What Brings A Diner Back, Time After Time?
The author George Orwell once said, ‘The secret of a successful restaurant is sharp knives’ but in 2020, with all the challenges this year has thrown at the restaurant industry, it probably takes a little more than sharp knives to build a regular income. It’s commonly held that it takes around 5 years for a restaurant to make a sustainable profit, and even then, investors may have to wait longer to see anything like a sizeable return on their initial injection of cash.
Most entrepreneurs understand that time is of the essence when establishing and developing a clientele and reputation, moving fast to engage the local community and publicising the business through a range of different channels, but with so many restaurants failing well before their fifth anniversary, just what is it that will bring a diner back to a restaurant over and over again?
High up on the list is the atmosphere and ambience. A restaurant needs to know what kind of identity it wants, and what sort of experience, beyond just the food, a diner should enjoy. And the experience is created through attention to detail in every area of operation. From the way the front of house staff greets the public and subsequently treats them, through to the choices of lighting, music, artwork, decoration and tableware, each element needs co-ordination if the customer is to have ‘a night out’ rather than just a meal.
The skill of the restauranteur, rather than the chef, is to understand what the public wants, be flexible enough to change with the times, scale up or down depending on the location and economic situation and then deliver that vision to a price point that brings in enough of a profit to make it sustainable.
Naturally, the quality of experience offered by the food has to play a part. You may think that this should come further up the list; a restaurant is defined by its food, after all, but in many ways, some of the elements mentioned above can be even more vital in securing the financial success of a restaurant in those early years.
However, the food needs to be well presented and cooked, and, above all, done with a level of quality and skill that most diners couldn’t manage to replicate at home. Having that gastronomic experience that they can’t get anywhere else is what will keep a clientele coming back for more!
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