You have a prime location, a beautiful dining room, a delicious menu and stellar staff. But your work's not done. In fact, it's never done. Owning and running a successful restaurant means constant evolution. Here are four ways to stay on top of this challenging and potentially hugely rewarding game.
Know your vision.
The most confident and successful people know themselves. The same is true for restaurants. If comfort food is your claim to fame, a tricked-out dish that relies on the techniques of so-called molecular gastronomy will feel out of place on your menu.
This applies to service, decor and every small detail of your business. Making your vision crystal clear to your employees and guests will give you invaluable strength.
Change the menu.
All businesses rely on regulars; the restaurant biz is no exception. Even a risk-averse diner will tire of eating the same crab cake dish every weekend.
Keep your diners, and your employees, interested by changing up your offerings constantly. The best way to do this is by making use of what ingredients are in season right now. An added bonus is that these ingredients are often the tastiest and cheapest.
Improve every day.
There are thousands of details involved in running a restaurant, and therefore thousands of opportunities to make things better. As soon as you stagnate, you are in trouble.
If you just need to get through service—fold the napkins, sear the steaks, get the food out—you are in trouble. How can you make the service better? How can your staff become more educated? How can you procure much higher quality tuna? How can you be better than you were last night?
Give amazing service.
It's difficult to pull off impeccable service. Give great service and your customers will notice and come back for more. Treat every person who walks in the door with warmth and respect, and train your staff to do the same. Go out of your way to make your guests happy.
Hannah Howard is the manager at M Restaurant at the Morris House Hotel in Philadelphia. She has written about restaurants and hospitality for Serious Eats and Grub Street and has contributed to the New York Times.