Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How not to run a restaurant

I'm not now, nor have I ever been a restaurant/bar owner. However I have worked in enough to know a thing or two, on top of being blessed with a fair amount of common sense. So when I see something that isn't going to work it's either from experience working in the field or just plain old common sense says that's just not cutting it.

Up until a few days ago I worked in a restaurant that I can with 97.9% positivity guarantee will not be open for more than another 6 months. It's to bad because the owners have put a ton of time and money into the place, unfortunately they don't have the experience or knowledge to keep it open. So here's a list of how not to run a restaurant if you want it to be successful and stay in business.

1. Don't~ wake up one morning and decide since you love food you should open a restaurant.
Do~ Do your research and when you think you know everything and you're ready to open a restaurant, stop and research more. Learn every little thing you can from successful establishments that have been open for several years.

2. Do~Know what you want from your establishment. Decide on a theme and work with that theme.
Don't~ Try to be everything to everyone. If you're a bar than be bar, of you want to be family friendly, then go with that,fine dining, etc. You can not be a fine dining restaurant the is also a sports bar/family place/party bar/banquet hall//.

3. Do~ Come up with an original menu with a decent selection and a signature item or two.
Don't~ Have a novel for a menu, to many items and so many things can go wrong. From the kitchen to the servers, a large menu is just asking for trouble.

4. Do~ Make sure the menu has a nice layout with easy to read script and prices, as well as a description of each item and what it comes with.
Don't~ Use crazy colors that make the menu hard to read.

5.Do~Have one person in charge of all ordering of supplies.
Don't~ Have several people ordering different things, this is when something gets ran out of at the worst possible moment.

6.Do~Make sure if it's on the menu that it's available.
Don't~Put anything that is not constantly in stock on the menu. Save those things for daily specials.

7.Do~Make sure when hiring staff that you check into their references and prior employment whenever possible.
Don't~ Hire people with absolutely no experience and throw them into their job after a day.

8. Do~ Make sure you know all the rules, regulations, and laws in regard to pay and treatment of staff.
Don't~ Break any of those rules, or laws.

9. Do~ Involve your family in the business, if they're able to contribute in anyway.
Don't~ Bring your family issues or unruly children to the job. Both of those things spill over to your customers and staff.

10. Do~ Treat your staff with respect, courtesy, and honesty.
Don't~ Take your stress out on employees, yell or demean them, or lie to them.

11. Do~ Make sure you pay your staff on the day that pay is due. They don't work for free, and yes bartenders and servers receive tips, but pay should be given on time every time regardless if they're a tipped employee or regular paid employee.
Don't~ Make employees ask for their pay, not pay them on the day you specified was payday when they were hired, or tell them about your money problems as an excuse for not paying them on time. If you can't afford to pay them, then let them go or close your doors.

12.Do~ Pay employees according to the job they do. Floor managers should be paid more than the bartender and other servers due to the amount of work they do.
Don't~ Pay all employees the same and think that you will keep quality people on staff. Not paying fairly is a sure fire way to make your best staff, someone elses best staff.

13.Do~ Have a employee hand book and complete training system in place for new hires.
Don't~ make the rules up as you go for either, or allow an improperly trained person on the floor.

14.Do~ Have open communication with staff and guests.
Don't~ Send mass texts to employees regarding issues you have with one or more of them, berate them, or to address a change in rules or a grievance.

15.Do~ Be as polite and accommodating as possible with guests, if an issue arises do everything in your power to make it right.
Don't~ Comp an entire tab for one or two complaints, when just taking the offending item off the bill will suffice.

16.Do~ Advertise, everything from coupons, yellowpages, news papers. Any where and everywhere to get the name out there.
Don't~ Stick to one area when advertising,or wait till the last minute to put the word out about a special event.

17.Do~Let the customers see you, and from time to time personally take a minute to greet them and thank them for their business.
Don't~ Get in the way of servers or bartenders trying to do their job, while you are making your rounds, and don't hang around the customers table/area of the bar conversing with them unless they clearly want to talk to you. Most people are not entering your establishment with the purpose of hanging out with you. They are not your friends they are your customers.

18.Do~ Listen when a complaint is being made about a member of your staff.
Don't~ Yell at or chastise said staff member in front of anyone else, staff or customer.

19.Do~ Listen when someone whose been in the profession for longer than you has something to say, or a suggestion on what may make things run more smoothly.
Don't~ Think you know everything and the person talking to you is beneath you because your the owner.

These are just some of the basics.If I sat here long enough or asked others I know who have worked in this business I could easily list another 20 or 30 dos and don'ts. But you get the general idea.

Have you worked in the food and liquor industry? If so what would you add to this list?

So here's a little update/add on. After talking to a really good friend whose also been in the business. Again there's probably several dozen more that could be listed. These are just the ones that come to mind from places we've worked, places we've patronized, and stories we've heard from others.

20. Do~ Hire enough staff to cover the amount of business you get, as it gets busier make sure you have enough people for those times.
Don't~ Have less than the necessary staff on your busiest nights.

21. Do~Make sure your building is up to code and well maintained. This includes being anal about hygiene, cleanliness and sterilization.
Don't~ Allow your kitchen to be a pit, allow tools such as coolers, dishwashers etc. to fall below regulated temps, or for the bar area to be anything less than pristine.

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