My wife and I just got back from a pretty good dinner at a Zagat-rated restaurant in Woodinville, WA. “Pretty good” might seem good, but at $83 it should have been “great.”
Frankly, I’m not concerned about the money. I’m concerned that I happen to know that the owners of this particular restaurant are dismayed about the current downturn and are seeking a way to turn things around. If only they had a way to experience their service as if for the first time and see it with fresh eyes. If they did, they might be as startled as were my wife and I:
- How many people does it take to seat a restaurant guest?
It sounds like a joke, but there’s no punchline. Here’s it’s three. If you’re going for a particular service level and if that service is impeccable, that may be acceptable. However, when greetings are slow, multiple parties are seated in a cloud of confusion, and only one of the three is doing the seating, there is wasted pay ready to be saved.
- How many people does it take to wait a section?
Again, I fully appreciate attention to service level. But enough support staff flitting about filling water glasses and busing tables only goes so far.
- What about the food?
All that overhead of those excess people for the sake of appearances costs money. So the food needs to be a bit pricier than a chain. It also needs to be better. But it’s not. How, with so much staff to keep an eye out, do you burn veal and over cook spaghetti?
Take a moment out to ask yourself what your real value is. If you’re a restaurant, you’re not serving up countless wait staff, full water glasses, and instantly refreshed tables. I’d even argue – against reason and logic – your primary value isn’t even your food.
Your value is the memories you help create by bringing what someone else considers to be the perfect food, place, and moment together in a singularity. That’s when proposals happen… birthday parties… break-ups… life. Your place and your food needs to be perfect enough to help those moments happen, and not stand in the way. Anything less is shooting yourself in the head. Anything more is just your own ego and pride.