I hate most reality shows but I do admit a penchant for a few. One of them is Chef Gordon Ramsay's show on Fox, Kitchen Nightmares. The chef goes around and helps failing restaurants figure out why customers leave and don't come back. Many watch for Ramsay's abrasive personality and bleepable language. I watch because I'm amazed that someone who owns a restaurant can be that oblivious to what's going on under their own noses.
The chef helps them with food and marketing and decor but just in case any failing restaurant owner stumbles across this blog and they can't get on the busy chef's to do list...allow me to save you some trouble. IT'S THE FOOD! IT'S ALWAYS THE FOOD!
The one that really had me laughing recently was a restaurant in a nearby neighborhood that made Italian food and thought it might be the decor or... something else... but surely not the food. But it was...it's wasn't fresh, and the chef / owner didn't care.
And as a case in point, I offer up one of the most amazing restaurants in the same neighborhood: Casa Bianca is less than a mile from the restaurant that was failing on the show. The decor looks much like I'm certain it did in the 1950's when the place opened. It's not fancy. But there is a line down the block to get in. I often try to get there by 4:30 when they open to not have to wait. But if I don't, I really don't mind because I know a little slice of heaven awaits!
Their lasagne is a religious experience! It melts in your mouth! It's so fresh and the sauce is so perfect and the cheese... oh the cheese! The Caprese salad with the reduced balsamic over the freshest mozzarella and tomatoes and basil is breathtaking. And Casa Bianca is one of only two restaurants the understand the amazing flavor of green olives and pepperoni on a pizza!
I don't go for the decor... I go for amazing fresh food!
And just like some the incredible hole in the wall restaurants I grew up going to... look for a line or a full parking lot! Heck I've eaten as some dives where I wonder if the building is going to fall in the bayou any minute.... but the food is always fresh and good!
So if your restaurant is failing... taste your food. Then go around the block to your closest competitor that's doing well and eat there. Surely, you'll notice the difference. If not, do us all a favor and sell your place to someone who cares!