I have always wanted to have my own restaurant so I was happy to accept when I was asked to help with restaurant marketing.
But before I started consulting restaurants, I decided to watch at least a hundred episodes of Kitchen Nightmares, where Gordon Ramsay visits restaurants on the verge of ruin and helps them improve in a week. I learned a lot from Ramsay which helped me in consulting restaurants in practice since Gordon is considered one of the best chefs with restaurants all over the world.
What is Ramsay’s advice for those who want to open a restaurant:
- Do a research on what other nearby restaurants offer before you set up your own.
- Go to the streets with your food and ask people what they think.
- Choose a butcher – put his name on the menu so that the guests know where the food comes from.
- Decide on a budget you can spend on the marketplace, e.g. 40 € for five lunches.
- Before you hire a cook, test him, have him cook for you – in his opinion the chef is the most important for the success of a restaurant.
- Consider a loyalty card and visit nearby businesses, and before the opening give them food for free, take your chef with you and have him present the menu, and invite everyone to your new restaurant.
The most common reasons for restaurants’ failing:
- an extensive menu
- inexperienced cooks,
- complicated dishes.
- owners don’t know how to hire the best staff.
- don’t forget events – while running a restaurant focus on events because they are a great way to attract more guests, e.g. food competitions, dance nights, auctions, etc.
What is the owner’s job according to Ramsay?
- To tell the employees clearly what you want, need and how much it means to you.
- To give them orders and control them, discipline is important.
- Your job includes a lot of leadership.
- Eat in your own restaurant so you can easily see what the guests think.
- Be kind to local population, because also in tourist locations the local population contribute up to 40 % of a restaurant’s income. Periodically do a research on what the local population think of the food in your restaurant.
- Always deposit the day’s earnings.
- Once a month invite your employees to a different venue and through a game show them what really matters to you.
- You have to know the worth of all foods you serve for how much you can sell it.
- Focus on celebrity marketing.
- Use the power of the internet (blogs and social media are very important) .
- Use secret guests (a guest coming in with a camera every once in a while).
Every restaurant needs people who will:
- Welcome the guests (this can be the owner)
- Check reservations, the kitchen etc. in the morning
- Take reservations (which are usually made for every two hours)
- Take care of decorations, cleaning and shopping (Ramsay advises you to regularly shop at a marketplace never in a supermarket)
What to expect from waiters?
- They must present the specialities.
- Communication between the kitchen and the service must be impeccable.
- They must taste the food before they start working.
- They must know how to offer food to guest, e.g. “May I suggest something fresh?” etc.
- It’s important that they walk elegantly and don’t use their phones.
- The waiters’ job is to present the menu, so they have to know the ingredients of every meal and where the ingredients come from.
- They should never take all orders at once so that they don’t overburden the cooks.
- They always have to smile.
- They should use previously agreed on acronyms, e.g. chicken is ch, fish is fh.
The job of the chef and his sous chef(s):
- Order slips which they receive from waiters should be put from left to right.
- The owner should bring ingredients from which the chef must create something – this is the first test.
- The chef’s pantry shows what the restaurant is really like (whether the food is fresh or not).
- They should fry in a pan rather than on a hotplate.
- When the chef gives the order everyone in the kitchen must say yes and communicate with each other.
- The chef must taste his food to keep up the standard.
- Every day the first order is key.
- The main dish must be prepared in 20 minutes and all the food for each guest must be prepared in 45 minutes (from starter to dessert).
- They have to enjoy their work, in the kitchen there has to be passion and love for preparing food.
The restaurant’s menu is also important:
- Before putting together a menu, let the staff taste it and give their opinions.
- Downsize the menu, start with simple dishes and add something local.
- The menu should contain 12 to 15 dishes at most (three starters, three main dishes, three desserts).
- Focus on two or three key dishes and know that simple food is better than complicated.
- Abandon fried food, microwave preparation and have only fresh ingredients (e.g. an Italian kitchen should offer fresh pasta)
In the end, I want mention that Ramsay also showed a few tricks which could be used in restaurants, e.g. preparing food in front of guests.