You and your friends pick out a restaurant you have never been to before and decide on a time. Your waiter hands you a menu with so many items on it, you feel overwhelmed. Wait, where are we in the world? India, China? Where do you start? You look at your group of friends and think, who picked this place out? Oh, yeah, that’s right, you did.
Here’s another example of a go-to restaurant, “No No,” akin to a dark episode of Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen, with a menu that contains stylized perfect pictures of the food. Both scenarios do the establishment an injustice and in the process turns the consumer away from ever wanting to go there again. For some eateries, that is a good thing. For others, revamp and rethink why you are in business!
For me, as a dual-credentialed professional chef, before a restaurant or food establishment opens, they should have decided on their premise before-hand, meaning, just like a book, what it is all about summed-up into a simple sentence. Your menu should be the same, one sentence that states their entire establishment’s goals.
You’re a steak house? Why do you have a whole menu devoted to other items? You’re a fast food restaurant that became famous for its burgers but you serve fish, sundaes, salads? I can’t tell you this phrase over and over enough.
Stick to one thing and do it right. If you do it right, build a name around it. Not a name around a bunch of different things. Pictures do not do justice, no matter how good the photographer, even if it’s your cousin Vinny.
A few years back, I walked into a bakery in New Jersey and saw all these people and all these petrified cakes sitting on the shelves. The dried up, fake cake sitting on the a la carte menu or the 20 years-old stale cakes sitting in a bakery ago did not look appealing! And customers were ordering from this baker!
Sure these cakes looked great the day you made it but let’s get real folks. Twenty years! Get rid of it!
Fresh, simple and easy!
What’s the best approach to take when selecting a restaurant and for you as a diner? Fresh fresh fresh and simple, and easy, and focus on one item that you love and what the place is a known for is the success. I am speaking of. Chick-fil-A We may not like his religious beliefs but the owner of Chick-fil-A made a fortune selling fried chicken sandwiches on a hamburger bun. One thing, one premise. Later, he added grilled chicken for the people who can’t swallow the fried stuff.
So, if it takes time to scout out that special place to eat. Take your time. Too many people are just simply satisfied with the mediocre. Too many restaurants are too busy trying to capture all so the diner won’t go elsewhere. To me, that is failure served up as a wrap.
Remember, if you are a restaurant, we don’t want to see how your Aunt Lily made that cake when she was in her 50’s, and certainly not the photo from that year on your menu. If you are a burger place, do that well and nothing else. If you are a seafood restaurant, be known for your seafood. Remember also, one simple menu will get you a lot further than a whole lot of pages in a novel filled with “floury”words.
Chef Mary Beth is a professional chef who has made her career as a private personal chef in the luxury field for over 25 years. Chef Johnson is the recipient of numerous culinary and visionary awards in her field and is often in the media for her expertise as well as appearing on television and she is an author to writing for major media publications.