I read your Editor's Space article every time I get the magazine. You can't be more correct with your February editorial, Cursed Location? There's No Curse. We are a living example of this. We've been in one location for 16 years. When our landlord did not renew our lease we knew something was up. Not wanting to move too far from our regular clientele and location, we found a larger location one mile away in a better area. It was a restaurant that in 12 years had over 15 owners. Everyone said “That place is cursed,” “Your great name will go down with this location after one year,” or “Do not go there!”
Being the leader in kosher restaurants and caterers in Los Angeles for over two decades, we know what we are doing, we have had a great following for all these years, so we did not hesitate to sign a long lease with our landlord. Yes, it took time to bring in a local lunch crowd that can walk here from their offices, but our dinner crowed followed. Not only did they follow, but we were introduced to a higher-end clientele since we are now in Beverly Hills. Despite a larger place (yes, higher rent), we had faith in our food and style. Even with a slow economy, our business reached the same numbers within five to six months. By the end of the year, we increased our gross sales by 30-40 percent. Yup, in the cursed place.
Just like you said, the location was not cursed. When we arrived we found a once-burgundy carpet blackened from grease. The place smelled of spoiled food and there were greasy fingerprints on the walls. The bar offered only three kinds of wine and no liquor. Waiters were dirty and did not speak English.
After we arrived, the building manager told us he was happy to finally be able to sit and have lunch with clients and be proud of what's in his building. So there is no curse or dark cloud or magic spell. The curse is the bad owners or managers who run these kind of places. They think they can just open, hire three guys to run the kitchen and come back only to collect money. This business has to be in your heart and you have to be passionate about it, but it's a business and you need to know when to work from your brain as well.
President La Gondola Restaurant & Catering
Your January Editor's Space article, Cutting Labor Costs and Losing Money, really hit home for me. You're right, it's sometimes hard to predict business. And as a restaurant manager I know this all too well. I am presently working in a wonderful vacation resort hotel and managing a restaurant that had been poorly staffed in the past. As a result, business suffered dramatically. So I brought my usual M.O. into play when I started managing this restaurant. It's pretty basic but if applied with a watchful eye, it can't miss. I encourage my staff to prepare every night as though it is a Saturday night. “Stock for Success,” I say. We can always use tomorrow night what we don't use tonight. And with this in mind it makes for a smoother night and prevents a lot of restocking in the middle of the rush.
The same concept goes for staffing the front of the house. Of course I don't staff a Tuesday like a Saturday, but I do staff enough to handle the restaurant if it were full. If it turns out to be a dead night then I start phasing employees off the clock. This way I am in control of the flow and not the unknown quantity coming through the door. Yes it can jack the labor cost up, but the goal is to never let a guest leave unhappy. Hopefully this will create a consistent reputation for the restaurant and before you know it your Tuesdays will look like a Saturday. But remember, reputation repair takes time. Thank you for your great topics. They are a joy to read.
Food and Beverage Manager
Inn at Spanish Head
Lincoln City, OR