I’ve only had a couple years of experience working in food service, but it is something that I really enjoy. Even in my free time, I like to watch television programs about food. One of my favorite shows is Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey where Ramsey helps failing restaurants relaunch.
I recently got the chance myself, to get involved in relaunching a restaurant. Before starting the relaunch, we took some time to consider who our main customers are. In this case, they are western tourists wanting to eat local food in a more comfortable setting. I wanted to be careful to maintain that “local feel” while improving the key elements of environment, food and customer service.
First of all, we tackled the environment. We cleaned it up, got rid of clutter and tried to give it a more welcoming feel. The restaurant owner is a great cook, but the menu was missing some of the best dishes she makes. We chose a few of her dishes as highlights to the menu and took off some of the less exciting options. Then, we designed and produced new menus that were easier to navigate.
The biggest challenge has been improving customer service. Our customers, being mostly western tourists, expect different service standards than normally provided here in local restaurants. This disparity in standards is what brings the most negative reviews. To close that gap we’ve come up with some minimum staffing requirements that should make huge improvements in service. Having the people we need to take care of our customers is a start, then we’ll start training them on how to provide good service.
The restaurant has a ways to go yet to reach the coveted #1 spot for restaurant reviews but it’s on the right path and continuing to improve.