What Makes the 5 Star Difference in a Cafe or Restaurant

Posted on 28 june 2016

Guest post by Ken Burgin of Profitable Hospitality  

5 stars, 3 hats, Top 50 – these 'best of the best' lists often feel very remote to the daily bustle of a local cafe or restaurant. Whether you're in the big city, local suburb or a small town, there are common factors to any successful business.

1. Repeat customers who tell their friends. Business grows quickly when people are excited about where they've been! Each time they come back it's as good as before (how often does that not happen?). Their comments and reviews on social media are noticed and acknowledged.

2. An eager queue at the door, and your 'capacity management' systems ensures that the wait time is minimal. The place feels efficient.

3. Great food every time - not 11/10, because that's hard to sustain, but consistent and very good quality. 85% every time will do very nicely.

4. A menu that has your favourites, plus something new and fresh. 8 out of 10 people want the same as last time, so don't go changing just for the sake of it. If the cooks are bored, don't let them tamper with a good menu to find their happiness!

5.Warm and comfortable lighting - a combination of ambient (atmospheric) and directional lighting. Most baby-boomers are wearing glasses - can they read the menu in the light you provide? They also love good music, but are allergic to loud noise and racket.

6. Comfortable chairs - not big and slumpy but comfortable enough for people to enjoy themselves and keep on ordering. Good tables that don't rock 'n' roll.

7.Nice smells from the kitchen - good food and good ventilation to remove stale odours. Fresh produce and good refrigeration to keep it in peak condition.

8. Happy, attentive staff who know you - when staff stay around they can't help but remember the regular faces. Friendly but not familiar.

​9. Labour saving equipment to get orders and bills out fast - to mix, cook and wash, and to process orders and prepare bills.

10. Low staff turnover, because good staff like the work and get job satisfaction – these are the people who are not subject to the wander bug.

11. A good mix of keen trainees and experienced staff, with a culture that encourages everyone to improve their skills.

12. Good systems that are easy for new staff to learn, written down so they're clear and consistent. Good training systems to get new people up to speed quickly.

13. Smiling suppliers ready to offer the best deal - they love being paid on time and always manage to find special deals or low-cost items just for you.

14. A clean and well equipped kitchen, with good commercial equipment, space to work, good lighting and easy to clean.

15. Low food and beverage costs, the result of careful menu planning, good skills, honesty and careful purchasing. This means profits are strong, and the owners are relaxed and ready to invest in new equipment and marketing.

Ken Burgin works with food service operators worldwide to help make their businesses more popular and profitable. He is a former restaurant and cafe owner in Sydney, and the founder of ProfitableHospitality.com, a resource site for the latest information on food & beverage marketing, management and cost-control. He also presents the weekly podcast Profitable Hospitality on marketing and management. He likes finding out the 'why' of business success, and the 'why not' of business problems. He enjoys a long walk in the morning (for podcast listening), sharing photos on Instagram, and finding great bakeries.

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