Restaurant Chains ‘A WARNING’ – Please Read This

By Bob Morrell on February 25, 2020

Over the last 18 months I have eaten in more than my usual share of chain restaurants all around the UK.  Amongst some excellent meals I have noticed three troubling trends, which I fear, if not remedied very quickly, will send yet more famous brands onto the economic scrap heap.

1. Food Type Authenticity and Quality

If you’re an Italian restaurant, there are a few fundamentals you must observe. Things like, red wine should not be chilled, nor should the tomatoes in a Caprese salad. The salad should be dressed with olive oil and salt and have basil leaves of a reasonable size. If you’re a French restaurant, the items on your Menu Du Jour should mostly be available! If you’re specialising in steaks or burgers you should pay attention to the way each one is cooked, otherwise what’s the point? If you’re a Mexican restaurant, have plenty of fajitas, if you’re a fusion restaurant known for a Thai-style pork-belly then make sure it’s good, every time, without exception.  Whatever your speciality, make sure the top 3 dishes you serve are consistently incredible. Times are getting harder for restaurants and if the signature dish of each one is poorly executed 20% of the time, or more, then the reason for visiting diminishes to the point where we simply won’t bother.

2. Table Cleaning

When a table has cleared and the customers have left, please, do not wander over, and from a distance of about 4 feet, spray and huge cloud of noxious detergent over the entire table. For other, nearby diners this is not only a horrible smell, it’s a horrible sight. Is it so hard to spray it on the cloth out of sight of other diners and then attend to the table?

3. Surly Service

‘Is everything alright with your meal?’ This lazy, badly considered question is almost as bad as ‘How are you today?’ from someone who doesn’t care how you are. This closed question is desperate for a one word answer – ‘yes’. Most of us cannot be bothered to complain when a meal is poor, we just decide to vote with our feet. When you receive a complaint, don’t compensate a customer by offering to pay for a small, additional glass of wine, instead of taking an inedible main course off the bill! If you are lucky enough to have customers queuing to get in, train your staff to manage their expectations instead of ignoring them.  If you manage a restaurant attached to a world famous brand with a reputation for luxury dining, do not try and maximise your revenues by selling two sittings for each table, every evening – thus forcing the first sitting to hurry through their meal. If you want to charge a standard 12.5% service on top of your already high prices, why not attach that to the food element of the bill only – rather than including the wine on which you have already made 100-150% mark up?  If you expect large tips then why not insist every member of your serving staff delivers exceptional service?

The chains I am talking about here exist in most major town centres and many shopping centres – and in my view if they can’t attend to these pretty obvious failings, then they cannot and will not survive the current climate, and frankly, I need them too! We live in times where we either want food quickly – thus takeaways and pizza delivery businesses are thriving, or we want great service and value when we go out – which very few brands seem capable of delivering.