May 2008

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hello all
whata crazy weather, i dont like such things
see ya and

valveCast Steel Valve

out for an anniversary and we are just as happy whether we eat in a high priced restaurant or a burger king.what we do get annoyed with is the people who bring kids to eating establishments and let them be obnoxious-including places like burger king which are primarily for kids.that is what will keep us away from going to certain places it is the other people and their kids who frequent them.and it isn't that i don't like kids(we have 6 grandkids)but they need to behave when away from home.


rs7oOo Hey, there is what you need.

Cast Steel Valve

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Patrick Bryan

I was listening to the Duct Tape Marketing podcast this morning and Jon Gordon (author of several books including The Energy Bus) mentioned that he used to own a restaurant which only made $500 on a Thursday night. Their solution was to create "Parkgate Thursdays" (their restaurant was called Parkgate). They advertised and promoted this concept and became synonymous in the local area with somewhere to go eat on a Thursday night. Result - $5000 on Thursday nights.
Might be worth looking him up as this is a solution which actually worked for an independently owned restaurant?


It's your function room you're trying to fill, not your main restaurant, right?

That shouldn't be a problem - there's almost never enough cheap places for groups that want to meet regularly to meet up. Of course, the key word here is "cheap": a sewing circle can't afford to book a function room once a week - but each member of the circle probably can afford the price of a lunch out once a week, plus a couple of drinks.

So scan the local papers for adverts for book clubs, sewing circles, roleplaying games groups, etc, and send targetted ads offering a light buffet dinner at a budget price in a private function room. I guarantee you that your function room will be full every night you want.

You won't make as much profit as a formal function, but you'll make more than an empty room - which you're paying for anyway, right? The wear and tear should be low - people who attend book clubs and sewing circles don't generally trash the furniture - and you can always gouge them for drinks if you need some extra cash.

The best thing is that each attendee becomes your own personal little advertising excutive, telling everyone about this great place s/he goes once a week - great service, nice lighting, food's great value for money. And you don't even have to pay them to do it. Should boost your main resturant sales for free - after all, there's no adverising like word of mouth.

Unless your food stinks. In which case they'll slate you to all their friends, and you'll be bust within a month, you stinky salmonella-seller.


I like the wedding reception venue ideas - I'm planning a wedding (my own!) and I'm finding not only do all of the good venues cost a heap, they are also booked out up to a year in advance. Get Stacey's on one of those wedding planning websites.

I'm Australian, so I don't know how your liquor laws work but another idea is a wine tasting night - especially if you have a robust local wine industry. Once a month invite a different winery (preferably one already on your menu) to present tastings. One of my local restaurants does this - the guy who hosts the night explains first of all how to judge the wines (ie. colour, bouquet and taste), then the winery presents maybe two or three varieties each of their reds and whites. It's aimed squarley at people who know very little about wine, so it is very inclusive.

Everyone gets a taste, and then makes up a score. Not only is it informative, but you also get an idea of which wines were most popular (at the one I go to, the guy just gets us to do a show of hands). We pay about $10 as a cover charge, notifications come out by email and everyone is encouraged to bring a friend. It's good for the wineries too - especially the smaller or newer ones that are trying to find their audience.

Remember - choosing the right wine to go with a meal can be daunting for a lot of people. So if in the explanation of each wine something is mentioned about what dish on your menu it best suits, you are making people feel more comfortable about eating at Stacey's and more likely to either stay for dinner or return another night.


Speaking of lighting and other subliminal profit-increasers, pay attention to the music. Studies have been done showing that classical music tends to increase the average meal price paid, though the theme of the restaurant should be considered, (Beethoven in a Chinese restaurant would be odd).

head space

So I quickly scan the comments, note a fair bit of misdirected hating and curiously check out RipplingBeast's entry, prepared for extraordinarily insulting comments.

What a surprise it was to actually read a bunch of sensible comments! Apart from his/her obvious bias I find it rather reasoned (I wouldn't know about mid-west hygiene standards ...).
However, if I was looking for advice I would thank this person for taking the trouble to respond in depth. The truth is, there is no silver bullet but lots of individual factors that create the whole experience.

Lots of good stuff there in my opinion.
(Oh, and I have waited on tables an run a restaurant by the way).


Have a cooking contest for someone to create a new item for your menu. Kind of like a science fair setup in your banquet hall. There's always people who think they're the best and want to compete and everyone likes to judge others. You could probably make a reality show out of it.


Poor Darian!

People's rants should be directed to 'RipplingBeast', not to 'Darian'.

Notice, the poster's name is displayed BELOW his/her comments, not ABOVE.

-- Theresa



Go suck a nut. I can do without the tips from assholes like you and I've said as much to losers like you and your imaginary "lovely ladies".

Most of the things your are whining about are setup by management for the servers. The rest is common sense when working in a restaurant. So we're susposed to modify the entire ebb and flow of a restaurant while serving to put up with your assinine requests? Get bent.

Try working in a full service restaurant for awhile and do things "YOUR WAY" and see how long you last.

As for the clean factor, yeah I agree with the basics like hairnets and automatic taps, flushers, etc. But guess what princess, not everything works 100% of the time and not everything is going to be your way all of the time, so suck it up.

Scott Alan Miller

Another thing that I have personally found that really effects my wife and my restaurant decisions is sound. Restaurants with the radio turned up high enough to make it at all difficult to talk to each other get avoided. Regardless of the quality of the meal we just don't enjoy it and refuse to eat in those places.


get big, comfy seating. and nice lighting.

If there are two restaurants next to each other and one has nice mood lighting and comfy looking seats, then that's where I'm going.

I'm also more likely to stay longer. If I have a big full belly and I'm stuck on some uncomfortable chair, I'll be starting to think about heading back to my nice soft sofa at home.

But if I'm already sitting on a nice soft chair, then I'll say "more wine! And the dessert menu too!"


Interesting what you say about people eating where they understand the menu selection. In the UK a good Indian or Chinese can be packed to the brim, especially the "eat as much as you can" buffet chinese. But here in the UK we are more familiar with that sort of food than we are with Mexican for instance.


sorry I'm a bit late on this post, but ---
really successful restaurants in my area have something unique that no one else does that is really good.

E.g., there's a local pho restaurant that makes really great soups. sometimes you just want some great soup (remember the Soup Nazi?), so the place is packed. They're in a lousy location with lousy decor, but they're packed.

So about your banquet-room problem, I assume you've tried direct marketing to all the organizations (like Little League, Scouts, etc.), trade shows, and businesses in your area? A good A/V system might help attract events -- people need a way place to show the photos/presentation/etc.

By 'direct marketing' I mean you, famous person, actually calling and inviting people to hold their next event at your place, and finding out what they would want to do so ("Oh, sure! We can do that." is a good phrase to memorize).


Use Viral marketing. Hire attractive people to go places that people who would go to your resturants socilize and then causally promote your resturants in conversation. Its deliberate word of mouth. First saw it in Gibson's book Pattern Recognition. There are now ad agencies devoted to it.


Use Viral marketing. Hire attractive people to go places that people who would go to your resturants socilize and then causally promote your resturants in conversation. Its deliberate word of mouth. First saw it in Gibson's book Pattern Recognition. There are now ad agencies devoted to it.



I went through all the comments. You should put a note for a poster to do an “Edit…Find on this page” for some key words before posting.

I have a small ownership in some Bars and Bars/Restaurants in NYC and the surrounding area. I play a six Σ trained scientist for my day time job. I too am fascinated with the bar restaurant business.

The best thing we did was get a full time marketing person after we got big enough (we were probably smaller than you). In addition to managing one location, he is responsible for all of the marketing; he organizes the press releases, product events, cigar nights, speed dating, open mike nights, Little League sponsorships, dart leagues…and such. He bought into the LP, so he gets a salary and a piece of the profits.

You mentioned the rent on the space that wasn’t performing. Consider buying the real estate.

Another thing that worked with the bars when we were starting out is novelty investors. For the bars, for instance, we got a lot of Wall Street Brokers and Analysts to invest. They got bragging rights to owning a bar, and then brought lots of traffic along with expense accounts. The one percent shares were, for the most part, eventually all bought back.

We will do a private party for the local government or Chamber of Commerce, even at small loss for good will. We rented out one of our private rooms for a very nominal fee to an exercise class—most of the women were wives of the mayor and city council. Good will goes a long way; I will go out of my way to get Pizza from the shop that sponsors one of the teams in my son’s baseball league, for example.

A very important thing is your employees: We generally pay over the market rate, give generous Christmas bonuses, and treat them very well. This keeps the best of the best in your employ, and not serving the competition’s customers. Keep them accountable and test their performance. We give the best shifts to the best performers. For our night club type bars, a bartender will start losing shifts if the register slumps. Scott, you are correct that you can predict performance for a given night of the week. You need to find assignable causes to positive and negative deviations.

When you have good staff you can let them have some license. You might offer a new customer a complimentary drink after the meal. Every group that enters the restaurant has an organizer or a leader. Train your staff to identify this person and treat him special.


well i think one of the most obvious solutions(which probably you are doing already) would be to associate your restaurant with the major corporates(with large employee count) in the local area... some sort of special treatment and/or price discounts etc...

discounts don't have to be too high... they just have to be there... and yes make sure you don't embarass guests by pressing for identification etc..

in fact i would even suggest that you make a discount of say 10% for employees of lets say 10 major corporates from the area... and don't insist on any identification... just the fact that the customer takes the name of the corporate is good enough... this should cause

1. people from the privileged corporates to come more often for dates/nightouts etc as they are not likely to be embarassed...
2. more people working other places to come there and take advantage of your no-id-required-policy... just to get a kick out of cheating you guys...

this along with good food and ambiance should do the trick...

Matt T.


If you read this,
Please go wait tables for 3 months.
Then come back to me.

Or go run a resturant.
People like you make me want to shoot my self.

Blue Mikey

My problem with your second restaurant would be that I don't like banquet halls. I feel creepy in them. I can't remember ever having a good experience in a banquet hall. Usually, when I'm there, I'm supposed to be acting happier than I really am and pretending to know the guests of honor better than I do.

My other thought is something my father, who is also fascinated with restaurants, used to say: that restaurants that are physically difficult to get into are always the most successful. Narrow, cramped entryways are best. I presume the fire department would still like those restaurants to be easy to get out of, even if it's difficult to get in.

I'm often unhappy that I'm not rich and successful, but I'm also often happy that I'm not. Thinking about having to buy two restuarants because I'm rich and successful falls into the latter category. (Sorry.)

--Blue Mikey


Yikes! I'll keep this short.

- Why did you implement a banquet room? Did something go wrong or did it simply not take off? Sometimes it's best to pull the plug or change course.
- Pay attention to any comments from those who run banquet rooms. There must be a restaurant association you can tap for ideas.
- Word of mouth. After every event hosted have the manager who was on duty send a thank you not to the customer who booked the room. Make it personal, mentioning how fun it was to have Uncle Ted telling his stories from Africa. Ditto for the wedding planners and such who direct the business to you.
- Have you tried coordinating work outings/team building events? At my office every Wednesday the office is at a nearby bar for half price burger Wednesday. We end up there for happy hour. Convenience, good service, and habit.
- What are your neighborhood demographics? For some reason other restaurants have moved in on your turf.
- Promote those dishes familiar to people (pizza, burgers, etc).
- I assume the banquet food is the same as the dinner menu? I don't plan banquets, educate me. Build your own customers. Take a look at this tailor who does his own form of customer creation


First, for the banquet room: if it doesn't have a hard wall, it's worthless. Build a wall, and set up a quality presentation system so someone can plug in a laptop to video and sound, and get to work. I've shopped long and hard for such places, and in the 21st century, they're annoyingly rare. There's also no chance I'd book a "private" room that wasn't private to both sight and sound; what's the point? My event WILL be interrupted by restaurant noise, so why bother?

And, I have to agree with the software guy's article about debugging restaurants. I hadn't thought of it, but the reason I've never placed my loyalty with any California restaurant is because they always manage to fokk up within two visits.

In the Midwest, that wasn't an issue, because they could teach a new hire how to do it and s/he'd do as s/he was damn well told, the first time, every time, certain shitholes in Chicago excepted. Consistency, cleanliness, and customer service are three things you can do to stand out from every California restaurant I've ever eaten at.

Some ways they've lost my business:

Waiter asks me if I want my water refilled. "Gee, are you gonna ask me if I'd like some air to breathe? I didn't come here to talk to YOU, I came here to talk with this lovely lady you see across from me. If the glass doesn't have a few healthy slugs left in it, FILL THE DAMN THING WITHOUT INTERRUPTING MY CONVERSATION. Twit." Of course, I never say that, but when a waiter gets it right, I tip heavily, and explain to him/her what they did to earn it, and ask them to tell other waitstaff. Ditto coffee and anything that has a free refill.

Restaurant with a long seating line has insufficient places to sit to wait.

Same restaurant has no service for the people waiting. Start my tab right then, bring me some appetizers or sodas or whatever I want while I wait. Outdoor tables too small to eat at but enabling service while waiting have worked wonders for a restaurant's reputation with me. Absence of anywhere to even sit has ended my custom there.

Noise. Kill the noise. One more time: end the noise. Only children like chaotic noise. ONLY children.

Servers who insist on taking time to advertise the special. I can read faster than you can talk, really, and you're taking time away from the lovely young lady I'm with. Explain to me how that's supposed to make you more money; really, I'd love to hear it. Put the special on a blackboard at the door, and/or have the server tell me about it WHILE we walk to the table.

Don't have the hostess walk me to the table. They should MANAGE the seating and greet newcomers. Have my server walk me to the table, and take my drink orders before leaving. Many restaurants have screwed up this one. They seat me and ignore me for several minutes. Very cool; can I get a subscription to this treatment? Maybe with a black-latex-clad mistress to whip me while I wait, and tell me I deserve to be treated like cattle?

Make it clean according to Oklahoma health code standards. You'd be surprised at the difference. For instance, there seems to be no rule in California that cooks have to wear hats or hairnets. At California Pizza Kitchen in Walnut Creek, right up the road from you, I and seven friends sat down to eat. Four of us found hair in our food, and the manager argued that there was no law requiring haircovers, as if that somehow excused him. We got up and walked out. I've also been in cafe-style restaurants where the forks were in a bin for the public to pull their own fork out of, TINES UP. That's just wrong. Pick your nose and reach for a fork, and contaminate four other ones while you're getting your own; it's a great way to express your hostility. It's also illegal in Oklahoma, but not in California. It's why, when out of state visitors ask me about restaurants, they're either dirty, clean, or "California clean," which I explain and let them take their chances.

Wobbly tables or chairs puts a restaurant on my shit list, too. That's such a simple problem to fix, I should NEVER encounter it. Ditto torn upholstery.

Notice I've never mentioned food quality? Even the hair doesn't count as food quality, that's cleanliness and management. The food may have been most excellent, but never made it into my mouth.

Perfumed soap in the bathroom. When I wash my hands, and then take a bite of food, the perfume on my hand wafts into my nose and badly affects the flavor of the food. I've taken to washing without soap at restaurants, and leaving if the water isn't hot enough to do the sanitizing job on its own. I eat food, not perfume.

Not-hot water in the bathroom. This is too easily done to let slide. And restaurant sinks should have foot pedals to control water flow, not handles. if you must have handles, have the kind that protrude and can be turned off with an elbow, so i don't touch everyone else's lame handwashing results right before eating.

Bathroom door handles. About one in ten men in California washes his hands after pissing, and it's gross. In the Midwest, I was in my twenties before I saw a man walk out of a restroom without washing his hands. In California, I went into mild horror-shock when I realized all the things I was touching that meant indirect contact with other men's dicks. Grooooooo-ossssss. Restaurants that have two-way doors with kick plates so I can open them with my foot or hip get high marks. And i flush with my foot, even urinals that require me to hike my leg up martial-arts style. Gimme a pedal for that, too, and if you use gadgets to flush for me, MAKE SURE THEY WORK 100% OF THE TIME.

Paper towel holders that ration out the towels. if I'm going to drop a hundred bucks on dinner, I get to dry my hands without fighting with a machine. Screw with this at your peril.

ANY bathroom stink. This is also too easily handled to let slide. Urine doesn't stink immediately; if I can smell stale urine, it's had a day or so to rot, which means bad management and a filthy kitchen. Don't cover it with perfume, either; I'll still smell it. Others do, too, they're just generally not as conscious of details as I am, so they can't explain why they stay away.

Stingy portions. Food's too cheap to send me away hungry, or force me to order two entrees to get a belly full (and, no, I'm not overweight or a glutton). California cuisine is notoriously light, which doesn't mean small portions and shouldn't be mistaken to mean small portions, so this is especially important in California cuisine restaurants. I don't go to restaurants because I'm not hungry; let ME decide when I've had enough.

Glass tabletops. They're pretty in the brochure, but they are messy, getting water rings on suit sleeves, etc.

Beer bottles and glasses. Bring one or the other, don't clutter the table. Either pour me a glass or bring me a bottle and I'll swig it (and people who sneer at my manners in that regard really can kiss my ass), but don't bring me a bottle of beer and an empty glass, leave it for me to pour, and then expect me to feel I got "served."

Fresh coffee cups. When I'm done with my first cup of coffee, I add the fixin's to the empty cup, and when the waiter pours the second one (without asking me, if he's on the ball), voila, the coffee's ready, adn I don't have to add stuff and stir. Taking away my old cup and bringing me a new cup every time forces me to repeat the operation. This is rare, but has happened, and required intervention on my part. Not cool.

Inaccurate menu pictures. Almost every menu has pictures, and they show the burritos as being fuller than they are, or the burgers are thicker, or the pasta is a bigger heap then I'll really get. The problem there is not only that I've been insulted by being lied to, it's that I can't properly decide what to order, because the proportions of one to the other will be different when the food arrives. I don't know if your menu has pictures, but if it does, there's a great deal of subliminal pissing off that goes on if the food doesn't match the picture.

Tablecloths that are long enough that when I slide my knees under the table, the cloth wants to go with them.

Servers without name tags or a note on the table telling me my server's name. I probably won't remember it when s/h/it tells me the first time.

Servers who don't scan their section EVERY time they enter or leave it to see who wants attention. I've fired waiters from the dinner theater for failing to do this, and rebuked waiters to their faces when i was the customer. It takes no effort, only a concern for your customers' well being, and is unheard of in California restaurants. Every damn time, I have to go to what I consider extremes to get the attention of my server, who may even be walking past my table WITHOUT EVEN CASTING AN ENQUIRING GLANCE AROUND.

Plastic gloves on food prep personnel. As a former meatcutter and restaurant manager (not at the same time), I can tell you authoritatively that those gloves have a higher tendency to grab and hold food particles and germs than latex surgical gloves, which are nearly as cheap, ten times as durable, far more comfortable, and don't interfere with dexterity. This isn't a dealbreaker as a customer for me, it's a management screw up and wasted money, because the plastic gloves get changed so much more often that they're actually more expensive than good disposable latex surgical gloves. Employees also hate them, and you can bet that they contribute a percentage point to your turnover in the kitchen. You can also wash your hands in surgical gloves, and get the gloves clean. And the public is impressed with the surgically-clean implication of seeing surgical gloves on food prep people, assuming they can see those people.

Poor-quality meat. USDA Prime or Choice are the only levels any sit-down restaurant has any business serving, but even then, the cook should examine meat before cooking, and discard anything that the USDA didn't spot. Many chefs inspect the meat when it arrives, and cull it, but many don't, or leave it up to lower-level cooks, which guarantees that some dedicated carnivore like me will end up irritated by gristle that shouldn't be there (Note to readers who may not be aware: the chef is the boss of the kitchen, and there's only one on duty at a time; it's the French and German word for "chief." Everyone else is a "cook" or lower, no matter their skill level or experience, "modern" nomenclature trends notwithstanding).

Bent tines on forks. The dishwasher should spot and pull or repair these; they belong in a middle school cafeteria.

All these things will cause people to not return. Maintaining standards that prevent them CONSISTENTLY will boost your customer base.

It's like selling gasoline, though that's an unfortunate comparison. Within a dime a gallon of price difference, people will always buy more gas from the cleaner gas station; even stains on the parking lot will cost you business.


And since you mention tax-cheating family restaurants, suppose you blog for us why we should pay Federal taxes when the Sixteenth Amendment authorizing them was never ratified, and the Feds absolutely refuse, even in court, to show any defendant or jury any law that requires an American citizen to pay Federal Income taxes.

I'm looking forward to the rhetorical gymnastics you perform to justify the extortion you support.

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