Restaurant Ownership: The Longest Standing Business Venture
Restaurants haven’t always had the amenities we enjoy today, but throughout human history, there is one thing that binds us all together. Long before all the table trivia games, online ordering systems, and even shift scheduling software, humans of all eras were drawn to communal eating experiences that they wouldn’t have to prepare themselves.
The word “thermopolium” is probably not one you’re familiar with nowadays, but in today’s modern world, it’s impossible to walk several blocks without running into one. Today we just call them by their name: McDonald’s, Subway, Chili’s, and so many more “restaurants” that are available for us to eat somewhere other than our own home. Who want’s to dirty their kitchen if they don’t have to anyway?
People have wanted to keep their own kitchens clean by eating out since as far as ancient Roman times. A thermopolium was to ancient Roman’s what Burger King (with alcohol) is to American’s today. The word thermopolium literally is translated to “a place where (something) hot is sold”. Citizens of Rome would walk to their local thermopolium and eat cheese laced with honey and spices. They would also be able to order lentil soups and mulled wine.
Rather than dealing with the fuss that modern day waiters deal with, it is believed that these ancient places did not have menus. Instead, the customers ate whatever the cook had made that day. History also shows that lower class Roman citizens mostly used these fast food options because they didn’t have access to their own private kitchens, and so thermopolia were also known as places where customers could get a little feisty.
A little closer to today’s modern restaurants were the eateries in China circa 1123. Marco Polo wrote about his visit to the city of Hangzhou; home to more than a million people in Eastern China. Unlike the thermopolia in Rome, customers in China were given a menu to order from. Marco Polo wrote of delicacies like silkworm pie, bean curd soup, and pork stuffed dumplings. In the city, Marco Polo talked of many shops and street vendors. The streets lined with many taverns, teashops, rice wine vendors, and tents with chefs and business owners.
The world has probably never been without individuals looking to get out of cleaning their own kitchens. As a restaurant owner, you can always take heart in the fact that you’re part of a long line of hard working individuals in the history of restaurant ownership. And even in the modern age of meals in a box, customers still love a delicious warm meal in a sit down restaurant. Who knows? Perhaps restaurant ownership is one of the longest standing entrepreneurial business ventures of all time. And forcing customers to eat whatever the cook prepared is probably one of the least talked about innovations that the Romans created.
Turning Your Restaurant into the “Spot
You know you’ve watched Friend’s and wished you were sitting on that vintage couch, drinking coffee with the gang at Central Perk. And why wouldn’t you wish that? The Friends gang found their perfect spot: a table (with a reserved sign, if you never noticed) surrounded by comfy seating, enjoyable atmosphere, and a great menu. But have you ever wondered why they chose Central Perk as their favorite hangout? Sure, maybe it was because Rachel worked there, or because they lived upstairs.
But it also brings up some basic principles of being a great restaurant. Becoming a favorite spot isn’t as difficult as you might think. Some basic etiquette can quickly turn your restaurant into your guest’s favorite go to spot.
Invite Your Guest
Your restaurant is more than a restaurant; it’s the place people want to go when they aren’t at work, catch up with their best friends, or take their significant other out for a date. Your staff members are the gatekeepers of your doors, and everyone enjoys a friendly gatekeeper. Simply existing as a restaurant isn’t enough to become a favorite spot. Be an inviting restaurant. Smiles, greeting at the front door, and friendly service are all ways you can be inviting. Invite your guests to come, invite them to stay, and invite them to come again.
Remember Your Guest
Did your guest return? Remember them! Starting conversations and asking questions helps your guest feel welcome. And if you remember their answers, you’re winning at guest relations. Simple questions can help you in making your restaurant their favorite spot.
Some starting questions could be: Do they have a favorite table? What’s their favorite item on the menu? Do they have a favorite staff member that gives them great service?
Asking these types of questions (and remembering their answers) will help you tailor a perfect setting for your guest. Remember your guests and they will return!
Serve Your Guest
You’ve succeeded in making your guest feel invited, you’ve remembered their favorite table, now give them service that will make them want to return again and again.
Thankfully, unlike Central Perk, you own a business in the 21st century; there are so many digital options at your fingertips to help your service run smooth.
Using What Time Do I Work for your employee scheduling will ease your mind and give you more time to spend on the floor with your guests. It might even help avoid conflict with employees, which leads to happy employees and even happier clients.
OpenTable is a great option for your guests to let you know when they’re coming to visit, and to save their favorite table. Using digital technology in your restaurant gives you more control of your floor.
Your guests will become staples in your seats because they know what to expect when they visit: genuine and enjoyable service. Smiles at the door, their preferred table in the corner, their favorite server remembering their usual drink order, and it’s all uphill from there. Congratulations. You’ve just been chosen as your guest’s favorite “spot”.
Strive to give your guests dependable and enjoyable service that will make them love your restaurant and want to continue to return. Working closely with your staff members will ensure that your goals will be met.
Also, if you didn’t already know, Rachel wished Central Perk had used What Time Do I Work for their scheduling needs. It might evan have allowed her to spend more of her time focused on fixing her dating life!
Good luck helping your guests make the right choice to choose you as their favorite spot! Let us know how you make your restaurant your guests favorite go to spot.
Trend of the Month: April 2014
01 Apr, 2014 | Tags: bar scheduling software, bar staff scheduling, bar technology, Employee Schedule, Food Service Industry, Food Service Industry technology, online employee scheduling software, restaurant scheduling, restaurant scheduling software, restaurant staff scheduling, restaurant technology
Customer Facing Technology growing in popularity within the Food Service Industry
According to an October 2013 study by the National Restaurant Association, we are seeing the growth of consumers’ acceptance and use of customer facing technology within the Food Service Industry. According to the study 63% adults use restaurant-related technology to order, make reservations and pay their bill via smart phones. Some restaurants and bars are now going one step further to offer quests tech gadgets at the table to enhance their experience. Chili’s National Restaurant recently ran a 5 month test with table technology for guests to order, pay and play $0.99 games while they wait. The results — 20% increase in sales.
We have already seen some basic recent new technologies for purchasing with credit cards in small businesses. This trend will quickly trickle down to restaurants.
Forecasters from Forbes have put together a list of technologies that they expect to see gaining popularity in restaurants:
- Touchscreen kiosks for placing & customizing orders
- Mobile ordering applications
- Tabletop tablets for ordering and paying
- Digital games and entertainment at the table
- Mobile apps rewarding customers for loyalty and increasing social media interactions
- Mobile-pay apps to pay from a smart phone or tablet
- Mobile apps for loyalty/reward programs
- Apps for virtual giving and donations – allowing a portion of the guests bill to be donated to charity
As technology based applications quickly become the norm in providing a high level of customer experience in restaurants, we will also see an increase in technology to advance the behind the scenes aspects of your restaurants and bars. There are many options for scheduling employees that offer different benefits, however unless you are using What Time Do I Work.com online scheduling software, you are wasting time and money. What Time Do I Work.com online scheduling software simplifies the scheduling process by storing employee availability, preferences, skills and contact information in the program for easy access when creating schedules. Additionally the software offers real-time labor calculations, automatic overtime and conflict alerts, as well as communication features allowing your employees to own their schedules.