Ever been at a restaurant and regretted being there from the moment you walked in to the moment you left? Maybe you regretted it hours later while (you know what I mean). Maybe you are the restaurant owner and are constantly wondering why people don’t come back. Here’s a few of what I think are the most important things restaurants can do to be successful.
- A Clear Name
Have a clear name. That’s pretty much it for this one. Don’t get all crazy and call it something obscure. Examples of names telling you what they have but still retaining personality include Macaroni Grill, or Jersey Mike’s Subs. When you say something like 4 Rivers Smokehouse you know exactly what I’m talking about even if you don’t know what the 4 Rivers stands for. There is this place we actually really like but It’s called Graffiti Junktion. Every time we mention it to someone they ask, “what do they have there?” We shouldn’t have to explain. See? Clear names matter.
- Clear Signage
Have you ever been somewhere where there were 3 different logos? One on the sign out front, one when you walk in and another on the menu? The place was called “Tri-Polar” a hip new urban fusion restaurant. No, I’m just kidding. Some people don’t see the point of branding but it’s major. Think of the McDonald Arches or the Target, um… target. I also saw a restaurant that actually had good food go out of business because people couldn’t see the sign when they drove by. There were some large palm trees in the parking lot that were obscuring the sign. No one knew it was there. Think about the fact that people do judge a book by it’s cover and that if they never see your cover then you have no chance at all to be read, or eaten. That sounds tragic. I meant your food be eaten not you.
- Clear Hours of Operation
No joke. I’ve gone to a place at the same times and there will be a sign on the door that says “Be right back”. I’ve also been craving a certain restaurants food only to drive clear across town to find it closed. If you have any presence on Google or a website, at the very minimum, please have your hours of operation. Also make those times large and clear on the door or window to your establishment.
Ok I’m going to call out a place that was a real train wreck when it came to menus. They had the vibe, the look, the energy of a great restaurant and I couldn’t tell what in the world I should order. It was a restaurant that rhymes with Hall Burger (to not reveal the real name). Make it clear what people should order first. Recommend the favorites. This may be the first time someone sets foot into your establishment. I love, love, love Chipotle’s menu. ( I think they need two registers and two drink fountain stations but that’s another story). But back to the menu; It’s simple, concise and it tells people what to pick first and what goes next. It keeps the line moving and people feel like they have control. Chuy’s menu is also a great example for showing what the top picks are and explains what the different sauces are. And here’s another thing! (I always wanted to start a sentence like that) Pictures don’t hurt anyone. If you can see something you’re more likely to order it. Places like Olive Garden, Denny’s and IHOP are the best at doing this (even though their food leaves much to desire).