Restaurant Story: Epic Fail

A Restaurant Does Not Run The Same As A Travel Agency

This is a generic representation of the restaurant that is spoken of in the article.
This is a generic representation of the restaurant that is spoken about in the article.

The hospitality industry is based on face to face interaction with customers and guests. This interaction is what will make or break your business. If the customers walk into a restaurant that has a negative or hostile atmosphere, they will not likely have a good experience. Also, they may not come back again, because of how the place makes them feel.

This is something that has been on my mind for the last few years, and I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts on it. I just can’t believe that someone can be so ignorant and arrogant when it comes to running a business, and I’m truly bothered by it, as it affected so many people’s lives.

Everything stated in this article is factual, and not exaggerated. These were the events that took place, which created a hostile and uncomfortable working and dining environment.

Back in 2009, I had the opportunity to go back into working in a restaurant. This was a new place that was just opening and I was privileged to be a part of it from the start.

The problem was with the boss himself. This man, who ran a successful travel business in the past now decided to undertake a restaurant franchise, even though he knew nothing about running a restaurant. He hired on more than enough staff to run the place efficiently and all the hires knew what they were doing when it came to each their own areas of the restaurant. Servers were experienced and knew how to serve and deal with the customers, the cooks all knew how to cook and store the foods, dishwashers all knew how run their station as well. So, we all knew our jobs, how to do them, and how to do them well.

This boss decided that he knew more than his staff (his experienced staff), and would force us to run things his way. There are certain things that can work that way, but when it comes down to it, you can’t sit and force your workers to do things exactly the way you think they should be done, especially when you don’t have the experience. You need to give some leeway and allow for some amount of freedom.

We weren’t allowed to talk to each other unless it was specific to something that involved work (what we were doing at the moment, or what we needed from someone). So, work related communication was fine, but that’s as far as it was allowed to go. We had to stay in our own areas unless it was absolutely necessary to move around for something that was needed.

This all caused a very hostile work environment, and you could feel it throughout the entire restaurant. The customers would talk to the servers and let them know how the atmosphere was in the place. The boss could not see that. All he saw was the dwindling profits.

The boss would go around interacting with every customer that came in. That’s fine and all, but not when he does so in a way that made the customers uncomfortable. Again, as reported to the servers, daily, and in turn reported to me, the dishwasher hiding in the back that everyone came to with their problems and issues.

Business dwindled, no one wanted to go out to eat (especially at those prices) at a place where the atmosphere was so hostile. The hours scheduled for the employees were cut back drastically, and quickly (over the course of only 2-3 months). Employees started quitting, leaving for other jobs because the hours just weren’t there for them. Let’s face it, we needed to pay our bills and put food on the table in our own homes. Not many of the original people hired actually stayed until the end. I myself got out about halfway or less through it all. After all, when a “full-time” dishwasher is only getting maybe, if I was lucky, 10 hours a week, and was “on call” for the rest of the week, it’s time to move on so the bills can be paid.

The restaurant closed upon the lease for the building being up. To be quite honest, it should’ve closed sooner; I think there’d have been less of a loss if it had. It’s really too bad, and I feel terrible, but with practices such as those of this owner, not allowing his employees to do their jobs and not giving them any kind of leeway at all, made a terrible environment, which he couldn’t recover from.

He wouldn’t even hire a manager to help him out so he could have time off. He couldn’t put trust enough into anyone but himself. And that right there is why he failed. You cannot run a business that size and do everything yourself. You have to trust the people you hired to do their jobs, and only when they mess up, take action to correct them, or remove them.

It was just a terrible situation that could have been extremely successful. There was another franchise in the neighboring abutting town about 20 minutes away from his location that opened before he did, and is still open to this day, and is quite successful. The people near this location are not as well off as the closed location, but because of the atmosphere, they enjoy the restaurant even though it’s pricey. The owner of this franchise is a lot more lenient with his staff and trusts them.

They say location is everything when it comes to business, but in this case, it was the perfect location. It was the way it was run that was the problem. It just goes to show you, you can have the ideal location, but if you can’t let your staff do their jobs, then location means nothing because your business is doomed, and you will undoubtedly fail.

Learn from this, anyone trying to open a business, or run a franchise. You need to give your employees some slack and allow them to work, especially when they know their jobs. They’ll get the job done, and be happier doing it if they are not hounded constantly, and always have someone looking over their shoulder because they are not trusted.

I never wished this man to fail in his franchise, and I hope that his next investment goes better for him, I truly do. It’s not that he was a bad person, he was just bad at running a restaurant and bad with trust issues with his employees.

You will notice that I have not mentioned the name of the restaurant, nor have I mentioned the name of the owner. I have purposely omitted those details because this is not an article to diminish the credibility of anyone, or any business; this is an article to present the facts and my opinion on the whole situation. There are some people who will read this and know immediately who, and what restaurant I’m speaking of, and that’s because some of you that are reading this worked there, or have potentially dined there.

I realize that I didn’t paint the full picture, and from some of what I have said, some will read this and not understand that it was indeed a terrible situation, but let me assure you, it was worse than I am making it out to be for some of the things stated. I choose not to go into detail because this is more venting and ranting than it is anything else, so I hope you can understand that. This article is not intended to cause anyone harm, hence why some things had to be left out.

I’m bothered that the place could not succeed as it should have. I’m bothered by the fact that many people had to quit or lost their jobs when the place finally closed when the lease was up. I’m bothered because all of us working there knew what to do to make it succeed, yet none of us were allowed to do anything to make it so. Our hands were all tied, and it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating when someone comes in, tells you what to do, yet knows nothing about what to do, and you do; and when you do it their way to appease them, they wonder why things aren’t going the way they want, when if they would’ve let you do it your way in the first place, things would have gone well.

There really was no reason for this restaurant to fail if it had been run, dare I say it, properly. But it was run with a strict fist, and that never, ever goes well.

I’m sorry I had to rant, but I had to get this off my chest; it’s been cooped up too long inside me. Now that I have said my peace, I can rest easier without the stresses of holding that in. I’ve said it orally to some people, but it’s not really the same as when you write it all out for others to read. Thanks for sticking with me and reading to the end.

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