I recently attended an industry event recognizing restaurants for their contributions to the community. It was a cool event and I was proud and lucky to be a part of it. At this event there were many chefs, winemakers, and brewers that I have known over the years.
One of those chefs, a former co-worker of mine, was one of the restaurants providing food for the occasion. He owns a couple of places in town and I asked him how things were going with his most recently opened establishment. “Fine now,” he replied.
Remove your ego
“When I first opened, I was doing what I wanted to do, not what the customers wanted.” “I paid the price.” I asked him exactly what he meant by that and he told me that basically he had to remove his ego from the equation, re-evaluate, and reinvent his menu.
Since then, his restaurant has experienced an influx of new business. What a great lesson for chef/owners! Just because you are a great chef, doesn’t mean that you are making food that people want, and that customers are going to flock to your restaurant.
It is always a marketing piece, isn’t it? You can’t just come up with a concept and plop it down wherever you feel like. It is important to look at the location, look at the demographics of that location, and start from there. Too many times chefs make the mistake of thinking that their food will transcend any barriers and just sell itself. Doesn’t work that way.
Kudos to him, for recognizing this, removing the ego, and starting over. I wish him the very best, with his ‘new’ place, and I hope other chefs can learn from this, and keep themselves from making the same mistake.
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I was in Calgary with my elderly mother at a ‘cool’ restaurant recently and she had a pulled pork sandwich. It was dripping all over the place and soaked the bun. Mom had to lean forward so it didn’t run down her shirt. The server came and asked how everything was and Mom suggested maybe they drain the meat a little before putting it in the bun because messy lunches could be a problem for people popping in to eat in business attire. The waitress looked at my mom with distain and said that the recipe was the chef’s and he was not about to change the way he plated his meals because he was so good at what he did. Prima donna! Our tip reflected the level of service.