Restaurant Startup Tip: Be Flexible

For the first time restaurant owner, opening that restaurant is often the realization of a dream. As such, the entrepreneur probably imagined certain aspects of the restaurant long before the doors first opened to the public. One Fat Frog sees this all of the time in our customers, who walk around the warehouse talking about every detail of the restaurant they planned since they were children. The key to running a successful restaurant, however, is being flexible and not sticking to what you originally imagined simply because it’s what you originally imagined.

If you are starting a new independent restaurant, there is a learning curve, not only for you, but also for your customers. When your restaurant first opens, your customers know next to nothing about your restaurant, from the ambiance to the service to the menu. It takes time for customers to learn what you offer and decide what you like and first like. During the first few weeks, you should take notice of what gets complements, what gets complaints, and what gets no comment at all. Take note of those things but don’t change anything yet. A menu item that gets little attention initially may slowly become popular by word of mouth. Conversely, a menu item that sounds good but is disappointing may get ordered a lot in the beginning but sales will dwindle once word gets out that it’s not very good.

Once a month or so has gone by, you can make decisions about your restaurant based on feedback from customers. You may have dreamed that your pies would be the best part of your restaurant, but if customers are not ordering them or if customers say they aren’t that good, it’s time to be flexible. Maybe that means hiring a chef who specializes in pies. Maybe it means dropping pies from the menu and making your most popular item the feature. The same flexibility should be used beyond just the menu. Are customers saying the music is too loud? Are there not enough TVs in your sports bar? Are the chairs uncomfortable? Did they feel neglected while waiting to be seated? All of these are things that you should address. Your ideal restaurant is likely not exactly what you thought it would be. Your ideal restaurant is the version of your restaurant that is most liked by your customers. Listen to them and be flexible. That doesn’t mean to abandon your ideas entirely – you won’t want to turn your Italian restaurant into a seafood restaurant because the customers love your salmon – but it means to take feedback seriously and make any necessary changes to make your restaurant better.

If you need any advice on starting your restaurant, One Fat Frog can help you. We have regular classes as well as on-site industry experts who can answer all of your questions. If you need some advice, come visit the Frog.

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