I recently read an article about a restaurant that was struggling to stay afloat with rising food costs and fuel surcharges with great interest. The title of the article caught my attention because I am acutely aware that both are factors that affect independent restaurants in a major way.
What struck me most about this article was that the primary story was about a restaurant that had been in business for over 25 years. After 25 years in business the owner was contemplating closing the restaurant because of rising costs and a sluggish economy. He went on to say that one night he only had (5) guests spending a grand total of $75 and in a subsequent night he had 40 guests. He lamented about the “boom and bust” and that the bills just keep coming and that he was facing an uncertain future. He also indicated that his food costs have risen over 20% in the last year.
In the article it was also stated that a recent post by “one of the most historic restaurants in…” was “alarming” The post was an interesting poem that essentially announced to anyone that wanted to read it that the restaurant would probably close soon.
After reading this story, I wanted to see if there was anything that I could do to help this restaurant. I found the restaurant on a Facebook personal page, not a Business Page. There was a Facebook Business Page that was neither claimed or updated. I googled the restaurant and found a website domain that was in Japanese, I found lots of business listings on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Urbanspoon reviews. I also found the restaurant’s Google Places which was unclaimed.
What I found most compelling was that although the restaurant had over 600 friends on their Facebook page and had basically announced that the restaurant was closing people were still posting to the page. People were still sending positive comments, posting pictures, and generally wishing the owner well. Equally as compelling were the reviews on the other sites. Many were absolutely negative and regrettably many of those were recent.
Increasing costs do have an adverse affect on restaurants, independents and chains. A sluggish economy also can impact a restaurant’s traffic, but not managing your online presence will virtually assure that generating new guests will not happen.
I am an optimist and I think that with some help this restaurant can regenerate itself. I have sent a message to the owner and offered some resources. Admittedly, I do not know the operating conditions, finances, or other factors affecting this restaurant but I believe that we can rekindle his relationship with the public.
and while you are waiting, please review your online marketing. There are so many things that do not take a lot of time or a lot of money that you can do for your restaurant. If you would like some help just send me a message and I will send you some resource links.