In the March issue, editor Michael Sanson wrote about a Cleveland chef friend who complained about how oversaturated the market is with new restaurants. He wondered how much more brutal it must be in bigger cities that have many more restaurants. How does a restaurant survive amid the competition in a major restaurant market, he asked. Here are excerpts from some of the responses.
You can’t be everything to everyone. What’s your identity? What are you great at? Keep it and the menu simple, and there’s your success. Discussions of something new or existing only bring more customers to the area. If you’re making a product or menu item that someone else makes, then ask yourself, ‘What makes mine better?’ Also, we not only focus on the menu, but service as well. We are salespeople and not robots just taking orders. It’s a relationship business and everything is sales.
Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream
I embrace competition: it brings more customers to my area, which I hope to transform into repeat guests. Also, to be ahead of the game, we found ways to increase revenue. To-go is now 14 percent of my sales, up from from 6 percent two years ago. We’ve also increased our catering and started to work with Doordash for delivery and Eat Club for corporate catering. This year, I’m also creating a small épicerie (grocery store) inside my restaurant. We’ll be selling high-end French products and doing it without losing seats. I’m also planning to open a second location of my brand/restaurant this year. After coming from France and being in the U.S. for 15 years, I can tell you that we are in a great country to do business and have great opportunities to succeed.
Cuisinett, French Comfort Food
San Carlos, CA
Since I opened my restaurant 21 years ago, approximately 40 new places to eat have followed, with some locations changing several times. Basic business principles still apply. It’s a crazy time in this industry.
Western Springs, IL
No, there are not too many restaurants. There may be too many people who run restaurants like it was 1980, 1990 and 2005. Drugstores are now selling freshly prepared food. Liquor stores are selling fresh takeout food specials. Grocery stores are selling restaurant-quality meals. The question is: Why doesn’t the restaurant industry adopt some of the best practices from the grocerant niche players?
The Grocerant Guru