The downside of running my own restaurant is that I can’t just focus on food. I have bills and employees to pay, investors to keep happy, and customers to get in the door. Eventually, I hope to be able to hire somebody to do a lot of the external stuff for me. An accountant, a marketing consultant, a manager. Somebody. I want to be in the kitchen and not in this office all day every day.
It’s not really an option at the moment. Financially, it is an expense I certainly can do without. And to be honest, right now, I also like the idea that I am in charge of everything. I set the menu (for the most part), hired and trained the staff before we opened our doors. So as long as they execute the plan, we should be OK and I have plenty of time to wear my boss hat as opposed to my chef hat. Opening night was pretty good, all things considered. More covers than I thought we would get, the kitchen staff did well, table turnover went well. We didn’t think we’d be the next hotspot but figured we would be OK.
Then a few weeks later and we’re at a Tuesday night and the place is kind of dead. That was disappointing and obviously, the staff looks to me to do something about it. I can’t just send them home all the time when we’re slow; they’ll stop coming back. I had to start thinking more about promotions and ads to get people in the restaurant. My sous chef is a big digital fan, so he checked yelp to see if we had any bad reviews or anything—we didn’t. No angry trolls or anything. So he kept digging, found a few other sites. Again, there wasn’t really anything there. Which was good in that there wasn’t a lot of bad stuff out there about us, but at the same time it meant there wasn’t a whole lot of good stuff out there, either. We had some press opening weekend but it had tapered off. It’s possible that someone with more restaurant experience would have figured this out earlier than me. I am much more comfortable breaking down a pig than sitting in front of a computer. I had my sous chef spice up our website a little and we bought some internet ads. I also did a radio commercial. We shot a cheesy youtube promo video too. Randomly in the middle one of my kitchen crew yelled, “Mention this ad and get a free app!” I thought at first it was odd. But he had a point. If someone mentions it—and we’ve had a few now—we know that at least someone was paying attention.
We’ve noticed things are picking up again. Not overwhelmingly so, but I am ok with that. Maybe we get a few more covers a night than we did the week prior. I’ll take that as long as we’re going in the right direction. I don’t need to be booked solid for months, but a steady flow every night we’re open would be great. Fingers crossed.