talde considered one space that "had had a restaurant operating for 20 years," he said; "From that, you know a community can really support a place." On the other hand, if it's turned over three times in the last four years, learn what you can about each of those failures. Does it seem as if the location played a role?
One more step: consider how your restaurant will interact with other establishments in your immediate neighborhood; they should be a major consideration in where you locate. They're competition, yes; but they're also potentially beneficial. "Overflow traffic from busy nights? That's nothing but a good thing," says Talde. And the perception of your area as a good one for restaurants benefits everyone. That said, it is important to consider the need for your services; if there are three pizzerias in two blocks, does the area need a fourth? "There was nothing like what we're trying to do," said Talde, "and that makes me feel even better about the space."
5. Know what you can afford
"One rule of thumb I've never forgotten," says Talde: "You should be able to make up your rent in one day of sales." It's critical to understand how much your restaurant will realistically bring in the door before you commit to a space. "That's absolutely key to surviving," Talde says. "If the rent is ridiculous, then walk. You might be tempted to reach for that awesome space. But keeping rent reasonable is key to your restaurant actually working. Rent and space, that's what matters in the end."
U.S. restaurant unit counts declined by -2 percent, or a loss of 9,450 restaurants, based on the most recent restaurant census conducted by The NPD Group, a leading market research company.
NPD's Spring 2011 ReCount®, which is a census of commercial restaurant locations in the United States compiled in the spring and fall each year, finds most of the total unit declines were independent restaurants, 8,650 of which closed in the census period. Chain restaurant unit counts remained relatively stable.
We find it continually challenging to get both small businesses (mostly in the restaurant, hospitality, retail and even nonprofit space) and some larger corporate communications staff to even have a conversation about sharing constructive and objective ideas on improving their operations and departmental functions.
What is it about using outside contractors that creates such institutional reluctance? Egos? Fear of losing control (odd when often times businesses are spinning out of control or have lost vision)? Fear of the consultant getting all the credit for a fresh approach to marketing, PR, community relations?
Early in my career one of the wisest moves I made was to agree to meet a trade association consultant who pitched me on improving our fundraising operations. I was new and figured he would, given his years of expertise in the area, at least give me some things to think about. He did.
We engaged him to review our political fundraising operations and offer some recommendations. He was always careful never to "steal the show" from me or my internal colleagues, but he was recognized as someone who championed these new ideas -- ideas that made us ALL look good. We finished our engagement and went about implementing the plan and things could not have worked out better. We set new fundraising records and were becoming a major player in trade association/political circles.
I guess I have never seen folks offering new ideas or wanting to brainstorm as threats. Some aren't the right fits. Some are.
With this economy I can somewhat understand internal staff being worried about asking for outside assistance in that may seem or appear to superiors as a weakness. Everyone these days is concerned about keeping his/her job. But what would cement that job security even more is to have even greater success doing that job -- and if it takes some fresh perspective, maybe it's time to take a chance on being open to new ideas, plans and strategies from a proven expert in the field.
Egos need to be cast aside. We see this primarily in the restaurant business. "Celebrity" chefs think just because they can cook they can do it all...from HR issues to crisis communications to reaching out to community leaders to build and sustain their businesses. We have seen restaurant after restaurant shun our offers for even a complimentary sit-down and just padlock the doors. Ego. Simple as that.
They say "there is no 'i' in teamwork."
If you ask many successful small business people and corporate managers what's made them thrive, often times you'll hear stories about folks they've become associated with over the years who have provided counsel, critiques and objective advice, making them stronger managers and more successful in business.
We look forward to the day when egos get cast aside and people's minds become open to new ideas. At the very least working with independent contractors can help build your network base, which isn't bad at all (and breeds goodwill) for business.
Principles for Lasting Federal Budget Reforms | Jeffrey A. Miron | Cato Institute: Commentary:
Restaurant and Hospitality Consulting
-- a holistic and restorative approach to improve the bottom line
The word “restaurant” comes from the Latin word for “restore”, and indeed a restaurant provides a restorative experience, a chance to enjoy good food and wine and company, to relax and forget about the outside world, to refresh, indulge, and rejuvenate whether the restaurant is a small counter service deli or a fine dining place with a 12 course tasting menu.
From the moment a guest calls a restaurant to reserve a table, they should feel welcome and important and that feeling should continue until they pay the bill and leave with a smile on their face. They might not even know why it all works together so well, how they got this feeling of satisfaction. The décor, the service, the menu, the music, the food will all fit together in an invisible, holistic harmony. If done right, guests will come back again and again and tell others about their great experience.
Sadly, these kinds of harmonious restaurant experiences are few and far between. There’s always a “disconnect”. The hostess is rude on the phone. The décor doesn’t fit the cuisine, it’s out of date. The atmosphere has no identity. The music is wrong and too loud. Service is indifferent, inattentive, and staff doesn’t know the menu. Guests are ignored for too long or treated like a nuisance. Entrees come out before appetizers are finished. The menus are unkempt. Food is out of date, not keeping up with the times or poorly prepared. It just doesn’t look nice. It’s not cooked right. No one can recommend a wine to go with the meal. They don’t know how to pour the wine properly. It could be one thing or many, but it just takes one thing in the experience that falls through the cracks to make a guest never come back, and tell others never to go either.
Most restaurateurs think that none of this could ever happen in their place. But it does. It happens everyday and all the time. It may be that you just need a second pair of eyes, but the restaurant consultants at Concept Branding Group will look at what’s going on in your restaurant, identify the problems and the strengths and work with you to fix the problems and build on the positives. We’ll show you how to train your staff to be able to give consistent, knowledgeable, efficient and welcoming service. Your bartenders will draw guests to the bar. Glasses will always be filled, plates cleared in time, and guests happy and restored. Solo diners, families, couples and large parties will all feel accommodated. We’ll even suggest cost effective little touches that will leave guests very pleasantly surprised.
We’ll also take a look at your menu. It should fit into your concept and not be “all over the map.” If you don’t have an identifiable concept, we’ll help you develop one. Our trained experts will sample the menu thoroughly to suggest improvements. We’ll discuss the cuisine with kitchen staff with a view to honoring the guest and keeping things fresh and creative, if that’s the goal. If the goal is comfort food, we’ll offer suggestions as to how to make it the best of its kind.
From the moment guests enter your restaurant they will be lead through a great harmonious restaurant experience, one that will restore the mind and body. They’ll walk out smiling and look forward to their next visit, a visit that will be just as good, if not better than the first.
Contact us for a review of your operation: email@example.com
©Concept Branding Group
Wow...just months into operation after so much hype, the restaurant chosen, Soul Daddy, on NBC's America's Next Great Restaurant, closes.
This brings to light the all so often reluctance of chef-operators to bring in outside and seasoned counsel to work alongside a new or struggling brand to keep it afloat.
Look for more of our views on this topic to come. In the meantime, our services related to helping hospitality operators can be found at: