What Makes a Restaurant Great

The Village Inn, Macaroni Grill, Chef’s Table, Chipotle, Brio and Panera are all thriving food establishes in our society today. Some are well known, some have awards for best food, and some have been around for years and continue to grow. What makes these restaurants great, you may ask? Well, all of them have exceptional food, the overall experience is phenomenal, and they all have a unique quality to them that makes people want to continue to return.

Let’s start with the obvious, the food. When thinking of a great restaurant, people immediately think of the food. A flavorful salad, a juicy steak, or even the delicious dessert you had at the end of the meal that brought everything home. High quality flavor, texture, or a taste that makes people come back again and again. Also, the consistency in the chef; the chef should work well with the kitchen and the staff to provide its customers with exceptional food every time. Likewise, in society today, people want organic or homegrown vegetables and meat that is “free range”.  Chipotle’s “Food with Integrity” campaign is the best example of this. Chipotle’s owner, Steve Ells, wanted to create a business where the environment, animals, or people are not harmed. His company embarked on a process of removing all steroids, added hormones, and pesticides from the food. Yes it is expensive and yes it costs more, but Ells did not care about the cost; he cared about the vision he wanted his company to be.

Next, is the experience. When people enter a restaurant, they don’t want to see trash everywhere, or be served by hostile staff. People want a clean environment and a warm, welcoming smile. People want to have their food and drinks served on time and politely. The waiters should have extensive knowledge on the menu, be able to answer any questions asked, and be able to handle common crisis that happen in a restaurant. Another part of the experience is that a restaurant should never, I mean never, run out of an item. This disappoints and upsets the costumer; it makes them have a negative abdication towards the restaurant.  Some don’t mind a not so great looking restaurant for cheap great food. However, when the price of an entree -20 dollars and higher- increases people expect more. It’s a courtesy to offer plush seats, coat check, enough table room to hold everything, descent parking, vegetarian and or vegan options, a wine list with verity, descent restrooms, and the list goes on. When people go to higher scale restaurants, they expect these certain things. That all ties in to the overall experience that a person has when they visit a restaurant.

Finally, the uniqueness is equally important as the rest. If a restaurant has all the same qualities as another, it may be overlooked or ignored.  A good restaurant should have one or more distinctive qualities about it. For example at certain Village Inn’s they offer a charging locker. What that is, is you can pay a certain amount to get a mini locker to charge your iPhone while you eat. You have the key, making it safe. Another example is Macaroni Grill; it has common Italian phrases playing, so you can try to say them out with your table.  Chipotle has upbeat music always on; it makes the vibe positive yet relaxing. When Ells created the first Chipotle, he was on a tight budget. So, he had to use inexpensive hardware materials such as plywood and barn metal. When the industry began to grow Ells saw no need to change the design. That’s why Chipotle’s around the world have the same unique style. In the book Contagious by Jonah Berger, he talks about why things catch on. One of the topics is on the restaurants unique qualities. An example in the book was a mysterious restaurant in New York that opens through a telephone booth. A person wanting to enter would pick up the phone and call using the secret number. If the restaurant is busy then it will go to voicemail, however, if not, the door will open and you will be allowed in. All of these examples possess some unique quality. That is one reason why they have thrived in the business of restaurant owning.

In conclusion, there are three things that stand out when owning a restaurant: the food, the atmosphere/ experience, and the unique qualities that the establishment has. These restaurants are willing to test out new things. May it be food or how the restaurant is perceived, but these curtail changes are what keep people coming back. Companies that have these things have grown to become enterprises because society today is always looking for the newest thing. Through the uniqueness and word of mouth, these companies have thrived and are able to serve thousands of people every day.


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