Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ego….the number one killer of restaurants!

As I was watching another episode of one of Chef Gordon Ramsey’s “F-bomb” laced shows, I was truly reminded as to WHY restaurants usually fail……EGO.
Now we can go back-and-forth pontificating on whether ego is good or bad (I subscribe that it is both) but for restaurateurs and chefs it can be a recipe disaster.
Most restaurants that fail, do so because their menus are too big, too expensive, to confusing or a little of all of the above.
What and who sets those menus…..hmmmmmm?
Do you really think that 95% of the public goes out twice or three times a week to drop 60 – 100 bucks a shot on each dinner?
Do you think that foie gras milkshakes will drive the majority of diners’ ga-ga? Yes, those dishes can at times look divine (thanks to food art) and yes the ambiance is awesome. Do you think your tiny portioned “CREATIVE and EXCITING” dishes are truly the way to culinary success?
Yes, they can be, in the right place and given the right chef but those places and chefs are few and far between.
Remember, there is an extremely small number of people frequenting those locations and an even smaller number of chefs and owners that have what it takes to make it successful.
Yet, year-in, year-out the numbers that try are amazing.
I know one owner that will not put grits and biscuits and gravy on his menu….he is in the heart of Georgia….the South and has a breakfast and lunch place. He doesn’t do it because he doesn’t understand it….how can people eat that? He is not doing nearly the business he could and should be doing. Another better known chef was going to take the city of Atlanta by storm with his “culinary and edgy genius” like the aforementioned milk shakes and when it failed, very quickly, the chef condemned the palates of Atlantans. I guess we just don’t get it!
Now I have watched my third episode in a row of Gordon Ramsey’s rantings…it all boiled down to failing restaurants that did not give the people what they "the customers" really wanted.
The owner and or chef gave the people what “THEY” (the chef / owner) wanted. Fortunately, GR turned the places around….until he left, only to go back later to find most had slipped back into their own egocentric ways.
Owners, chefs, I beseech you. Study your market, LISTEN and OBSERVE to what has worked and not worked, let the PEOPLE speak…follow THEIR whims …NOT YOURS and do it well, price it fairly, and give them reasonable portions of what they understand.
The greatest and most humbling experience you can have is when someone comes back to your restaurant time-and-again and tells his or her friends about it.
Why not try and get some of that great feeling, be happily humbled (if you can) for if you do, I have a feeling YOU will be as successful as you ever dreamed and you and your chef can enjoy the exhilaration of success rather than the pain of bruised egos and busted checkbooks.

I wonder what Ray Kroch would say, after all it’s only a hamburger, fries and shakes…hmmmmmmmm?