Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Need for differentiation:

NY Times reports that Bennigan’s shuttered it company owned location

“All these bar and grill concepts are very, very similar,” said Bob Goldin, executive vice president of Technomic, a restaurant industry consulting group. “They have the same kind of menu, décor, appeal,” which makes it more difficult to establish brand loyalty among customers.

There are a lot of great locations available for companies with vision and differentiation.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Reservation line is busy, please call again

Robert Cialdini, Noah Goldstein and Steve Martin have written Yes! One of the strategies that they discuss is “if the line is busy, please call again”, tagline in your advertising. What that signals to a potential customer is that you are so busy that even in this day of multiple lines there is a possibility that the phone call will result in a busy signal. If other people are trying to get through to make a reservation that is “Social Proof” that it is a good idea to dine at your restaurant.

It does matter:

Mike Neiss’ post highlights restaurateurs squeezing costs:

a restaurant I frequent that earned a deserved reputation for its wine list was out of several popular reds. The manager's directive to the employees? "It doesn't matter, they [customers] will just order something else." My note: It does matter, and maybe they will order their wine somewhere else.

This follows trying to cut out the throwaways. Yes it requires nerves, ambition and courage, Fear Not!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


A Knowledge @ Wharton article addresses taking perks away from employees.

The current economic slump could trigger another round of 'de-perking'. "Boards were pushing back on some of these perks because they thought they didn't look good," says Wharton management professor Peter Cappelli. "But I think that passed, and now the issue is whether these practices are important in recruiting and retaining people. If the economy softens, there will be push back again. We did see that when the economy softened in 2001."

The article cautions against taking perks away from employees. Restaurateurs are notorious for wanting to reduce the employee meal allowance during lean times. How you present the situation will affect the response from your staff.

The article dealt with employees, however restaurants are also taking perks away from customers in a misguided effort to ride out the economic storm. Be very careful, customers have even less appreciation for de-perking.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Juicing the Loyalty Card:

Robert Cialdini, Noah Goldstein and Steve Martin have written Yes! One of the strategies that they discuss is the loyalty card program:

Chapter 40:

“If you provide a loyalty card that requires 8 car wash purchases for a free wash, the results is vastly improved if you offer a 10 stamp card with two stamps already punched as opposed to an 8 stamp card with no stamps. The closer the customer is to completing a goal the more effort they will exert to achieve that goal”.

The strategy will work with coffee, entrées or desserts. Go ahead juice the card.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Irrational Anchors:

Roger Dooley’s post discusses anchors that are irrational, which actually is all anchors. The post quotes from Predictably Irrational, the sensational new book by Dan Ariely.

“In its early years, how did Starbucks manage to thrive despite having prices that must have seemed at odds with the expectations of most consumers?

First, Starbucks did its best to disassociate itself from existing price anchors by redefining the product. The stores offered a different ambiance, they were permeated by an intense coffee aroma, the food items offered in glass display cases were high-end pastry items, and so on. Even the products themselves were distinct from other coffee vendors: the sizes weren’t small, medium, and large, but rather tall, grande, and venti. You weren’t buying a cup of coffee, you were buying a Caffè Misto or a Frappucino. All of this served to weaken the tie to anchor pricing formed at other shops.

Second, according to Ariely, repeated visits to Starbucks served to establish a NEW anchor price for high-end coffee products. Each purchase of $4 coffee strengthened that new anchor point.

Can marketers take advantage of irrational anchor pricing? Would asking customers to think of a number between 90 and 99 while standing in line at a fast food restaurant make them willing to pay more for a burger? Should stores hang posters of big numbers by the checkouts? While Ariely’s work suggests that this kind of irrational anchoring effect could exist, I wouldn’t recommend building a marketing strategy around such techniques.

Menu prices are a very subjective interpretation of irrational anchors.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

More Storytelling:

Idris Mootee’s post about political brands is enlightening: Forget about the politics and look only at the products or service you’re being marketed. Clearly one brand exudes hope, the other adds to the malaise. Understand that your business tells a story, is it the story you think you’re telling?

Is the media biased? Yes. But why? Because the Obama brand has stories for us, it has dreams to share and words that give us hope. Wondering how everything can go so wrong in American and how to get out this mess. Given the beating of the image of America during the last five years, getting back to "trustable and hopeful" is a long uphill climb, bit not am impossible one.

As for the McCain brand, it is as boring as a Warmart store but offer less value than the retailers do. His straight-talking, grand-pa-can-do-it do persona are not helping and translate into "arrogance" by many and that’s exactly the kind of brand attributes America doesn’t want for his brand. Some see this as Bush extension brand. So what would you pick?

What brand is your restaurant?


Garr Reynolds’ post on Storytelling is worth the read: Your business needs to tell a story. The story you tell helps to connect with your customers. A successful business requires a connection with customers at a granular level.

At it's core, story is about a "...fundamental conflict between subjective expectation and cruel reality," says McKee. Story is about an imbalance and opposing forces (a problem that must be worked out, etc.). A good storyteller describes what it's like to deal with these opposing forces "...calling on the protagonist to dig deeper, work with scarce resources, make difficult decisions...and ultimately discover the truth."…

…What makes life interesting is "the dark side" and the struggle to overcome the negatives — struggling against the negative powers is what forces us to live more deeply, says McKee. Overcoming the negative powers is interesting, engaging, and memorable. Stories like this are more convincing.

What story are you telling?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Shake, Rattle, pick a restaurant:

Frank Bruni’s article details the new Urbanspoon app for your iPhone:

“It was a laggard, an afterthought, and thus revealed the foibles and limitations of the Internet dining guides to which more and more of us are turning for help.

On Saturday night, the day after the iPhone 3G came out, I recruited a friend who had purchased one to join me in an experiment. For more than four hours we bopped around the city, asking Urbanspoon to suggest somewhere good to eat.

The iPhone 3G possesses sophisticated G.P.S. technology, and Urbanspoon, a Seattle-based company that was founded two years ago, has a special version of its regular search engine that takes advantage of that technology. It identifies the 200 or so restaurants in its database nearest to where you are. Then it tells you which are your best bets.”

More and more of these types of apps are on the way. Your restaurant is becoming more accessible and more invisible all the time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Menu pricing 101:

Nathan at Restaurant Revolution explains menu pricing;

“The truth is, hitting a budgeted food cost does nothing to guarantee there will be enough money left over from the sale to pay for things like labor, rent, insurance, linens, smallwares, uniforms, utilities, taxes, etc, etc, etc.

Hitting that cost percentage really means nothing.

Further, not hitting it only means, “I should give things a closer look.” It doesn’t mean there is a problem. On the contrary, a high food cost could mean you’ve been selling a lot of high cost items that contribute more gross profit per sale. Are you going to make more money selling 50 hamburgers priced at $6 that cost $1.50, or 50 lobsters priced at $30 that cost $15?

As long as there isn’t a significant increase in the overhead of serving the lobster, gross profit dollars win every time. You don’t want to sell the item with the 25% cost and $4.50 gross profit, you want to sell the item with the 50% cost and the $15 gross profit”.

Customer, serve thyself!


“Waiting to order at a quick-service restaurant ranked among consumers’ top five “waits we hate most” in a 2007 survey by global technology provider NCR Corp. According to the company’s Service Consumer Survey, 97 percent of Americans are ready to turn to self-service technology—in the form of text messaging, the Internet, and kiosks—to speed up their transactions.

Eighty-six percent noted that they are more likely to do business with a company that offers the flexibility to interact using self-service, an increase of 11 percent over the year before. Sixty-six percent said that the availability of self-service technologies creates a more positive perception of a brand.”

The question is not “should I adapt the new technology?”, the question is “when and how do I implement?”. I am so 20th century, I still use email (how quaint), my nieces and nephews no longer uses such antiquated technologies. Text messaging is prime source of communication in the 21st century. Does your restaurant accepts text messages for orders or are you using 19th century technology (faxes)?

Farms in the Sky?

There is an interesting twist to buying local produce. A NY Times article outlines farm buildings in metro areas:

What if “eating local” in Shanghai or New York meant getting your fresh produce from five blocks away? And what if skyscrapers grew off the grid, as verdant, self-sustaining towers where city slickers cultivated their own food?

I think there might be a couple of olfactory issues that need to be worked out, however an interesting concept wouldn’t you say?

Monday, July 14, 2008

“Fear Not” yet again:

“an unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates

When you take a moment to examine people’s lives, you come to the inexplicable conclusion that the most successful are the ones who make the most mistakes and are continually embarrassed in public. There are many intelligent, sophisticated, urbane, erudite, educated individuals who somehow never realize their potential because they are afraid of public embarrassment. That fear far overrides their willingness to attempt, “it is not worth the risk” they rationalize.

In Larry Wilson’s book “Play To Win”, the “Playing not to lose strategy” is given the following treatment.

“Avoid all potentially embarrassing situations or situations where you might lose emotional control. Don’t try new things (at least in public) because you might look foolish and be “embarrassed to death.” Always practice new dances at home, in a closet, in the dark where no one can see you. It is better to be an expert than a learner – learners are always trying new things and making mistakes.”

In study after study asking individuals in their later years what they would have done differently, the answer invariably is that they would look at the “big picture” and “taken a few more risks”. No one ever says I took too many risks. Possibly that is because those who took the risks are dead and not available for the survey. After all traits are adaptive, those who run to fight another day outlast those who stay and fight. I think it was Mussolini who said “better to live one day as a lion than one hundred years as a lamb”

I have two recommendations today, 1) read “Play To Win”, 2) Fear Not”

Can it get much worse?

Bruce Horvitz’s USA Today article outlines Starbucks hope to sell smoothies:

“It may be tough to sell a $4 cup o' joe in a sour economy, but Starbucks (and other fast-food kingpins) are betting big this summer that folks will willingly fork out nearly that much for healthy-sounding fruit smoothies.”

Smoothies have been a daypart since the mid 90’s, Starbucks used to create or lead the category, now their scurrying behind. Smoothies are loaded with sugar, and all the latest medical studies are calling for a reduction in consumption of juices and pushing actual fresh fruit .

Wet-finger-in-the-air Estimates:

Dileep Rao’s post offers insight into the often mysterious world of venture financing.

“Wet-finger-in-the-air estimates don't cut it, either. Financiers like to know specifically where their cash will go: fixed assets (such as equipment and real estate), current assets (like inventory and accounts receivable), operating expenses and the like. Understand, too, that it's much easier to raise money for tangible fixed assets (which can be sold off in the event of default) than for more ephemeral things like marketing campaigns.

How do you determine what you need? First, calculate sales projections (for more on this, see "How Great Is Your Company's Potential?"). Then use industry databases to determine the level of assets needed to achieve those projections (check Dun & Bradstreet, RMA, financial Web sites and trade associations).

Next, deduct from those assets your cash savings, cash flow generated by the business, accounts payable (essentially, money you are borrowing from suppliers) and any relevant accruals in the normal course of business. What remains, roughly, is the amount you need to finance.”

A short quick lesson on a very highly charged and emotional facet of the restaurant business

Friday, July 11, 2008

Perpetual Motion v. Effectiveness:

“If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top . . . that comes along makes a fortuitous life preserver, but this is not to say that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top. I think that we are clinging to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday’s fortuitous contrivings.” Buckminster Fuller

Have you ever walked into a restaurant and noticed one individual scurry around like a ball of pent up inexhaustible energy? That person is usually the entrepreneur, the proprietor, the chief cook and bottle washer. The question I am posing today is “does that nervous energy benefit or hinder the business?”

Perpetual motion does not always equal effectiveness. I fully realize that some people just “need” to keep moving. They are the same who feel sleep is a loss of the perishable asset time. Does all that movement translate into effectiveness? The contention that I am making in this discussion is that perpetual motion hinders big picture thinking. Without the panoramic view of processes one tends to continually put out fires rather than determine how best to avoid the fire. The goal should be to do as much as possible and no more. Brian Tracy calls this the Military Principle of Objective:” where you bring to bear of the resources necessary to accomplish an objective and no more”.

Brian also encourages movement:

“When you become an action-oriented person, you activate the "Momentum Principle" of success. This principle says that although it may take tremendous amounts of energy to overcome inertia and get going initially, it then takes far less energy to keep going.

Increase Your Energy
The good news is that the faster you move, the more energy you have. The faster you move, the more you get done and the more effective you feel. The faster you move, the more experience you get and the more you learn. The faster you move, the more competent and capable you become at your work.”

However the movement Brian describes is different from the boundless energy of just being busy.

Successful individuals accomplish much because they have boundless energy directed at the most productive functions. Effectiveness trumps perpetual motion every time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Venti No More:

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be."~Voltaire

In the classic man bites dog tradition, Monica Eng’s article in the Chicago Tribune chronicles Intelligentsia’s decision to discontinue the 20oz. (Venti) cup of coffee:

"Drinking our coffee is not like drinking jug wine," said Intelligentsia Coffee founder and Chief Executive Doug Zell on Tuesday. "We're focused on intensity of flavors and providing coffee in the way it tastes best. And it's not in that size." Zell claims that the large size "throws off the proportions of the beverage" in espresso drinks and you end up with "a watered-down, Big Gulpish version." Regarding drip coffee, he asks: "Do you really need 20 ounces of drip coffee?"

Bravo Doug!

Deciding Once:

Michael Cooch’s post about decision making is valuable:

By “deciding once” I mean to do all of your homework, weigh the risks and alternatives, get yourself to the point of making a decision - and then decide to decide once. Once you’ve made your decision, resolve to no longer let your mind scramble on whether you made the right decision or not - just move forward with all of your energy and 100% commitment. So much time and energy is wasted on reconsidering your decisions after you’ve made them; you are better off just deciding once and being done with it.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you foolishly go in one direction forever just because you decided to many years ago. You should set some sort of time frame and milestones that make sense to base an evaluation on (13 months?), and then commit like hell until you reach your evaluation point and then make another decision…once!

Nothing you will ever do is totally perfect. There is always doubt, confusion, ambivalence and second guessing. Let all those thoughts flow by you. Once you make a decision, live with it for a while, thirteen months is a good a number.

Decide Once!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Connecting Dots:

Jeff Pulver reminds us to start connecting the dots.

“Only those of you who are aware of these dots can take advantage of them. The experience which comes from connecting these dots is nothing short of amazing. A world of opportunity awaits those who understand how to connect the dots in their lives.”

Restaurants offer more connecting the dots opportunity than any other industry. Restaurateurs have an abundance of kindle for matchmaking that goes unused. Instead of fretting about lower traffic counts, declining margins, and higher costs perhaps you need to focus on connecting the dots.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Drip by Drip:

Tom Mullaney’s article in the Chicago Tribune chronicles his disenchantment with Starbucks’ experience. He even works in a mention of my favorite concept Caffe Baci.

"I've pondered why my dissatisfaction is now shared by so many other once intensely loyal customers. For the first dozen years, Starbucks was a destination stop. It had enormous cachet and street cred. It became the new place for business meetings and the preferred rendezvous for date auditions. Today, Starbucks and hip live on different planets

It is ok to expand beyond your core, it is ok to test, measure and implement, it is ok to introduce products and services that are good enough. It is not ok to dilute your brand.


Brad’s post at Feld Thoughts offers a great primer on raising funds. There is always money out there for the right idea and the people with the passion to execute it.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The other Business Lesson of the Fourth: Show Up:

"80 percent of success is just showing up" —Woody Allen

The colonists who gathered to draft and execute the Declaration of Independence, commission the Army, and choose George Washington, at that time an untested, unproven general, Showed Up.

Go ahead Show Up

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Business Lesson of the Fourth

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

Thomas Jefferson may have authored the Declaration of Independence, however John Hancock was the first signer. Had the minor colonial insurrection not succeeded , John Hancock would surely have hanged from a British rope.

The Business Lesson of the Fourth is never do anything unless you are prepared to pledge your Lives, Fortunes and your Sacred Honor. Nothing else is worth doing.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Fourth of July

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

John Hancock

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Power of Because:

The word "because" has incredible persuasive properties. Ask someone to perform a function outright and the response rate is dismal. Ask someone to perform a function and add a “because”, the response rate skyrockets to 93% compliance.

Next time you need affirmation from someone add a “because”.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


There are many online patron review sites, one is featured in the Sarah Duxbury’s post.

"Do we live in fear of every Yelp listing? No," said Biederbeck, who is not a Yelp sponsor. "Do we pay attention? Yes."

Zagat, AAA and others allow patrons to share their experiences. This can be the Dark Side of Web 2.0. The only countermeasure of value is to engage critics in open conversation online. Andy Sernovitz’s advocates this method above all else. Starting a genuine conversation online helps to mitigate and in many cases turns a negative into a positive. We are not talking appeasement here, we’re discussing open dialogue.

Bikini-clad babes:

Roger Dooley’s post on Bikini’s and buying offers insight on how and when to use sex to sell your wares;

In short, for products where bikini-clad babes represent an appropriate marketing strategy (I’ll let you be the judge of what those product categories are!), the place to put them is at the point of sale. I’d use them in ads more distant from the point of purchase, like television commercials or print ads, only if they are an integral and long-running element of the brand strategy (e.g., Hooters restaurants).

P.S. (this post has received more visits by far than any other)

The Law of Value:

Pamela Slim’s post reviews The Go-Giver, the following are a couple of laws at the core of any successful undertaking;

· The Law of Value
Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment

· The Law of Compensation
Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them

A higher level of scrutiny:

Chicago Tribune article chronicles Starbucks’ finances:

The Seattle-based company said Tuesday that the store closings, coupled with a scaled-back expansion plan for its next fiscal year, will help the specialty coffee giant meet its longer-term targets for profitability. While Chief Financial Officer Pete Bocian said in a conference call, "We believe absolutely we're seeing a major impact from the economy," he also acknowledged that Starbucks' aggressive growth strategy of recent years created problems with cannibalized sales and market saturation.

Looking ahead, management will use a "much higher level of scrutiny on store performance to make sure we take action earlier," Bocian said.

Everyone has been brushed by wind of irrational exuberance. Lesson learned.

The Open for Lunch Dilemma:

Fine Dining restaurants often grapple with the Open for Lunch dilemma because instinctively one can make the assumption that there is an underused asset wasting away. Most who venture from dinner only service into the open for lunch arena discover to their economic chagrin that there is not enough traffic to justify being open. The additional labor cost of a full shift necessary to implement a partial or full menu is rarely recouped. The caveat of course is that if one has significant private dining events to justify a staff at lunch time, then being open for lunch is adjunct. The addition of wait staff is incrementally justified if the kitchen staff is already present and working on prepping and executing a private lunch event.

The basic problem is that most restaurateurs who first try the open for lunch mantra attempt to utilize existing staff in a staggered schedule format, adding only minimal additional staffers. This strategy has the effect of stressing out all the staff as they will be called upon to stretch well beyond physical limits in an ill-fated attempt to minimize cost. Lunch at best represents 10-15% of dinner revenue and too often utilizes precious resources in fashion that is not optimal.

The best alternative for the dilemma is to open earlier for dinner, perhaps 3pm. This affords those who seek a late lunch and those who seek an early dinner the opportunity to sample your offerings.

Alternate energy source:

The high cost of energy got you down bunky? Walk it off! Guy Kawasaki post offers a cool stuff idea for alternate sources of electricity;

Eco-nightclub. An eco-nightclub opened in London near King's Cross. It contains a dance floor that converts the up and down motion of dancers to electricity. The process is called piezoelectricity, and it's the same concept that make toddler's shoes flash when they run.