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View Full Version : My restaurant completely tanked! What went wrong?



frazzled
10-04-2005, 12:23 AM
I'm sorry if this is a little long but I could really use some honest opinions on this one.

My husband and I ran a catering company for two years and we did all right - we managed to make it through and actually show some profit. We took that profit, moved to a larger city and opened a bistro. ( 5 weeks of renovations - opened 7 days ago)

The location is on a very busy road, there's parking and easy access in and out. We have a college a block away, we're surrounded by other busy stores and there's people walking by constantly.

When we were building - people would come up to us every single day and tell us what a fantastic idea this was - how the neighborhood needed a good restaurant because there was no place else to eat (the only other options close by are a Mcdonald's, subway and pizza hut)

We are surrounded by half a million dollar houses and a few blocks away we start hitting the million dollar zone.

The menu is on the finer end of things but there are some basics included (burger, soup etc.) - but not too exotic either - there's salmon, chicken, steak, lamb

We have 9 foot high windows with our logo on them - we flyered the entire neighborhood and I sent out faxes

NOBODY HAS COME IN

In our first week of operation we had at most 15 people come through. Everyone who did, loved the food - and we even had people in on Saturday who were referred from the people on Monday.

But literally hundreds of people walk past this door every day - and they don't even come in for a cup of coffee. The only person who has drank the pop is me.

Today - we had two people in for lunch - no one came for supper

Saturday night - we had two people for supper

I have no idea what is going on - I didn't necessarily expect a landslide of people - but last Tuesday absolutely no one walked through the door

Any thoughts?

BusinessMan
10-04-2005, 03:54 AM
I'm not in the restaurant biz, but have you tried a few ads in your local media (paper, radio, dropping flyers into the college union, etc)?

A wild guess is that people just don't 'drop in' to restrauants like they would to fay "Joe's Burger Bar". Perhaps your busy roadside location though may help in the longer run, as people will notice the name and recall it when they actually DO want to go out to a restaurant.

Just an idea....

frazzled
10-04-2005, 01:35 PM
thanx business man - our marketing budget is tapped ( our entire budget is tapped :lol: - we're just hoping to sell now and let someone else work it through - it just boggled my mind though 8O

Grumpy
12-04-2005, 07:31 PM
Im really experienced with the resturant business, I grew up in my fathers bar/resturant for 30 years.

First things first, make sure your menu is priced appropriately for the nieghborhood its in, and make sure your menu is appropriate too. Im watchin a resturant die a slow death right next door to me becuase they are only serving high priced gormet stuff in a working class nieghborhood.

The other thing is that it takes time, it dont happen over night. When ya get a customer that comes in, treat them extremely well. They will remember it, and spread the word, and the next week youll have 2. This isnt a business that happens over night.

Make sure the food you are serving is actually good, not just good cause your husband or friend is cooking it.

Make sure your prices are appropriate for the nieghborhood your in.

Make sure your customer service is top notch, if it isnt, that will kill your business regardless of everything else.

Make sure your menu is what the people in the area eat, otherwise its alot harder to draw a client base.


If your doing all that, and making sure its being accomplished, just hang in there, and your business will do well. Failing on any one of them can definitely cause your business to fail.

Marioama
12-22-2005, 06:49 PM
Hello,

I'm actually in the electronics manufacturing business but I have a great idea that I have seen work.

When I was a kid I was a bus boy in this Italian restaurant that was owned by family friends. They had just opened the restaurant and they were looking to generate some activity. What the owner did was very simple. He ran a decent sized ad in the local news paper, handed out flyers and faxed local businesses great special offers:

1. Buy 1 entree and get the second free.
2. Buy 2 entree and get a free bottle of wine. (Not sure if this is legal. check your local laws)
3. Community appreciation night. Everything was 1/2 off.

The night that we offered a free bottle of wine the place was packed. We had to set-up extra tables to accommodate everyone.

On these special nights he would always put one of those huge lights in front of the restaurant. Also, he had a guy playing an acoustic guitar to give the place some feel.

Last word of advice that I'm sure you already know. Make sure when you have people eating at your new restaurant you put their tables as close to the front window as possible. Also, make sure when people walk by they can see the people eating inside.

I hope this helps. Good Luck.

Mario

mbtmd
04-26-2006, 11:55 AM
I have some experience with restaurants. I don't know what attracts the "build it and they will come" mentality in the restaurant industry but I see it more in this industry than any other.

Brick and mortar
You need to not only advertise but publicise your restaurant. Did you do a press release. Did you invite a reporter to sample some food? Join your Chamber of Commerce? How did you create a buzz?

With so much competition in your industry you must be more aggressive.

I am sorry things are not working out for you.
Good luck

jenlownie
04-26-2006, 06:59 PM
I'm not in the restaurant biz so I am only brainstorming here. I will say that if you've only been open a short time, you shouldn't assume it's going to stay that way. It will get better!

Okay, thoughts: one, have you read any of the Guerilla Marketing books? go to the library, bring one or six of them back to the restaurant you're staffing but no customers. So you'll have time. Read through the books. I'm not suggesting any one thing he's got in there, but you may get some ideas generated.

Next: you're new to the city, if I understood correctly - so you don't have local friends that can marshall their relatives to come in, or some such. So you have to build that. Would it be worthwhile to, say, sponsor a special event once a week? Find a local club or organization and offer them Tuesday at 7:00 for their (whatever) meeting. Tell them you'll have specials for them at some super price, or the coffee is on the house, or there'll be fresh pie that night - if they order a sandwich, the pie is free - or *something*. Bend over backwards for these clubs. Approach twenty different organizations, I bet three or six will accept. Make it very attractive to them - don't give everything away, but make it very attractive. Then have killer service good food etc.

They'll remember you and they'll say, hey, we could just go over to (your place) next Saturday. Better than Mickey D's and it wasn't expensive, and we had a real nice time.

Take personal invitations to every business within a six block area (or whatever). Introduce yourself if the proprietor is free, hand him a coupon good for (something), and say you'd love to see him (his staff) whatever at lunchtime. Tell him about the super specials.

Offer to exchange coupons with local businesses. The dry cleaners down the street -- figure out what you can do for him (donuts in the morning, snack, something!) that you can bring by every Friday a.m. Ask for something in return.

You're local, you need local buzz. Word of mouth is good for your biz, right? So you need to start being real neighborly??!

Just thoughts -- might generate some ideas. Sounds like you just need to be able to hang in there and *BUILD* your clientele!

Jen Lownie

Orion
05-16-2006, 11:26 AM
Grumpy offers sound advice.

Mariomama offers advice with a "wow" factor kick to it.

You are new to the community as well as starting a new business in the area. Give it time, and hopefully you have enough cash in reserve to stay open till the business gets into full swing.

One more thing - I have seen businesses do a complete turn around when they have used feng shui for curb appeal outside and an inviting area inside. You might want to give this a try.

Ad-vice_man
06-28-2006, 03:37 PM
Do you have a banner that you can hang outside saying "NOW OPEN" It sounds cheesy but given your busy streetfront location it's probably the best advertising you can do regardless of your budget.

It's Possible that passersby may not realize your open yet.

Get out and network. BNI chapters always need a place to meet and they become a regular source of lunch of breakfast revenue .

Also though it may be too late (some things are never too late) close down one night for an invite only party and invite local dignitaries(political types), Business Leaders, and religious leaders to a free meal. PR leading to WOM (word of mouth) is going to get you farther than advertising right now OMG DID AN ADVERTISING GUY JUST SAY THAT???

Good luck

MLeoCasas
02-01-2014, 04:53 PM
To start, do you have you liquor license? Being situated on a main street With a college nearby kind of demands that. Promote yourself as an eatery and bar (bar and grill, bar and pizzeria, whatever pertains to you).

Also, where clearly you've been putting a lot of emphasis on brick and mortar advertising (and that is important), it should be noted that online resources like yelp, eatery, and other reference sites are an imperative part of restaurant marketing nowadays, especially in urban environments.

Lastly, take that small sample of 15 or so customers you have received and note what their interests were. Were they all buying burgers? Maybe 'casualize' the dining experience according to that. Or did they all buy a nice salmon entree and stick around for dessert an coffee? If so, maybe pander tot he high end a bit.

It's hard to give you really specific advice based on a brief description of your situation, but I hope I helped in some way!

swagger
02-01-2014, 06:42 PM
I'll be honest, I'm fairly clueless as to what happened, if there was so much hype around your restaurant. Try advertising the place, specifically at the college?

lifeliveson
02-02-2014, 11:58 AM
I know nothing about restaurants but did you have an official grand opening? Only thing I can think of is special promotions for new customers and possible discounts for customers who referred them

midynamics
02-05-2014, 05:25 AM
I own three very busy restaurants. Two in London and one in Dubai, UAE.

The first and foremost question that I have for you is : Do you like your restaurant's food and how would you rate it?

The answer is the key for everything.

am.nevida
02-06-2014, 03:22 PM
Im really experienced with the resturant business, I grew up in my fathers bar/resturant for 30 years.

First things first, make sure your menu is priced appropriately for the nieghborhood its in, and make sure your menu is appropriate too. Im watchin a resturant die a slow death right next door to me becuase they are only serving high priced gormet stuff in a working class nieghborhood.

The other thing is that it takes time, it dont happen over night. When ya get a customer that comes in, treat them extremely well. They will remember it, and spread the word, and the next week youll have 2. This isnt a business that happens over night.

Make sure the food you are serving is actually good, not just good cause your husband or friend is cooking it.

Make sure your prices are appropriate for the nieghborhood your in.

Make sure your customer service is top notch, if it isnt, that will kill your business regardless of everything else.

Make sure your menu is what the people in the area eat, otherwise its alot harder to draw a client base.


If your doing all that, and making sure its being accomplished, just hang in there, and your business will do well. Failing on any one of them can definitely cause your business to fail.

I agree with you, i think that the prices and the way you treat your customers are the most important thing. I am sure that nobody is coming because you are "new" in the area, but don't worry! People will come! Try to do a promotion maybe!

KNH
02-06-2014, 05:55 PM
I think a first step would be to advertise to the neighborhood and campus. Do a deal, like two-for-one meals of free dessert or something that might draw people in.

I wish you the best of luck!

DomDom
02-06-2014, 06:02 PM
I own three very busy restaurants. Two in London and one in Dubai, UAE.

The first and foremost question that I have for you is : Do you like your restaurant's food and how would you rate it?

The answer is the key for everything.

In the higher spectrum of restaurants how important is the food actually? I mean comparing the food to the just popularity and ambient/coolness of the restaurant?

SmartPea85
02-10-2014, 05:13 PM
I like the idea of offering some sort of deal like buy one get one, or a percent off on a certain day. Some places use the stamp or punch card system that keeps people coming back (punch 7 times get the 8th one free). Promotions like this can be fun and unique, and people will be more likely to try for the first time or return if they feel they are getting a deal at least once.
You can also register your restaurant under local opinion and rating websites like Yelp. Customers can rate your food and drop comments that might help entice others to try a certain dish or drink. I have perused this website and on a number of occasions gone to a new restaurant solely based on the positive feedback others have given it.

CSomm
02-16-2014, 12:21 PM
I don't recommend deals or coupons at this stage. You're already struggling and you don't need the kind of customer who only comes in because you've got everything on sale. You want customers to believe that you provide real value for your service, at full price. I didn't read anything about your marketing strategies when you opened, so I don't know which of these you've already done, but you have to get into social media, and you have to get the newspapers to write about you (seriously, contact them with an idea you have to promote your restaurant, and usually they will help you spin it into a piece, as long as you've done most of the work for them) and you need to have the best food and service in town. Make sure your customers are leaving with copies of your menu, and that your website is professional and constantly updated.

delusional
02-17-2014, 04:01 AM
How long have you been open? It sounds like you have been open for a week or so. It's normal to have lower amounts of clients when you just start out.
The most difficult but also the most important thing to do now is to manage your stock so you don't lose too much money.

fredkawig
02-17-2014, 07:12 AM
You need to advertise. It seems that people are not aware that your restaurant exists. Use all free advertisement and paid advertisement as much as possible and with what is applicable in your locality.

M.K
02-18-2014, 04:25 PM
Seven days is far too early to start panicking. Building a customer base is a long process, but ultimately will serve you well in your type of setting. Make sure people know the restaurant is open for business. A blackboard outside the door with daily specials is an easy and free way to advertise. Your restaurant's popularity will ultimately live or die on word-of-mouth. Sites like Urbanspoon and Yelp are a great platform for people to talk about your restaurant, so be sure to tap that resource.

Best of luck!

joesimen
01-25-2019, 04:26 AM
use some kind of online services and some kind of marketing strategies which makes your business grow

EdwardParkernl
01-29-2019, 03:04 AM
Well, Comfortable environment and food will attract the customers most. You will also provide some gift coupons to your customers.

Anglinia
03-04-2019, 10:29 PM
You can promote your business online. Also, great food and quality service is very important and Some discount will help to increase the sale.

Gynno
03-07-2019, 02:10 AM
They say you should build a product that solves a problem. Only core features may give you advantages on the market and attract customers. Try to make up research and create a minimum viable product in your niche as described here - https://blog.s-pro.io/minimum-viable-product-build-mvp-startup/ Be courageous, bring the crowd and dare to innovate!

Sophia3
04-18-2019, 09:31 PM
I pretty much become observant in terms of small businesses in my town and the one that struck me the most is that it always start with optimism, but not much preparation, study, and surveying. Perhaps start in a small stall before opening big restaurant.