I learned along time ago that if you ask a bad question you get a bad answer. If you ask a better question you get a better answer.

As you are no doubt aware, the world's food supplies are in short supply, oil prices are extremely high and the cost of food is rising day by day.

Most restaurant owners first thoughts are how they can squeeze money out
of their suppliers so they can compete. When things are tight, most restaurant owners actually want to lower their prices.

This is like a race to the bottom of the toilet.

How about asking a better question? How about asking how I can create enough value to demand (and get) 50% higher prices?

In short, a better question is..how can I be remarkable?

Views: 0

Replies to This Discussion

Yes, it's all about scarcity thinking vs. abundant thinking. Danny Meyer, Union Square Restaurant Group in NYC, sought for ways to provide better value and worked on his Local Store Marketing to great effect following 9/11. Check out his book: Setting the Table for the detailed story from this brilliant restarateur; or read the "Matt's Notes" I compiled that summarizes the book--available for download in PDF format on the Book Club Group pages.

Hey Matt...where is the book club group???
That's a good question, and what is your answer Russ?
Sure, why not. (I am frustrated on a search for a sexy chef for Florida and just diddling around).

Better question? Uhh uh. Every restaurant owner goes out of the box with all guns blazing in an attempt to be remarkable. I don't think there's a superlative to "remarkable" - remarkabler? I think the better question is "How the Sam Hill am I going to get through this with my shirt on?" This is assuming you aren't a San Francisco restaurant infiltrated by lovely Europeans buying out the City on a Fire Sale, in which case you just sit back and thank your deity of choice, possible with a live sacrifice (lobsters work well).

Y'all are in a zero sum game. The restaurant algorithm requires that income equal or exceed outlay. So if you live in a place like..oh, let's just San Francisco for fun..where secondary staffing costs are outrageous and you are practicing the food trade at a time when gas costs are sending your customers to the grocery store or a place nearer in and food costs are what they are, and you are stuck with a finite amount of money, you're pretty much stuck with a few options.

1) Raise prices: What you are your competitors are thinking is that you can't raise prices, because nobody will eat there. The fact that you are subsidizing the dinners of numerous well heeled diners at the cost of needy kitchen drones is hardly an argument for letting your customers pay what the product is worth. Of course if you all did it, people would get used to it, after a few restaurants went under..but hey, that's business., Of course you could all decide to do it, but that's a Federal offense and prison food is awful, I hear.

2) Cut portions. While we all know that the food is not what drives the expense at a well run restaurant-(todays average food cost is about 27% - or was - down from a comfortable 32% quite a while back.

3) Cut staff. Speaks for itself. Let your chef wash dishes. After all, he's the guy who got them dirty, isn't he?

4) Cut quality: Assume your diner won't know the difference and get it from the big suppliers rather than the boutique brokers. Make your $22 steak (yeah, I know) a $22 sausage. With vidalias.

5) Cut services: Let your mom wash and iron your linen. Pick up your dry goods at Costco. Do your own books until midnight. Cut out recruiters and ad agencies. Writer letters about your restaurant to the Times.

6) Make like the airlines. Charge $15 to store a coat. Add surcharges for silverware and place settings - very European, you know. Add a $25 charge for a view seat.

7) Cheat: Add tips to the bills of dining Europeans who don't pay them, then split tips to offset what you can't pay your staff. Have your staff work off the clock and pay them under the table.

8) Add fuel and food cost surcharges. Your suppliers do, don't they? So do some San Francisco restaurants.

9) Guerrilla marketing: Get an assumed name or ten and go on Yelp and post fantastic things about your restaurant and awful stuff about your competitors. Ask your guests, uncles and aunts to write you into Zagat.

10) Beat the stuffing out of your purveyors on price.

In the end it's a supply and demand economy, so restaurateurs demand. That's how it works, or at least it's supposed to. That's assuming that anything works the way it should.
The one thing my restaurants never get criticized for is their food but the one thing that always can (and does) cause a slip up is service. If you want to run a REMARKABLE restaurant, service should be the number one priority in my opinion. If you have great food, a great place and just so-so service, you cannot command the top prices. However, if you have everything in place, service, food and ambiance, you have it all and you can get it all! I agree with the last post by Matt Urdan. I personally know Danny Meyer, who wrote me a fabulous note in my copy of Setting the Table. That book should be required reading for anyone who owns a restaurant. Danny is the epitome of everything not only a restauranteur should be, but simply what a man should be as well.
I second you on both counts. We have a much harder time finding competent front management we are comfortable sending out than good chefs. Cornell even put out a study a year of so ago showing that service actually influences the perception of flavor and food quality, so even if food and concept are spot on, service is crucial.
On Danny Meyer, absolutely. I had the pleasure of meeting him some time back, before the book, and interviewing him for an article comparing East Coast to West Coast Service. It was enlightening. His policies provide the foundations for good restaurant operation, and his book is a resource for anyone in this, or for that matter, any customer based industry,
Funny you should mention him. A friend who owns a small group of very casual locations here in California has asked me what I thought about opening a restaurant with a "star chef' in Chelsea. I told him he needs to contact Danny Meyer. Coincidence.
By the way, what do you think about Chelsea for restaurant locations?





Social Wine Club for Craft Wineries


Restaurants may feel the pinch of pricier coffee later this year

Prices for arabica coffee futures hit a 26-month high amid a drought in Brazil, which produces a third of the world's coffee  -More

McDonald's rules out all-day breakfast in push to simplify

McDonald's breakfast menu accounts for 25% of the chain's U.S.  -More

Easy ways to use 5 uncommon spring greens

As light, crisp greens arrive at farmers markets and grocery stores, chefs are finding creative ways to add them to spring me -More


Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $25 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

National Restaurant Association Offers Training DVDs on Harassment Prevention, Social Media Use, and Customer Service

The National Restaurant Association has released three new DVDs that offer best practices in dealing with harassment and discrimination, customer service training, and the first of its kind video guide on the use of social media.

Yum! Brands Reports First-Quarter EPS Growth of 24% Excluding Special Items

China Division System Sales Increased 17% with Operating Profit Growth of 80%; Yum! Reaffirms Full-Year Guidance of at Lea

Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes Certified As Nation's Largest 'Green' Restaurant Chain

National Group Salutes Country's Only Large Restaurant Group to be 'Certified Green Restaurants®'

National Restaurant Association and EatStreet Release Online Ordering Guide

The National Restaurant Association and EatStreet have released a free educational guide focusing on online ordering and emerging restaurant technology trends.

Boyd's Coffee Launches Single-Cup Coffees For Retail And Foodservice

The coffees come in a variety of roast levels and include organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified™ options: French No. 6®, Red Wagon® Organic Coffee, Good Morning™, Hi-Rev® (delivers more caffeine), and Lost Lake™ Decaf Organic Coffee.


If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.


TED: Hamish Jolly: A shark-deterrent wetsuit (and it's not what you think) - Hamish Jolly (2013)

Hamish Jolly, an ocean swimmer in Australia, wanted a wetsuit that would deter a curious shark from mistaking him for a potential source of nourishment. (Which, statistically, is rare, but certainly a fate worth avoiding.) Working with a team of scientists, he and his friends came up with a fresh approach — not a shark cage, not a suit of chain-mail, but a sleek suit that taps our growing understanding of shark vision.

TED: Michel Laberge: How synchronized hammer strikes could generate nuclear fusion - Michel Laberge (2014)

Our energy future depends on nuclear fusion, says Michel Laberge. The plasma physicist runs a small company with a big idea for a new type of nuclear reactor that could produce clean, cheap energy. His secret recipe? High speeds, scorching temperatures and crushing pressure. In this hopeful talk, he explains how nuclear fusion might be just around the corner.

TED: Sarah Lewis: Embrace the near win - Sarah Lewis (2014)

At her first museum job, art historian Sarah Lewis noticed something important about an artist she was studying: Not every artwork was a total masterpiece. She asks us to consider the role of the almost-failure, the near win, in our own lives. In our pursuit of success and mastery, is it actually our near wins that push us forward?

TED: Matthew Carter: My life in typefaces - Matthew Carter (2014)

Pick up a book, magazine or screen, and more than likely you'll come across some typography designed by Matthew Carter. In this charming talk, the man behind typefaces such as Verdana, Georgia and Bell Centennial (designed just for phone books -- remember them?), takes us on a spin through a career focused on the very last pixel of each letter of a font.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service