Running a Successful Restaurant in Tough Financial Times

Is it possible to run a successful restaurant during tough economic times? Can these restaurants not only survive, but continue to grow? Absolutely.

While it is not always easy, and may take a bit of creative thinking, there are successful restaurants that have managed to improve their profitability in spite of the downturn in the economy. These restaurants realized that many people are still working, and that they are still going out to eat, both as a matter of convenience, and for entertainment.

The restaurants that have been successful cover the spectrum of restaurant concepts, and are in many aspects very different from each other. These businesses do share a few things in common.


People want to get a good value for their money. For some, that means spending as little as possible. However, for many others it is feeling that what you get is worth the amount you spent, regardless of what that amount is. The customer could spend $10 in Restaurant A and feel disappointed, and the next night spend $10 in Restaurant B and feel like he had gotten a very good deal.

Businesses refer to the concept of “perceived value.” Every customer that walks through the door has a different perception of what is or is not a good value, and they base that perception on different things. It could be portion size, or quality of the food, the ambiance of the dining room, or even the service they get from their server. The bottom line is, if they are going to return to a restaurant they have to feel like the cost of the experience was money well spent.


There is an old saying that it two things are exactly the same, then one of them in unnecessary. The same could be said of restaurants. If your restaurant is the same as your competitors, why should a customer choose you?

A successful restaurant is one that is clearly different from the other restaurants in their market. They are restaurants that when a customer wants a particular experience or type of meal, that restaurants name comes to mind. It is about being able to stand out from the rest of the crowd, and to be recognized for what you do better than your competition. asiate baden baden

Look at the restaurants that you like to go to. Why do you choose that particular restaurant over the other restaurants in the area? It might be because they have the best BBQ around, or it might be the best salad bar, or the best selection of micro-brewed beers. It might be something as simple as the fastest service, but there is something that brings you back repeatedly.

An example is the top two fast food burger joints; McDonald’s and Burger King. On the surface they are very similar. They both have comparable menu selections, offering burgers, fries, chicken sandwiches, salads, and breakfast items. However, each of these two operations has differentiated themselves from the other. No one confuses a flame-boiled Whopper with a Quarter Pounder, and BK doesn’t have anything that tastes like a Big Mac. Which one is better is a matter of personal choice, but the point is, they are very different in spite of their similarities.


Why has McDonald’s managed to grow their profits while the local burger drive-through struggled to survive? Among other things, it is the power of the brand. People recognize the name, and when they are unsure of where they want to go, they will choose what is familiar. Now I’m not suggesting that you should try to compete with McDonald’s popularity, but you don’t have to. If your restaurant is located in a small mid-west town, you don’t have to try and convince the people on the west coast that you are good, you just have to be famous in your neighborhood, because that is where your customers are coming from.


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