Yesterday my family and I had lunch out – after church – and the experience made me think about some really great advice shared in one of our Restaurant Owners Uncorked videos. We arrived 15 minutes earlier than they opened (although the doors were open – so it appeared open) thinking they had a Sunday brunch that started at 9am. It was about 10:45am – and on this day – they opened at 11am for lunch. Well, the nice young woman (who was a server) greeted us warmly and told us they did not open for 15 more minutes. About that same time – the GM walked over and said “Hey guys – welcome! Please, grab a seat wherever you like and I’ll go into the kitchen and tell the crew that we are now open”. He said it with a smile as if to say “You know what, when you guys walked in, we opened”. For sure if they truly had not been ready – or if we had walked in 1 hour early – he would not have said that. So we sat down, ordered pretty quickly and were served right around 11am. Now I must add that we are about as low maintenance as a family gets and had no intention of getting there even just 1 minute before they opened expecting that they serve us before they were ready. That’s totally not our style. In fact – we felt bad for being confused about brunch and walking in early and were about to leave and wait a bit – which meant we would have likely done something else for lunch.
The point of this is that even though I know that server cares about the restaurant where she works and was just doing her job by telling us they were not open yet – she still was about to send us elsewhere. She was not empowered to make the decision to go ahead and seat us and gets things going a tad early…..but the GM was. The moral of this story is something that Jake Wolf talks about in his Restaurant Owner’s Uncorked video. He said “One of the main things that keeps restaurants going and having success is the presence of an owner or a manager or someone on staff who feels like it’s theirs…”. It’s so true and it’s such great advice – for any business. Someone has to always have the ball and be able to pivot when needed – almost as if it’s more than a job – but a livelihood. When you think about the best independent restaurants you’ve been too – they definitely serve great food – but they also have people consistently present that know how to run a great business too. In fact, the more owners we interview the clearer it is that the toughest part about the restaurant business – is that it is a business.
Here is the video again – it is so good!