What makes a restaurant successful ?

Opening a restaurant is the most common business idea which folks in major metros have but most don’t realise the nuts and bolts of how the restaurants work. Having attempted to open a restaurant or food delivery business I have been a close observer of the restaurant business and would like to explain one of the key components of what makes a successful restaurant.This article talks of one of the what makes a restaurant successful, so the basic assumption is that you have got the location, product and team solved. Despite having the right product and location most restaurants fail because they don’t understand what makes it work in the medium to long term, especially after the initial novelty factor wears off.  A successful restaurant is like a flywheel which starts of rolling slowly and steadily. Once it has started to roll and finds ground for the first 1-2 years there is no stopping the flywheel!

Consistency – A key ingredient of the flywheel

As you would imagine, most people do not visit a restaurant every day so for them to consider a revisit to the restaurant it has to meet certain quality standards. This means that the food has to be of exceptional quality but just exceptional quality is not enough to make a restaurant popular. The food experience has to be consistent for at least 2-3 times before the consumer decides that this is a place which they like to visit or recommend to friends. If one studies all the iconic restaurants in any city you will see that apart from great food they take a lot of pain to ensure that the food tastes the same every time!. This is a key ingredient in the flywheel. By making sure that the food tastes the exact same every time a customer visits we are able to build confidence in the mind of the user that the is indeed a good place and I can safely recommend it to friends. Imagine what a bad day in a restaurant does to its business. Would like to quote an anecdote of a very good Punjabi restaurant in central Bangalore, this restaurant was one of the best places for north Indian food and everyone in the team loved it. But one day we had a really bad experience of food getting delayed by over 1.5 hours hour and food not being good. Just that one bad experience that day made the restaurant lose business from our whole company!. In addition to people considering a visit to the restaurant the other things which the consistency helps is in word of mouth recommendation, even if one of your friends has not had a good experience due to inconsistent service he will surely discourage others from visiting the place.Getting consistency is a big challenge because of man-power turnover which is why most successful restaurants are run by owners who are deeply involved in operations. This is a key aspect most owners miss-out and hence their business does not work after the initial novelty wears off.They need to keep working for at least 2-3 years at the same level of service and quality without missing out one day of experience. Even 1-2 days o a bad experience can hurt the business.

What makes a restaurant iconic?

The good food and consistency help make a restaurant popular in the short run but what really makes an iconic restaurant. I am talking about Veena Stores(Malleswaram, Bangalore) MTR(near Lalbagh, Bangalore),  or any other iconic place which has been around for at least 2 decades in existence. These places have been able to gather such a large number of customers because of the word of mouth and the fact that people want to repeatedly visit the place. Imagine the famous Veena stores(which gets anywhere between 1500-2000 people daily) it has built this reputation over the last 20-25 years this means that more and more people remember the awesome experience. This means that over time a very large section of Bangalore have tasted the food there and they will want to visit the place every time they are near the store. They will pull in people who have not experienced Veena stores along with them, thus soon you will have a big portion of the city who have experienced the restaurant.They  will visit it when they are near the place or plan to visit the place. Thus consistency, great food quality over years is what makes an iconic restaurant. The consistent good quality compounds over time and then makes a restaurant flywheel unstoppable.

If you are wanting to build a restaurant then you have to have that passion and high standard to be able to deliver consistent food quality despite changing variables (like employee turnover, competition, vegetable prices).This is what builds the flywheel which will ensure that you will be able to grow the business to start marking profits after you reach a certain scale. Do rethink to check  if you are really so passionate about food if you want to get into the business. This is challenging on many aspects and is a long term game (like everything else in life).

PS: I will be able to happy to share my personal learnings with any of you who is contemplating to open a restaurant. Feel free to write to me at avinashmkb78(at)gmail.com.


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