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Vol. 6, No. 13 | So You Want to Open A Restaurant
Since last week I’ve been helping with a restaurant opening. I owe a few people email responses, please forgive me and give me another two weeks.
I didn’t think I had much to say and then I started writing and realized I had a lot of thoughts running in the background this week. Here’s what I’ve been thinking:
Opening a restaurant is not the same thing as running a restaurant. It’s no less than ten times harder. There are so many hurdles just to get up to the opening week (licenses, permits, construction, etc). And then the actual logistics that are required to take actual welcome guests as another completely different undertaking. Now that I have a different view this time, I realize that it’s the exact same as producing a large event.
Be kind to restaurants during their opening week. I checked out a new restaurant that’s been on my list since they opened a few months ago. I read some of the reviews before I booked the reservation and one was from someone that visited the first day. They absolutely ripped the place apart. The owner commented and basically said, “we can’t believe you wrote this review when we’re such a new restaurant. You should have given us some time to work out the kinks.” There are lots of people that want to be the first person to try a restaurant and while restaurants also want you there, please know that they’re still testing things. That’s what you’re signing up for and this should be a widely known agreement. It’s beta. If you’d like an experience that is more representative of where you think they should be, give them three months.
My smartest idea last week was to have comment cards. Well, I think this was smart, but I’ll let you know how it actually goes. Back in the day (ay yi yi), restaurants used to give out actual pieces of paper to receive feedback on a guest’s experience. Then reviews went digital and restaurants stopped doing this. I think this was a mistake. I think digital reviews are great and I rely on them myself, but for the first few months of opening, I think restaurants should go analog. Customers, in the end, will do whatever they feel like doing, but I think at least if they have an opportunity to leave their thoughts in the restaurant in, they might be willing to give the restaurant time to work out those kinks.
Communications might be the most useful degree there is. A lot of people think that I do many things, but I actually only do one thing…I figure out the story and then execute how to do it. Everything is centered on what I learned studying communications, but just using different mediums. If you’re opening a restaurant, find someone with a communications degree.
Around midnight I was wrapping up at the restaurant and heard that my friend’s mom passed away from covid. I just don’t know how to process this yet.
Hope you’re all safe and well.