When is a restaurant failing?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by threeeighths, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. threeeighths


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    Sous Chef
    I came on board at a new restaurant earlier this year as a sous chef. I'm wondering whether I'm part of a sinking ship.

    I'm a sous chef, but in more of a chef de cuisine position. The restaurant is incredibly slow. I find that ownership and management are out of touch. FOH staff doesn't stick around because they're not making money. Everyone says it's the slow season. I've worked slow seasons. This is more like a dead season. Purveyors are getting paid, hourly staff is getting paid. But the restaurant is not doing well.

    What are some of the signs of a failing restaurant? In my position, what should I start to look out for? How loyal should I be to the operation when it's not my name on the menu?
  2. petemccracken


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    Professional Chef
    When outgo exceeds inflow!
  3. tjsbeer


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    Is the maintenance being kept up with?
    Typically the first thing to skimp on is failing equipment, fixtures, furniture, etc.
  4. soesje


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    Professional Chef
    Totally recognizable situation. Although I am not a sous, can say kinda the same.

    When business is slow, it might also be the economic crisis going on, people going out less because they have less money to spend.

    So restaurants get less customers, income is less and means its tough to put up with the outgoing costs.

    A strong point to consider is, how do you feel about your workplace.

    If you are happy there and get along well then its easier to be loyal with them and put up even when situation is bad and its maybe a sinking ship.

    Since you have a leading position, you could consider talking to them and make suggestions which maybe bring in more money.

    A special event that doesn't cost the bank, a special menu, or teaming up with businesses around you, a different concept (something currently being done very often here in netherlands, just to bring in more money) etc.

    Its no fun having to hang around and see business going slow/ down.....

    You could also consider start looking for a different place if you feel uncomfortable/ are not able to talk to the management and make changes.

    Trust your gut feelings......they usually are right.

    Good luck!
  5. linecook854


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    Head Chef
    Weird, I could have type this myself. I am in the EXACT same situation, everything you just said I am currently going through.

    In my place all purveyors and staff are being paid, equipment gets fixed but no profit exists. The owner hasn't taken home a paycheck in 3 years. I am not really privy to financial matters other than food costs and sales (both food and bar) so I know we are not losing money BUT we are just hanging on. Large loans the owner took out 7 years ago just have dents in them (15% paid off maybe). We have zero capital to invest in things we need for long term success. I am sure the bad signs I see you see as well, if there's smoke there's fire no matter how much ownership tries to cover it up.

    As far as not having your name on the menu I wouldn't sweat it. I think of 75% of our menu items (we change it completely every season) and our head chef/owner takes all the credit. Flat out tells customers they're her ideas when it's not even close. Everyone in the kitchen and FOH staff knows I am a far more talented cook with high-end experience when the owner clearly does not. They know just by looking at a dish whether it's my idea or the owners. Not to mention all day to day kitchen operations are my responsibility, I am more of a sous chef but not quite a head chef. Credit goes to the head chef in title no matter what in any place.