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As we recover from an exciting weekend of playoff football and prepare mentally and emotionally for the biggest sporting event of the year, I began to reflect on the similarities between the game of football and the game of restaurant operation.

The quarterback is undeniably the designated leader of a football team just as is the chef in a restaurant. Both call the plays or at least implement the plays as designed by the leadership team of the organization. Sometimes they have to audible and change the plays in the moment to reflect the need for change driven by circumstances. Both the quarterback and the chef rely heavily on every team members commitment to preparation and consistent execution of the game plan and both would agree that their success lies in the hands of this cast.

Both the football team and the restaurant dedicate substantial time to the development of their differentiated product through discussion, research, observation of competition, conditioning, design, practice, scenario planning, recruitment and on-going skill development. Without these initiatives any level of success would be hard to imagine.

Both organizations are dedicated to providing a guest experience that equates to value for those investing (although $25,000 for a 50 yard line seat at the SuperBowl is bordering on obscene) in a game day or night out in a restaurant. The football team is truly focused on building their brand to ensure loyalty from their fans just as the restaurant is equally focused on brand to bring back patrons time and time again.

The football team knows that it is all about filling seats in the stands and getting prime time access on major TV channels while the restaurant zeros in on filling tables and attracting positive press and exposure to the public through the media.
“The top line drives the bottom line.”

Football has Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Colin Kaepernich and Russell Wilson who become the focal points of media attention just as restaurants have Thomas Keller, Alice Waters, Mario Batali and Grant Achatz to be their heros of food. Out of the eye of the press both quarterbacks and chefs would again agree that their teams success is totally dependent on the supporting cast on the football or restaurant team. Sometimes that supporting cast winds up taking on the leadership role to win the game or the evenings service. Peyton and Tom would be less than stellar without an offensive line that steps up in a critical moment, running backs and wide receivers that break a tackle or make a mind-blowing reception, just as any noteworthy chef would fail miserably without a cadre of competent prep and line cooks and a field of efficient, customer oriented servers.

Football teams and restaurants are in the service and entertainment business. Guests pay to have a positive experience. Once loyalty is built, these same guests may even forgive mistakes and losing days on occasion, but even the most serious fan will hang their head when those mistakes are too consistent.

The goal of both organizations is to build a team of passionate, dedicated, hard working and talented players (employees) who will put their personal goals and interests aside for the good of the team. When this happens they are Superbowl bound.

When the football is snapped on February 2, 2014, think about your favorite restaurant or restaurant employer and know that to get to that game or level of success – every player must be willing and able to dedicate 100% to the effort.

Play ball – may the best team win!

NOTE: If your restaurant is in need of a new game plan or a concerted team building initiative, contact Harvest America Ventures – this is what we do.