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Help restaurants succeed by obeying the Golden Rule

A Bloomberg study found that eight out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months.

Richard Feloni writes in his article "Food Network Chef Robert Irvine Shares the Top 5 Reasons Restaurants Fail" on www.businessinsider.com, "According to a frequently cited study by Ohio State University on failed restaurants, 60 percent do not make it past the first year, and 80 percent go under in five years."

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Starting any business is a risky proposition for sure, but opening a new restaurant is a huge risk in today's marketplace.

One reason for this high rate of failure is an inexperienced owner or management staff. A lot of folks think that because they like to cook, or have been a chef somewhere else, they can open a restaurant and use the experience of being a chef to run it successfully. However, this is very often not the case. Running a successful restaurant takes more than cooking ability. It takes management experience, knowledge of cash flow and, above all, business sense.

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People expect, if not demand, impeccable customer service at both their health care providers and the restaurants they choose to frequent. If you aren't providing outstanding customer service in a restaurant, you are doomed. This means having the right number of people to supply outstanding service without overwhelming your payroll.

One of the other reasons is inadequate food quality. Let's face it: If you are paying good money for a meal, you expect it to be top quality. If you are going to the "finest" steakhouse and you receive a cut of meat that you wouldn't feed to your dog, that is not a good thing.

Not knowing your competition is also a reason why restaurants fail so frequently. If you open a restaurant, and four doors down the street there is another restaurant that serves similar cuisine and charges 20 percent less then you, you're going to have a problem.

Poor promotion is another issue. Yes, putting a sign up helps, but you really have to work at getting the word out in the community in which you're operating. In fact, social media is becoming more and more important than things like fliers, coupons and listings in the Yellow Pages.

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There are a lot of reasons that could have contributed to the recent closing of three restaurants in the Reisterstown, Owings Mills and Glyndon area — Miller's Deli, in Reisterstown, Don Pablo's Mexican Kitchen in Owings Mills, and Main Street Grille, in Reisterstown.

Regardless of the reasons these locations closed, I can only speculate that it was partially because the Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon community did not support them. Frequently on the Reisterstown group Facebook page, folks would complain about poor service or a bad dish. As a columnist who writes about restaurants and a foodie who is dedicated to ensuring that the Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon area thrives, I think it's wrong to go on a public forum to complain about poor service or poor food quality, without having first complained to the manager on duty or to the owners themselves.

I am a fussy eater; I have issues with food allergies and like things a certain way. Trust me, I have no problem calling the manager over and telling him or her that I requested my salad without peppers and it's full of green and red peppers. I like my steaks a perfect medium. When my steak comes out anything other than this I call someone over and send it back. I have left a restaurant unhappy with the attitude or service of the manager on duty and have written the owner a letter. Most of the time, they make things right. When they don't, then you have every right to complain on open public forums, but not until you have addressed the issue with the management staff at the restaurant.

It is OK to be displeased with your food or the service you are receiving at a restaurant, but those issues really need to be addressed at the time with the management staff, so that they can clear up the problem at once. It is very difficult for any business, especially a restaurant, to survive and thrive when it is constantly having negative comments being posted about it. Let's all remember the Golden Rule — treat others as you'd want to be treated. That includes restaurants and their staff.

Terry Chaney is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached via email at

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