Keep Them Coming

The previous two guest blogs were from folks who are pretty savvy when it comes to getting more “butts in seats.”  Getting guests in the first time and getting them to come back, again and again - that’s basically what the restaurant business is all about. 

Chain restaurants are very good at this, -getting them in, getting them back; the numbers would suggest that they are much better at it than the independents are. 

A Story

In September 2005, I was transferred on short notice from Toronto, Ontario to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  I was in Food service distribution senior management, selling stuff to restaurants, delis, caterers, nursing homes, etc.  The great part about the food business is that virtually all human beings consume food multiple times each day.  Get a group of humans, you have a potential market. 

Toronto is a very culturally diverse city with 5.5 million humans living there.  Halifax is the commerce center of Atlantic Canada. There are four Provinces in that area that I would be overseeing.  This part of Canada is a demographically spread out but there is less cultural diversity.  The population in Halifax is only about 300 thousand.  Although the population of Halifax alone can consume more beer than that of Toronto, they can’t begin to consume nearly as much food. 

My job was to figure out how to get my company to get better at selling food to companies who prepared food for humans.  In the Atlantic Provinces of Canada, there were plenty of miles (kilometers), and not so many humans.  (The USA seemed so much easier.) 

Because I was there on short notice, I took a temporary downtown apartment while my wife stayed on in Toronto to sell our house and get our “stuff” ready to move.  I was in short walking distance to 20 or 30 of Halifax’s downtown restaurants. 

Nights were spent learning the nuances of this smaller and very different market place: that and trying to figure out what a Donair was.  Each night, I dined at different places looking to 1) fill my belly, which seems to always want more, and 2) trying to figure out this market where humans preferred beer over food. 

Eating lunch alone sucks.  Dining alone in the evening really sucks.  I know, single men should eat at the bar.  Sometimes I did.  But I get a different feel for a place when in the dining room; I can see the operation differently.  I wanted to see these places operate. 

One evening, I went into a long-standing, family type, 3 meal-a-day restaurant.  The place had an ideal downtown location.  I don’t remember the food that evening, but I’ll never forget the service.  It was genuinely awful. 

The restaurant was about 20% full when I arrived.  There were 4 waiters/waitresses on duty and it immediately became obvious that no one wanted to take a single (me).  I think that they felt that if they ignored me long enough, I would leave.  I should have.  I was finally seated and waited on by the waitress who pulled the shortest straw.  She didn’t want to be there, she didn’t want me to be there, and she didn’t want to “get stuck with a single”. (Maybe it was me? Did I have a bugger hanging from my nose? Was my fly open?)  I left feeling like an unwelcome outcast in a strange town.   

The next evening, not feeling as adventurous, I settled on East Side Mario’s, a Canadian chain that I previously had done business with when they moved into the New England market.  I knew that I would get fairly mediocre food in a well-lit, artificially cheery environment.  After the previous evening, this seemed appealing (artificial cheer versus perceived disdain).   

My expectations were exceeded.  Generally …the food wasn’t great – I expected this:  but the server was friendly, courteous and managed to make a single feel comfortable.  When she brought me the bill, she told me, “Now you make sure you come back again.”  I nodded yes, -made a commitment to come back.  I left feeling pretty good about the place and the city. (This is a friendly city.)

Epilogue

A few weeks after that awful dining experience, I got to meet the owner of that first restaurant.  We spoke for a while and I let him know of my bad experience.  He answered, “I don’t care about that stuff; I care about the price of bacon, I care about making money.”  He had a very successful restaurant – I thought that maybe that’s what it takes. 

When I visited Halifax last year, the chain was still operating; the independent was sadly boarded-up.    

I don’t have to tell you about this sort of thing, you know this stuff.  But sometimes, with so much on your mind, you forget.   Now get back in the kitchen, smile …or maybe growl, and cook some more frigg’n peas. 

 

 

What a pleasure life would be to live if everybody would try to do only half of what s/he expects others to do.                             –Wm Boetcker

 

Blessed is s/he who expects nothing, for s/he shall never be disappointed.                         – Alexander Pope

Views: 37

Comment

You need to be a member of FohBoh to add comments!

Join FohBoh

Advertisments

 

DEPARTMENTS

Social Wine Club for Craft Wineries

Smartbrief

Fast-casual growth comes from new openings as market matures

Sales at fast-casual eateries are growing at a pace similar to that of quickservice and sit-down restaurants as young, high-i -More

Taylor® Grills. Cooking made Easier, Faster, and Smarter.
With efficiency and food safety top of mind, the Taylor® L810 two-sided grill is a foodservice industry favorite. Optimize profits and cooking efficiency with three separately controlled cooking zones, programmable cook times, pre-set temperature and automatic gap settings. To learn more click here.

In the swim: Gulf state seafood catch safe for now

Businesses fighting to preserve commercial access to seafood fished in the Gulf states scored a big win this month when the G -More

Ruby Tuesday revitalization prompts sales growth

Maryville, Tenn.-based Ruby Tuesday posted gains in same-store sales in the fourth quarter, with a 5% rise at franchised rest -More

JOBS & CAREERS

Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $50 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

Main Event Entertainment to Open First Center in the Rio Grande Valley

Main Event Entertainment, the fastest-growing family entertainment center in America, is celebrating its new center opening in Pharr, Texas, a suburb near McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley. Doors will open to the public at 9 a.m. on August 6.

Darden Announces Leadership Succession Plan

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) announced that Clarence Otis is stepping down as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Company. Darden's Board of Directors has appointed the Company's current Independent Lead Director, Charles A. Ledsinger, Jr., as Independent Non-Executive Chairman of the Board, effective immediately. The Company also announced that it has amended its corporate governance policies to provide for the separation of the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer roles.

National Restaurant Association Statement on NLRB Joint Employer Decision

Today the National Restaurant Association issued the following statement regarding the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) decision asserting McDonald’s Corporation is a joint employer of its franchisees:

National Restaurant Association Issues Support for Clearer ACA Definition of Seasonal Employment

The bipartisan legislation will align the definitions of seasonal employment in the Affordable Care Act and streamline the applicable large employer determination process.

Rising India, Inc. Announces Acquisition Strategy Toward a Sizable Slice of the QSR Pizza Pie

Rising India, Inc. (OTC: RSII), announces today it will immediately begin work toward the acquisition of up to 5 profitable stores in the popular Quick Serve Pizza Restaurant segment. Current targets are currently earning about $450,000 in revenues per year, per store. Acquisition of targets would provide immediate cash flow identified from profitable longstanding, absentee owner operations with proven model success.

CROWD FUNDING

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 TALKS VIDEO

TED: Ze Frank: Are you human? - Ze Frank (2014)

Have you ever wondered: Am I a human being? Ze Frank suggests a series of simple questions that will determine this. Please relax and follow the prompts. Let's begin …

TED: Heather Barnett: What humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime - Heather Barnett (2014)

Inspired by biological design and self-organizing systems, artist Heather Barnett co-creates with physarum polycephalum, a eukaryotic microorganism that lives in cool, moist areas. What can people learn from the semi-intelligent slime mold? Watch this talk to find out.

TED: Shih Chieh Huang: Sculptures that’d be at home in the deep sea - Shih Chieh Huang (2014)

When he was young, artist Shih Chieh Huang loved taking toys apart and perusing the aisles of night markets in Taiwan for unexpected objects. Today, this TED Fellow creates madcap sculptures that seem to have a life of their own—with eyes that blink, tentacles that unfurl and parts that light up like bioluminescent sea creatures.

TED: Nikolai Begg: A tool to fix one of the most dangerous moments in surgery - Nikolai Begg (2013)

Surgeons are required every day to puncture human skin before procedures — with the risk of damaging what's on the other side. In a fascinating talk, find out how mechanical engineer Nikolai Begg is using physics to update an important medical device, called the trocar, and improve one of the most dangerous moments in many common surgeries.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service