There are many reasons why restaurants fail. Amongst the many reasons, one in particular has stood out in my mind lately: Arrogance.
Arrogance in operations, in the culinary execution, service, even all around has had its run in the restaurant world. It may even work in certain markets where the culinary pissing match seems to meet no bounds. However, here in Atlanta and a lot of other markets I’ve experienced, arrogance is a surefire way to fail.
Antithetically, there’s something I’ve noticed recurring in successful restaurant brands: the humble nature. Maybe not so much humble, but more real; genuine. There are a lot of restaurants out there that are built with aggressive, over-the-top identities, interiors and owners. Some work, some don’t. However, there are a bunch of new food service meccas that are making waves with a nose-to-the-grindstone, keep-your-head-down attitude that are blowing up and growing. People fall in love with them. They begin to have ownership.
Maybe it’s an underdog feeling that people have for these concepts. Maybe it’s respect. A little David vs. Goliath? Whatever IT is, they all have a few things in common:
1. The owners/chefs live the brand. They’re brand champions. They aren’t forcing things. They aren’t making things up. The chef as a passion for charcuterie. The owner has a passion for sustainability. The brand forms a strong bond because it’s real.
2. Because there is a driving passion beyond the food, the brand connects with the masses. It’s easy to build a brand around authenticity. People get behind companies that share their interests. Sure, you can shovel food down their throats, but so can anyone else. Winning brands do more.
3. They pay attention to details. They keep things simple. Showing off doesn’t win. It’s annoying. Doing some great while keeping your head down gets accolades and loyal followers. Every detail matters and when food, service and experience are crafted with that mentality, it shows.
People respond positively to restaurants that show talent and skill without being arrogant or a braggart. Sure, design that amazing interior and that amazing menu, but let the food and service bolster the experience and finish it off with excellence. Don’t try to compensate for mediocrity with a “we’re so awesome” attitude and a “look at how cool and swanky we look.” Arrogance will lose everyday when put up against steadfast skill and execution.
Keep your nose to the grindstone. Latch onto passion and let it permeate throughout the brand. Most of all, Do it with Vigor.™