Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Changing the Menu - or not

Changing a menu of an existing restaurant can be a difficult task. The chef who has developed the menu, the manager and the customers - all have a stand and all are used to the existing one and might be uncomfortable with any changes. So, why would I suggest to change a menu then?

It all depends on how long the menu is in place, how it has evolved (or not) over time and if it still has a fresh feel to it. Restaurants are not only defined by the food served, decor or furniture. It is also defined by the customers & diners. If you are starting a new restaurant, you have free reign but if the restaurant has already a faithful followership, you need to be careful not to alienate these diners.

I am like most people - a creature of habit (in some restaurants I always order the same dishes) and I don't like drastic changes to my favourite restaurants. The old familiar is comfortable and soothing but can tend to be boring. Will it entice new diners to return, does it make diners to talk about the food in the restaurant to their friends and families? Will customers go out of their way to visit the restaurant?? I doubt it. It might be alright when I am passing to pop in for a quick bite to eat but would I consider a visit when I am planning a night out with friends and we are discussing where to go for a nice meal?

So, how does one go about it to introduce changes? Small steps, small changes at a time. I am working with a client at the moment and we were discussing changes in his restaurant and he was quite open when it came to implementing processes & guidelines to guarantee standards and consistency but we had a bit of a dead pass when it came to the menu. Dishes are rotated on a regular basis over several weeks that is should create the feel of a regular changing menu. This can work for quite some time but it can also prevent a menu to evolve with time & trends.

Working with the chef is key here. Bringing ideas to the table and getting input from the kitchen team is necessary to introduce small changes. My ideas might be great and innovative but do I really know the existing diners? My job is to suggest, plan and implement with the help of the entire team. I know food, trends and the general diner - the team knows the regular customers. Bringing both expertise together should result in a synergy that will bare fruit to amazing ideas. I am looking forward to seeing these changes happening and being part of it.

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