Harlem Restaurants, The Business Resource Harlem Restaurants, A Business Resource Guide: articles will be posted to provide information that will help owners and managers of Harlem restaurants operate their businesses better.
Harlem Restaurants, A Cutthroat Business Environment
OUT OF BUSINESS (as of 2008): Butterfly Blue Caribbean Style Restaurant
Harlem restaurants operate in a cutthroat business environment. If you wish to become a restaurant owner then be wary. New Harlem restaurants open their doors every few months, but most of them go out of business before the second year on the calendar. There is usually a number of competing Harlem restaurants causing the market to be flooded. If you understand all of this, but still want to open a Harlem restaurant then think about the following issues.
Although this is an obvious idea, location should always be on your mind when deciding to open a Harlem restaurant. You want a high traffic area, but not one saturated with Harlem restaurants especially those that are part of chains and have huge advertising budgets. At the very least, consider carefully choosing a location with a competing Harlem restaurant offering the same kind of food or service as yours.
Great service is part of most great Harlem restaurants but good help does not come cheap. In order to boost the performance of all team members, consider pooling tips in order to elevate everyone's pay and keep the team members happy. People that cannot stand the thought of sharing their tips with other people on the team probably are best working someplace else.
Especially in the beginning when funds are low, efficiency for Harlem restaurants will either make or break your new venture. Wasted food, condiments, and staff time really eat into any potential profits and anyone with any experience in the Harlem restaurant business knows that profit margins are small in the best of times. Keep track of every statistic you can and be sure to follow up on any negative trends immediately.
Customers get a certain expectation of your Harlem restaurant food, service, and general experience. Make sure to provide them with a consistent, enjoyable experience so they will return many times in the future. To accomplish this, Harlem restaurants need to focus on the details of training, food ingredients, and food preparation. If you are trying out a different quality of ingredients, do it in a special or new dish. Don't mess with the old, trusted entrees that customers are used to. Test the new ingredients and if they are success you can add the new dish to your regular menu.
Those Harlem restaurants that succeed have staffs that are dedicated and passionate about what they do. The Harlem restaurant business involves long hours and competition that'll leave you ragged by the end of the day.
Finally, originality is an absolute must (of course I am assuming that you have good food or else, well...). There are a lot of Harlem restaurants out there and the ones that break into the market and make it are those that come along with a new idea. Maybe this is in menu selection but more often than not, it has more to do with atmosphere and ambiance. Do not be afraid of being bold and adventurous when planning your theme and menu items. People crave things that are different.
Harlem restaurants that earn a profit can be difficult and time consuming. It is good to know that it can be accomplished. Be very cognizant of each dollar you spend or waste on frivolous things. If you find a hot location for your Harlem restaurant and have an efficient staff you will be well on your way to a successful restaurant. Take these issues into consideration and you might have the next hot Harlem restaurant on your hands.
The Best Harlem Restaurants, Give Great Service
OUT OF BUSINESS (as of 2008): Baton Rouge Bar & Lounge
Harlem restaurants can be in only so good a location, and your food can only be so good. But is there any limit to how great your service can be? This is the people factor, and it will set you apart from other Harlem restaurants like no other. No matter how fantastic your service is, you can always use a pointer or two to improve.
People may visit Harlem restaurants once if they hear the food is good, but most customers won't return if the service is lacking. It seems that in the latest studies, far too many Harlem restaurants, the quality of service lags far behind the quality of food.
So what are the major beefs with service and how can we make it better?
In the first place, recruiting great servers is always a challenge. The first problem about service workers at Harlem restaurants is that there are people performing it who don't want to be. Too many employees in the service industry are just biding time until something better comes along. How often do you hear "I really want to be a..." writer, actor, singer, skydiver, Indian chief, or whatnot? The service industry suffers a high enough turnover without hiring people whose first expressed interest is to be somewhere else.
The real stars of the service industry at Harlem restaurants are people who have a strong drive to please others. During an interview, you might try figuring out ways to discover whether the candidate is someone who wants to take care of others. A service-oriented person is upbeat and eager to help. They make you feel warm and comfortable just talking to them. Of course, maybe they don't want to stay in your restaurant forever until they retire; it's fine to have career ambitions or to be working your way through college. But at the very least, the candidates should have an attitude that while they're with you, they are servers and nothing else - and that it's something to be proud about!
One strategy for Harlem restaurants is to encourage servers to treat their stations like their own little business. After all, if they have power over their tips, why not give them a little more freedom to earn their tips as they see fit?
Now, we come to incentives at Harlem restaurants. Is no service incentive at all too little? Of course. But what about the business that does the picture-on-the-wall employee of the month, gives out awards, prints up team T-shirts, and hands out little pens and stress toys and holds recognition events and hands out coupons... that also goes a shorter way than some managers might hope. Good, old, honest money does wonders for incentive, however.
So do larger, more meaningful rewards. Instead of a free pizza once a month, why not have employees save up "reward points" for a three-day weekend at an amusement park or stadium game? This is the kind of thing you're more likely to do if you're a larger operation, of course.
Creative is great, but just remember that the best reward for severs at Harlem restaurants is a raise in pay. Remember the problem of hiring people who see service as 'beneath them' - if the job paid better, there might be more people seeing service as a career in and of itself!
You can base cash rewards either on individual performance, or the team effort as a whole. Some Harlem restaurants offer an incentive program where each employee receives a percentage based on the restaurant's total annual sales - this is a great way to inspire a team effort. Individual rewards tend to inspire competition between servers, which may or may not work for your business model. The problem with competition is there has to be a loser somewhere, and the next day you don't want one of your servers out there on the floor thinking "I'm a loser."
And now for a common method of improving service of Harlem restaurants: customer feedback. We've all seen those "How are we doing?" question forms, and most, if not all, of them have one thing in common: the customer has no feedback for their feedback! If a customer took the time to respond to a survey, a simple acknowledgment like a thank-you email or a coupon will help them feel that their time wasn't wasted. Some Harlem restaurants go to the length of tabulating all the data and putting it up on a website. The problem with dropping a form into a suggestion box is that you have no idea if anybody even reads it.
A last element to cover is timing. Who among us would say that our chief regret in life is that we didn't spend more time waiting in line? If you've worked in a highly competitive environment such as a food court, you know that a too-long line will take care of itself eventually - when the customers change their mind and go somewhere else!
Studies have shown that first-come, first-served seating is perceived by customers as the fairest method of serving. But of course, you might have to take into account call-ahead reservations - if so, do clearly state that policy where your customers can see it.
As far as the table service at Harlem restaurants is concerned, a skilled server will be able to read a table and determine if the customer desires to have a leisurely dining experience or is just ducking in for a quick bite. Being too slow will turn off the impatient, but being too quick can make a lower-geared customer feel rushed and the experience will be seen as lacking in hospitality.
These are just some of the points to consider. Service quality is such a time sink, that you can devote all the remaining time you have to it, and still not find the end of it. Hopefully this article has inspired you to some creative actions of your own, so that your business will perform at its best!
Seven Mistakes in Designing and Decorating Harlem Restaurants
OUT OF BUSINESS (as of 2008): LaFonda Mexicana
Harlem restaurants are able to offer a wide range of appeal to the senses. The quality of your food appealing to your customer's sense of taste, the delightful smells wafting from the kitchen appeal to your customer's sense of smell. Too many Harlem restaurants fail on appealing to the primary senses, when the customer first enters and looks around to see what kind of place it is. Don't underestimate the design and decor of your establishment; it sticks in the patron's minds a lot longer than you'd think!
Mistake 1: Furnishings that look cheap and tacky.
Within the holy triad of bar, booth and table, it's the tables that are the most vulnerable to looking tacky. Unless you're running a small cafe or deli, the square table on a single pole with four shabby chairs around it at Harlem restaurants just isn't the inviting place to spend time. You don't have to go overboard on the expense; there are bargain table and seating sets that look great. Booths, however, are the best, inviting your guests to relax at their leisure, where they'll be inspired to stay and order desert or a cappuccino.
The best bets for Harlem restaurants are to offer variety in seating. A bar for the business people dashing in for a quick breakfast, tables for the large families with an entourage of children, and booths for the leisure set and intimate couples and friends. Actually sit down in each seating piece, stay seated for a few minutes, and notice how comfortable or not it is. Perhaps your hard chairs are why guests aren't staying beyond the main course?
Lastly, rips and tears in the fabric need to be repaired or the piece needs to be replaced. Don't grumble at the cost of replacing a booth seat; be glad instead. Harlem restaurants that end up going out of business never stay open long enough to see their chairs wear out. Duct-tape repairs are inappropriate everywhere but truck stops in the Southern states.
Mistake 2: Bad light.
I've been in Harlem restaurants where for all I could tell it used to be a funeral home. Windows, looking out at a hopefully gorgeous view, do wonders to make your environment more inviting. Besides natural light, you will need to think about lighting fixtures. Here, the ideal is bright enough to read by - not just for menus, but for today's single person bringing in a book, newspaper, or paperwork from school and office. But also not too harsh; the lighting should be soft enough to hide blemishes in the face of your sweetheart.
Remember that at some point, the lamp, being the brightest object in the room, will snag the gaze of your patron while they're waiting on their eggs Benedict. Try to make sure the lamp fixture is attractive and clean. It seems funny, but even the cleanest Harlem restaurants I've seen forget this detail. It does not help if your customer looks up from their menu to catch an eyeful of a dusty lampshade with a spider web and a few dead moths right over your table.
Mistake 3: Bad carpeting.
Who knows what the owners of Harlem restaurants are thinking when it comes time to pick out a carpet design? You see this all the time; an otherwise sensibly decorated establishment whose floor covering sports a pattern not seen since Haight-Ashbury in the late 60s. It is a floor, not a bargain-rack muu-muu. Tiling and linoleum doesn't suffer from this problem like carpeting does. Pick a carpet design that is quiet and muted, while going along with the rest of your business' motif.
Mistake 4: No interior divisions in the seating section.
Even one private room for parties will give you a boost in income, as everybody from family reunions to social clubs and business teams will appreciate having an exclusive area to book for an occasion. Lacking that, even a partition or two or planter boxes work to divide the seating space, helping to drown out the noise and give your guests some other visual stimulation than another chewing person gazing back at them.
The scene at today's Harlem restaurants no longer has to deal with smoking/ no-smoking sections, as the smokers have now been either ordered outside by law or been badgered out into the fresh air by the disapproving cries of the clean-lunged. But what about other types of annoyances? The persistent cell phone addict, the crying babies, the cracking baritones, the giddy laughter, and the noisy laptop? You don't have to segregate the space into established zones, but breaking the space up with a few dividers gives guests a chance to pick their own section - even if it isn't officially so.
Mistake 5: The muzak.
Unless it's a bar, music is to be only background noise that fills in the spaces between conversations. It should neither be too loud nor too quiet. Subliminal effect is the key here. It should be present, but almost never noticed. The exception is if you're going for authentic ethnic atmosphere, in which case music of the same nationality as your menu will be part of the sensory canvas. In that case, turn the speaker up one, and only one, unit. With apologies to Spinal Tap, your speakers should most definitely not go to eleven.
Mistake 6: Too cold!
Of course, it's sweltering in the kitchen, and your waitstaff is generating a lot of heat bustling around the tables. But people never like to keep their coat on for dinner. Living-room temperature is best for the seating section of Harlem restaurants.
Mistake 7: Mis-match decor.
We've all had the experience of entering a restaurant housed in a building that's been through several owners. The ghosts of Harlem restaurants past are showing in the odd nooks and crannies. Chinese buffets that used to be IHOPs, waffle houses moving in where a Mexican restaurant moved out, or a liquor store that's been converted into a sidewalk cafe. We all understand that Harlem real estate is expensive enough, without quibbling over the fact that the perfect spot to be the future home of your French restaurant just happens to be a knock-out replica of a Turkish mosque.
But do, by all means, strive to remove every trace of the building's former past before you lay on the furnishings for its present incarnation. Ferns and potted palms are not native to a Canadian environment, the charming Bonsai trees in the planter boxes just won't make it in your South American decorating scheme, and that glorious Mediterranean mural is just going to have to be painted over if your steak house is to be taken seriously. Harlem restaurants that look like you just flew in and set it up gives patrons the chilling feeling that you might be ready to fly out again just after the next Health Department inspection.
Harlem Restaurants, Are You Thinking of Buying One?
OUT OF BUSINESS (as of 2009): Tribal Spears Gallery Cafe
Harlem restaurants, are thinking of buying one! You have been working in the restaurant business for many years and you want to make your dream come true and open your own restaurant. The newspapers have many ads offering restaurants for sale, how do you decide which is the best buy?
First you will need to identify what you want the restaurant to accomplish. There are a lot of techniques of buying Harlem Restaurants that can be learned from restaurant franchises. Those who operate a restaurant chain know it is a rat race to locate and buy a good location for a restaurant. There is a competition to find the best sites, and if you don't get there first you will lose out. Buying a restaurant is very serious business, and those with restaurant chains will purchase several locations at once to reserve the best spots for their restaurants. Their goals are clear and the plans to achieve that goal are already drawn out.
Remember, when you buy one of the Harlem Restaurants, you will also be buying its reputation, problems with the building, parking facilities, and other problems your predecessor had. You may think you will be able to turn the business around, and you may be in for a big surprise. When you buy a restaurant, your success will begin, and hinge on, a solid business concept.
You really need to determine what your motivation is for owning one of the Harlem Restaurants available for sale. If you don't have a specific goal or idea, you will waste a lot of time searching for the right place to buy. The longer you look, the better the chance that someone else will grab up your ideal spot.
Harlem Restaurants, what is your goal when you buy one? Do you want an establishment that will make you enough money so that you will be able to retire in less than 20 years with over $400,000 in the bank, or are you looking for the ability to make $60,000 a year and live a normal life? You can choose to buy one restaurant, or own an entire chain of them. If you don't care about the wealth factor, then you will probably only want to buy and establish one restaurant.
In any event, you need to have a clear idea of the goals you have before buying into the business of Harlem Restaurants. Do you have the energy, desire, and the capital to run a 10,000 square foot restaurant? You will need to be realistic when buying your first restaurant. You need to determine how much money you will have to invest in the restaurant; this will have a large effect on the size and type of restaurant you purchase.
Doing in-depth research is the biggest factor in creating a well detailed plan to reach your goal of buying and running a restaurant. You will need to gather demographic information on who your customers might be. Once you learn this, buying a restaurant will be a great deal easier. It will let you know to look only at those Harlem Restaurants for sale that your targeted customers would frequent.
Successful buyers of Harlem Restaurants use the following to go about buying a restaurant:
Net Cash Flow - The minimum cash flow the restaurant will need to generate to meet your goal, and the rate of return you will need on your investment.
Profits Record - There should be a profitable history for the restaurant. Check what the sales have been for the past three to five years. This will show how well the operation did during this time. Pay attention to whether the profits went up as the years passed, if not find out why and whether you can turn that trend around.
Price Range - How much work will you need to do to bring the establishment up to your operating standard? Adding this to the price of the restaurant will tell you how much startup cash you will need.
Location - You will want to buy a restaurant located in an area that will have a good deal of the type of people who will frequent your restaurant. Real estate professionals can often provide you with a demographic profile of the area so you will be able to see the current population, and projected growth. They also include the income household size and the age of the consumer. Wholesale suppliers are also a good source of information for those looking into buying a restaurant. They can tell you what areas have grown the most, and they know which Harlem Restaurants are doing well, by the volume of orders they receive. They may also have heard about restaurant owners that want to sell their establishment.
Accessibility and Visibility - Another telling factor is how much traffic the area gets, and how visible Harlem Restaurants are to potential customers. You must also make sure people are able to conveniently get to the restaurant you plan to buy. Make sure you will have enough parking and that public transportation is available in the area.
Capacity - Figure how much square footage you will need to have the type of restaurant you have planned. This will be based on your goals for income, and must be calculated well to assure the success of your restaurant.
Other considerations are - The terms of the lease on the building; are there restrictions imposed by the government on Harlem Restaurants, in this area, and what are they; does the restaurant you are looking at have a good reputation; the condition of the building; and will the owner be involved in helping you get established?
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