In this competitive Los Angeles restaurant scene where several restaurants are opening each week, it is extremely important that you make a great first impression because that is often all the chances you get. If new customers are not blown away by your fresh new concept, fantastic hospitality, or delicious food, they will cut their losses quickly and move on. I encourage management to seek out the very best employees they can afford that have natural smiles, are extroverted enough to initiate a casual conversation, and have a willingness to learn new skills. These skills alone can often be your saving grace in the early days and will off-set a guest’s negative impressions when they experience mishaps or delays by the new staff with lower technical skills and it will build a stronger bond that will hopefully create frequent visits. Top that off with an outstanding guest focused owner or manager, success is greatly magnified. Let me illustrate this idea with a snapshot of a visit to a new restaurant.
I sat sipping a steamy latte surveying the happenings—The music was Bahamas - Lost in the Light, the smell of sizzling bacon drifting through the air probably would have made a vegan toss their avocado toast, but it was having the opposite effect on me. The place looked spotless and many of the things I had suggested had been implemented to great success. I was particularly impressed with the owner who was greeting guest after guest by their first names, engaging in casual conversations that I could tell had been started on their previous visits. I wish I had videotaped him. He would have been my star in a training video on what to do to build guest traffic. He had a warm smile, his positive energy was contagious, and he was educating his customers why their coffee was far superior to their competitors which charge significantly less. Guest were responding very well and were even bringing him in items they wanted to share with their “new friend.” I was witnessing how repeat customers are built first hand-- one interaction at a time. Several mentioned they had been in on the evening shift with friends to play board games and linger. They loved having this new place in the hood to hang with friends where they felt welcomed. Things were definitely moving in the right direction.
Then I noticed something that I knew would harm his budding business if not corrected immediately particularly in this “semi- service” fast casual model. Despite all the owner’s best effort, what I saw could be the kiss of death to a