RECIPES FOR SUCCESS
Independent restaurateurs defy odds of longevity in the industry
FICKLE FLORIDA, WHERE RESTAURANTS COME AND GO — sometimes overnight.
The failure rate of restaurants nationwide, once quoted as up to 90 percent within a year of opening, has been debunked by recent analysts showing the figure is only about 29 percent.
Challenges abound for all those in the industry — food trends, demographic changes, and the economy’s wild ride among them.
Then there’s labor — a constant problem in a tourist- and seasonal-market state. Everyone is trying to snag the small marketplace of pro servers and cooks.
But in South Florida, there are those restaurateurs who have made it — and have opened multiple eateries spread out in several counties. These are largely the independents, and generations of families in some cases, who have a handful of concepts that are successful on all levels.
What made them so?
We talked to several who provided insight into their processes. Solid work ethics, business acumen, market foresight, and putting ego aside to learn from the best of the competition are cited. Not withstanding, there was some luck involved, too.
Sometimes, you have to leave a good thing alone.
The Veranda is one of the oldest restaurant in Fort Myers and is owned by Paul Peden, who knows a great restaurant concept; he’s operated seven or eight over the years.
But the dowager of fine dining is a “one-of-a-kind operation. Unique in so many ways,” he says. Yet it continues to evolve. “Whatever the guest wants it to be, we want to accommodate and change for them.”
In that regard, it will never be duplicated, he said.
At one time or another over 40 years, we had steakhouses, seafood, Italian, Mexican restaurants. We dipped our toe in all kinds of concepts. What we found is it’s a lot harder to run seven different concepts than two.”
He’s put his focus on Rib City, a barbecue spot he has turned into a franchise, with 28 of the full-serve ’cue restaurants in Florida and six other states.
Rib City is easily duplicated. “You can zero in. You know the operating costs, and if you manage labor costs, you can do comparables between stores,” he said. It’s the same physical setup, mostly, and the same menu, and same expectations for sales.
But even in a same-same restaurant, you have to be passionate about it. “You gotta do it. Walk the walk and talk the talk. You have to be a personality that doesn’t like confrontation. You have to be prepared for it on a constant basis.”
He keeps up with the trends in technology that he says are changing the business drastically.
“We see a huge growth in home delivery and casual fast-service. Panera Bread: you don’t deal with a service person — You order, get your food and sit down.”
The end of full-service restaurants won’t be soon, but more restaurants will be using this model to eliminate labor costs, he said.
A new generation of diners doesn’t mind the self-serve or ordering by screen, he says.
HOW TO BUILD A RESTAURANT EMPIRE
The co-founder of The Alinea Group shares about staying motivated, why restaurants fail, and how they choose partnerships.
From the moment they decided to open their first restaurant, Nick Kokonas and Grant Achatz (pictured top), owners of The Alinea Group, have always done things differently. Before Alinea opened, they documented their plans and thought processes on an online forum, then came Next and their revolutionary ticketing system, and The Aviary made us all give cocktails a second thought. The Group now boasts five establishments in Chicago, and one (soon to be two) in New York. They have been showered with every accolade imaginable with their dishes and ideas constantly imitated around the globe. Even non-foodies know about “the restaurant that serves dessert on your table”.
How do they do it?
WOULD YOU PAY TO HAVE DINNER IN A STRANGER'S HOME?
In a Belgravia townhouse on a sultry Sunday evening, Helena, a 30-something fashion designer, is delicately sprinkling pretty edible flowers on to a salad of feta, watermelon, cherry tomatoes and microgreens. For someone about to host dinner for five complete strangers, she looks surprisingly serene.
Helena has organised this dinner party through the app AirDine, which allows users to eat at strangers’ homes around the world. With a similar feel to Airbnb, hosts set up their own profiles, concoct a menu and set a price per head; diners then rate the experience afterwards. The app was launched in Sweden in February 2016, and currently has 30,000 users. It’s now expanding to Britain and 23 other countries. Tonight, Helena, from Gothenberg, is hosting the first ever UK experience.
Along with four other guests, I have booked in for dinner in Helena’s kitchen, having paid just £10 (through the app in advance) for a three-course meal. Two glamorous psychologist friends, Carole and Macarena, who are doing a course nearby, arrive. Two more guests turn up separately: Stine and Abbie, who work in fashion and TV respectively. (Stine is Swedish and Abbie lived there for a year, which is how they discovered the app.) We range in ages from our mid-20s to our mid-40s.
I like that element of the unexpected, not knowing the people around the dinner table. ‘I first heard about AirDine from friends in Gothenberg and thought it sounded fun. I like that element of the unexpected, not knowing the people around the dinner table,’ Helena explains. ‘Usually when I have friends over for dinner, it’s always the same crowd, but this is an interesting way of meeting new people and mixing it up a bit.’
REIMAGINING THE POWER OF YOUR BRAND
Stores and malls are closing. Grocery sales are declining. Competition is intensifying. If you're in the retail industry today, none of that is news. But what might be surprising to learn is that the numbers are not all bad — and leveraging brand power is making the difference for retailers and brands getting it right.
In March, consumer confidence reached its highest level since December 2000, according to monthly reports from The Consumer Confidence Board. For the first time in over a year, data from market research firm Nielsen shows private brand shares on the rise for the past three four-week periods in a row. Our research shows more than two thirds of shoppers believe the brands they buy care about them and their families — and would recommend those brands to others.
So what can retailers and brands do to make sure they land on the winning side? To begin, they must realize that as consumers redefine value to include more than just dollars and cents, it's no longer enough to compete solely on price. Leveraging the full power of brands (which includes the "brand" of retailers themselves) today has become a multi-service, multi-platform and multi-sensory endeavor.
To better understand which tactics resonate best with consumers, we conducted two major retailer and brand surveys last year. For the Retailer Radar Survey, nearly 4,000 consumers in North America were asked about their perceptions of, and shopping habits for, more than 80 major retailers in a wide variety of categories, including grocery, beauty, pet care and convenience. For the Brand Radar Survey, over 13,000 consumers were surveyed regarding more than 400 brands covering a range of categories.
The research shows a lot is changing about our industry — the way consumers are shopping, making decisions, spending money and more. Traditional tactics just aren't working for the consumer anymore and retailers must look hard at the investments they are making and choose those that are truly going to work best for them in terms of generating additional loyalty from their shoppers and getting a greater return.
Let's take a look at top retailers in three industries that are leading the way in leveraging their brand power — and driving sales and consumer loyalty in the process.
5 FOODS THAT STOP HAIR LOSS
Seeing more strands in your brush than usual? While contending with bald spots and thinning tresses is stressful, there is hope: Research shows that it’s possible to thicken hair back up through dietary changes.
Fill your plate with the following foods, which are rich in proven hair-growth nutrients.
Hair is a protein fibre (as are nails), which means you need to eat protein to grow new strands and keep the existing ones strong. Protein is also required to produce keratin, a key structural component of hair.
A smart choice is marine-based protein, like salmon, which has been shown to boost hair health in women thanks to its omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin content.
When used as a topical treatment, honey can improve the look of thinning hair. In a study of patients experiencing seborrheic dermatitis, which includes scaling, itching, and hair loss, those who applied a solution of 90% honey and 10% water to their scalp every other day for four weeks reported an improvement in hair loss at the end of the study.
Zinc seems to be a super nutrient when it comes to preventing and treating hair loss. In one study, researchers compared the zinc levels of 50 people with hair loss due to alopecia areata to 50 healthy controls and found that all of the alopecia patients had significantly lower zinc levels. Another study examined the zinc and copper levels in 312 men and women experiencing hair loss. No matter the cause of the hair loss, all subjects had significantly lower zinc levels than controls.