The restaurant industry is shifting its orientation, and exploring unfamiliar territories to stay afloat, more specifically in New York City where restaurateurs are unafraid of getting into the bar-slash-restaurant category, or vice-versa. Lucky for places such as P.F. Chang’s or the American Deli that have a strong foothold in the restaurant business, they can stay that way.
But for the less established food enterprises like Mekelburg’s, the shift is a balancing act. So, imagine this: it is a grocery in the front, and a bar at the back where beers, wines, and bar chow like oysters topped with Sambal, or Porchetta sandwich, are served. But the fact that it is still a restaurant is inescapable. There’s also this place called Rose’s in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn that was once an Italian restaurant called Franny’s, that somehow decided that it is much better off serving some mixed drinks along with a small menu consisting of something like fried olives, burger, and a few main course. So the concept seems to be working and many other New-York chefs are following this move.
There is a comforting appeal to eating in a bar, rather than in a restaurant, per se. There is no emotional investment needed, unlike eating in a restaurant. The bar lends a relaxed approach to dining without so much pressure that you need to HAVE something. Which is why the no-fuss, no-pressure approach to eating in a resto bar is an attractive alternative to a traditional dine-out in a restaurant, and perhaps one of the reasons why restaurateurs and chefs are giving it a shot.
Yet, there is still a high failure rate for restaurants, and “according to Cornell and Ohio State Universities, 59-60% of restaurants fail within the first three years, and as much as 75% could fail within the first five.” The figures are discouraging and could dampen the entrepreneurial spirit, and unlike the risk-taking chefs of New York, it could be hard to bounce back once the establishment hits rock bottom. But it pays to take risks, because in the end, the rewards could outweigh the risks, and that is why many entrepreneurs are still gunning for it.
So what will give you an edge over the others? You may want to think about these things before starting your own restaurant.
A Unique Selling Point
This is the part where you need to think of something that only your restaurant can deliver, and you have to think outside the lines of great food, great service, because everyone in the food business is already making that claim. You need to give your customers an emotional latch on you, and you cannot just do that with great food or great service. You must create an appeal that touches their emotions, and speaks to their heart, for this is something that they’ll remember you by and make them frequent customers.
Talent And Strategy Go Hand-In-Hand
The essence of having a restaurant goes beyond the wonderful food, so to think that talent will win over the customers is lacking in strategy and may lead to an eventual downfall. You may think that the excellent taste or quality of your food makes up a big chunk of the success chart, but there are several other elements that are just as important, namely, service, marketing and management skills. In other words, you have to think as a whole on how the business works and plan your move accordingly. Ask yourself some questions like, “how knowledgeable is your staff to serve your market? What are your customers ordering and how many of each? What is your food cost vs. selling cost?,” to gauge how well you know your business and how you can act on these information.
The Dangers Of A Large Menu
You are not necessarily a cut above the rest by offering a wide selection of food items, because it can actually do the restaurant more harm than good, and here’s why you could just be shooting yourself in the foot.
- A large menu lacks focus, and when it does, it confuses your customers and turn them off when they can’t identify your specialties.
- A large menu takes longer to prepare, which could decrease the productivity of your kitchen crew.
- A large menu requires more inventory items, allowing more spoilage.
- A large menu needs more equipment and manpower, and this means additional funds are needed.
And if all else fails, and that means your restaurant is no longer drawing in the crowds, you can go where SOME have gone before, and that is to revamp your place. Surely, if the restaurants in New York City can resuscitate itself, there is no reason why anywhere else in the world it cannot be done.