Let me say this upfront: If you see your restaurant or a restaurant you like being used here for illustrative purposes I am not picking on them. Together we’re in one of the toughest businesses out there so first and foremost, Restaurant Winners’ aim is to present itself as a friend fellow operators. I don’t care how fancy or pedestrian your concept is or what city you’re in, we deal with common challenges. Secondly, I will never critique anything without first acknowledging our own operational flaws and/or missteps. I can tell you at least three so let’s get that out of the way:
- We stand by 0ur menu but in retrospect should have condensed it a bit. Certain items in question don’t lose money per se but make purchasing inconvenient at times.
- Having an ice cream station along with hand-dipped shakes is notorious for bottlenecking FOH flow.
- While being in an older building saves multiple thousands on the front end, it comes with repair/replacement issues. Additionally we don’t own the real estate we occupy, something if feasible, I strongly suggest you do.
So there’s a start.
Today’s subject is marketing and curb appeal. The above photo is a personal pet peeve of mine. I disagree with any type of writing on your restaurant windows. Do not write on your windows. Let your beautiful windows hang clean, clear and devoid of any announcements in handwritten scrawl. I’m even on the fence about printed posters hanging in windows but please no writing. I don’t care if you’re offering free belly-dancing lessons at dinner, a folk band or DJ on Sunday afternoons, or an “all you can eat biscuits and gravy” night. Please stop this.
Windows let the sun shine in. They let your patrons look out into the neighborhood and at passerby. Windows give the people outside a peek inside. Understandably, they also reveal how empty the place may be but so what. The game is the game.
How can you get people in the door then?
Creating compelling signage and a logo for your brand telling the world who you are is the first step. Sheer curiosity will lure patrons initially. Next comes the hard work and that’s your service. Once people are inside let them discover the wonders and magic of your place and the deals on offer. Maybe they’ll return and bring friends next time. Now you’re on your way. Yelling at them from the street via graffiti doesn’t evoke much curiosity. In the beginning it may be slow, and inevitably business at some point gets slow but let your store stand tall and fearless. A tasteful A-frame sign on the sidewalk is simple, classic, and can be updated at a moments notice. If that’s not allowed, well, that’s too bad but don’t write on the windows.
You can market your restaurant hundreds of ways but keep the lines on the outside as clean as possible because in my mind and surely many others, I expect to spend more. Your appearance commands it. When I see paintings and watercolors and pretty little cartoons drawn on your windows I’m expecting to spend less. As it is with any restaurant a guest is either coming back or they aren’t so at least make the introduction go as much in your favor as possible.
I don’t like seeing Christmas trees, turkeys or bunny rabbit window clings either. Mainly because it reminds me of meet the teacher night at an elementary school. I picture myself sitting uncomfortably at the tiny desk of my ten year old once I’m inside your restaurant. Tastefully decorate the dining room with your holiday celebrations. Hey, it’s your place and you’re free to do as you please. We’ve talked about the fact there aren’t any “restaurant police,” one of the many things we enjoy so very much in this business. It just seems in this case less is always more.
- 1 t olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 T dry Vermouth
- 1 t red pepper flakes
- 2 t paprika
- 1lb fresh shrimp
- 1 T lemon juice
- 1/4 C parsley, chopped
- lemon wedges
Combine oil and garlic and saute until tender. Stir in Vermouth, pepper flakes and paprika. Add shrimp and turn to coat evenly. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Cover and heat until shrimp turn pink. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges. Serves 4.