Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Aug 5, 2012 08:37 AM

why bother?

There are restaurants I go to where I'm left with the thought, Why bother running a restaurant if you don't know what you're doing?! It being such a tough business, with so much competition, why would you set yourself up for failure by being badly understaffed and giving bad service, and/or putting out food that you MUST KNOW is not good? How long do you think you're going to get away with an inferior product?

I'm speaking somewhat rhetorically here. Just had a few clunkers recently that left me scratching my head...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Because you just know that there will be a great sale on whatever from Sysco next week. Then you can upscale your viands while protecting the bottom line. The problem is that next week never comes.

    And most people are happy with mediocrity. When was the last time you saw liver or kidneys as the special of the day?

    1 Reply

      "most people are happy with mediocrity. When was the last time you saw liver or kidneys as the special of the day?"

      I don't see the connection here.

    2. And many is the time I have wondered this also.
      I'm not sure on what board this should be on to get the attention it deserves

      1. Nobody starts any business with the thought that they are incompetent. They think they can do it and, if they have any experience in the field, feel they will not make the mistakes they saw their collegues or former boss make.

        There are a lot of moving parts in a restaurant and even if you can get the menu right and the venue right, you are at the mercy of vendors, and most of all peoples personalities. That includes staff and customers. And the show must go on no matter who didn't show up or what raw materials didn't show or were poor quality, or were screwed up in prep.

        Let's face it, there are crummy plumbers, electricians, dentists, investment counselors, owners and "chefs".

        10 Replies
        1. re: collardman

          I'm speaking mostly of places I go to in a pinch, for something quick near the office, near where I have an appointment, where the food is OK...but it's utter chaos every time! Short-tempered waitstaff, customers grousing, kitchen yelling at each other. I always shake my head figuratively, wondering if they'll ever get it right...

          1. re: sanglier

            Turnover is the biggest problem. With the increase in the number of restaurants comes competition to hire the best and brightest. Unfortunately there aren’t enough qualified people to go around. The employees treat ownership like they can get a job anywhere else. It’s like they’re doing you a favor by showing up. That’s why I decided to sell. Restaurants are not something you can do on your own. You need good help. I got sick of pampering the staff.

            1. re: sanglier

              "Something quick near the office" is relying on local office worker foot traffic. If there's only a few places to go to within a few minute walk from the office, they have a captive audience, regardless of how bad the food/service is.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                Every office isn't in a highly trafficked area with loads of workers. Mine is in the middle of nowhere, your premise doesn't apply here.

                1. re: sanglier

                  Read my comments again - if there are only a FEW places to go, there's a captive audience. I specifically mentioned foot traffic, but it can still include driving traffic.

                  It does still apply if there are only 3 places you drive to from the office, where to find another 15 restaurants to go to, you'd have to drive another 10-15 minutes.

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    I guess I'm just not absorbing the point you're making. Every restaurant is by SOMETHING that would explain people coming in. My broader point is, how do restaurants that perpetually get it wrong stay open for any length of time.

                    1. re: sanglier

                      If there is a lack of competition in a particular area, a place may not have the motivation to change.
                      For a time I worked in a small industrial park. Our lunch choices were the downstairs cafe, a 5-10 minute drive for fast food, or pricey delivery. With most employees given only 1/2 hour for a meal break, that cafe did (and still does) very well, though I felt it's offerings were sub-par and overpriced for the quality.

              2. re: sanglier

                Good lord, that sounds like the restaurant I just left a few months back! After enough of the BS that went on there at that restaurant(boy do I have some stories), the boss's daughter was the straw that broke the camel's back. She had no management authority and was just a server, yet she took it upon herself to rip into us when the restaurant got busy instead of buckling down and helping out. Before I left at the end of my shift, I let them know I was leaving that day. I normally don't quit a job on short notice, but I knew that I had become miserable there and because of that, it was time for me to leave. Thankfully, my second job(which was the career path I was pursuing) had a full time position open up just a few short days later.

                EDIT: This reply was to the post about the restaurant being utter chaos, employees yelling at each other, customers grousing, etc.

            2. It often seems to me that people who open restaurants have knowledge/experience/training in running a restaurant yet know nothing about the actual food. Or, conversely, they are great with food but don't have a talent for running a restaurant. It is a magic formula to master both.

              1. People are always telling my husband and me "Oh you cook such great food, you should open a restaurant." Luckily, we know people in the business and have never been taken in by those accolades. Unfortunately, there are lots of folks who go into the business without knowing what they are really getting into. Food can be the problem, but so can menu, location, design, service and a whole lot of other things---money, time, ego, commitment. There is one place in my town that is failing because the food is airline quality and the owner thinks guests should come to him. Another was created by someone never in the business and the food is no good. If they went onto Yelp they would see the terrible reviews but since their friends keep saying "great place" they seem forever lost....and they will close.

                1 Reply
                1. re: escondido123

                  Ah, this rings true. I recall a tiny one-man pizza place that tried to start up maybe 3 years ago.

                  Location: lousy, tucked into a stripmall, behind TGIF.
                  Decor: nonexistent. Freshly painted all white; bargain-basement chairs/tables; hand-lettered signs.
                  Kitchen: poorly setup for workflow. Looked like how his home kitchen probably worked.
                  Service: Nicest guy. Took forever. No idea of difference between relaxed home cooking and production kitchen.
                  Food: woody crust. Too-sweet sauce. Average cheese. Poor overall blend.

                  He shared that he loved pizza-making and that his friends had encouraged him. You could smell the doom walking in; once we were in, had to order so as not to humiliate him. He lasted maybe 2 months.