So…I just had an epiphany and as a result am writing this blog post that some people might not like. It might simply be because I am traveling on business right now and had a rough trip, then again, I have been feeling this for a while and just refrained from expressing it. The reality is that most restaurant meals are disappointing (I am refraining from saying they suck because some might think that that is too abrasive a term) and these meals pale in comparison to what any reasonably attentive person could prepare at home. Furthermore, the value of these restaurant meals is simply not there.
Now, when I say value, many would think that I am referring to price vs. product, but in fact, it is not always about price. Value has much to do with how you feel about your purchase. Value includes quality, perceptions, service, presentation, nutrition, freshness, ingredient source and yes, price. Personally, a great meal is never diminished in my mind because of price. I would rather save up for a high priced meal that is exceptionally prepared, appropriately portioned, beautifully presented, flavorful and exciting than simply buy something to fill me up that is inexpensive.
I get truly excited about visiting great restaurants and when I do it is after considerable research. In most cases, these well researched restaurants care for their food, appreciate the source of ingredients, have a solid understanding of good cooking technique, and treat their customers like family. That is the description of value.
Why do people get into the restaurant business if they fail to understand the basic principles of a great food establishment. Don’t misunderstand me..I am not talking strictly about fine dining. Any restaurant, focused on any demographic, with any price structure can follow these principles. Unfortunately, so many do not.
As I sit in yet another restaurant for a weary traveler I look around at fake environments, menus that are ill-conceived, food that is not cared for, a lack of real fresh ingredients, portions that are ridiculously large, dining rooms and kitchens that are not as clean as they should be, inattentive servers who obviously would rather be doing something else, managers who don’t have a clue, and customers who for some reason accept it all as being OK.
What is most frustrating is that it doesn’t have to be this way! A little bit of training, a large splash of caring, a pinch of interest in the quality of ingredients, a sprinkle of focus, a large portion of pride and the whole scene could change.
Going out to eat should always be viewed as something special, even if our lifestyles dictate that we spend a larger part of our food dollar in restaurants. Dining out has become mundane and this is criminal (from someone who has dedicated his life to the restaurant business).
We have thousands of culinary and restaurant management graduates coming out of schools every year and yet the larger portion of restaurant operations seem to get less and less exciting, more and more mediocre, and very light in “value” delivery.
There are over 900,000 free-standing restaurants in the U.S. and far too many don’t really deserve a steady flow of patrons. This is sad, but true. THIS CAN BE FIXED.
Cooking and service are HONORABLE PROFESSIONS. There are few things in life more gratifying that breaking bread with others and preparing for those who do.
When the REAL VALUE is not there then price is the most important factor in people’s minds.
I just want a meal that is an expression of caring, that reflects a commitment on the part of the chef, cook, server and manager. Is that too much to ask?
For those who are ready to make the leap towards value and invest the time to be great – contact me for help. This is what I do and I can coach you through the process.
Contact me through my website at: http://www.harvestamericaventures.com
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