A lot of factors divide successful restaurants from those that don't last. While there is no easy answers, there are several things owners can do to give their businesses a competitive edge. Here are four tips for restaurant owners to keep their customers coming back for more.
1. Be Present.
While quantity has it benefits, quality will give you a connection with your customers, staff and community. I have several restaurants but not too many that my signature involvement in each is diluted. I have enough time to be involved in the daily operations of each restaurant, ensuring that they are a positive representation of my brand.
I check in with my staff and make a point to stop and chat with as many tables as possible as they enjoy their meal. Customers are there to see you, the chef, the owner, the creator, so it is important to make time to say hello. Small donations of your time show that you care and keeps customers coming back.
It's always important that your pricing is reasonable, while still maintaining quality. When pricing your menu, consider the local economy and lifestyle. In Los Angeles, a good goal is an average of a $40 ticket per person. Depending upon your location your pricing will vary.
3. Give Back to Your Community.
If you are able to, use local products. For one, you will guarantee much fresher ingredients if you buy from your local farmers market, fish market, etc. rather than purchasing from a major distributor who has to package and ship to you. I often bring in spices and vegetables from my own garden, not only does this cut costs but they are the freshest I can get! I garden in the morning and they are served that evening. More importantly, by utilizing your local markets and farmers, you are investing in and helping to improve your local economy.
While you want your restaurant to be a representation of you and your brand you also want to appeal to individuals of all types. One method is to create a few different "vibes" in one space. For example, I have an outdoor patio with have live music and fire pits that is rustic and hip. Inside there is a private wine room for guests who are looking for an intimate evening. Be creative with your space and don't be afraid to change things around. I did a complete renovation of Stefan's at LA Farm and it helped business significantly, because everyone wanted to come see the "new" restaurant.