Words from the Wise
Expert advice from those who’ve been there, done that and continue to elevate the industry.
For five years, the Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA) has been literally giving it away. At its annual “Meet the Experts” event, the room is typically filled with some of Chicago’s most notable restaurateurs and industry pros, who offer counsel and large doses of inspiration to operator-attendees during one-on-one sessions. The ingenious scenario worked its magic again in 2019, sparking a night of lively networking, meaningful connections and these nuggets of advice that we just cannot keep to ourselves.
Partner with a disruptor.
Uber Eats is a formidable force in meal delivery service.
“Uber Eats allows operators to use our massive user and driver network to connect customers with food that they want when they want it (average delivery time is 15 minutes). The tool can be used however preferred—offer the entire menu, focus on low-margin items or experiment with new dishes. Within 24 hours, operators are able to assess the response with the customer feedback we request on every single item. Restaurants have already experienced increased sales and lower marketing costs as a result of demand generated by Uber Eats, and there’s more to come. We’re a company built on innovation and always working to optimize our offering …enhanced analytics, streamlined delivery times and different price tiers are just a few things operators will see in the future.” -- Travis Nelson, Uber Eats
The only mindset is service.
Gibsons Bar and Steakhouse celebrates 30 years as a premier destination restaurant in Chicago.
“One value has guided all of us since the beginning: It’s all about service. We go to the nth degree to satisfy our customers. Our waiters are endowed with the privilege of taking care of a problem immediately and with sincerity, giving the customer whatever is needed to make them happy, whether it’s buying them a drink or comping their dinner. We have never advertised because we know word of mouth from satisfied customers is our best advertising.”
Stay in your lane, but make it the best possible lane.
“We have a basic steakhouse menu with a few additions over the years to ensure there is something for everybody. But what attracts diners is our Gibsons Angus Prime beef, rated one step above even USDA Prime. It took us years to earn that recognition, working exclusively with cattle ranchers in the upper Midwest, and it sets us apart.” -- John Colletti, managing partner, Gibsons Restaurant Group
Make every moment matter.
Pinstripes, a pioneer of the “eatertainment” concept, with food, bowling and bocce ball, has 10 locations nationwide and growing.
“Empower your staff to recognize opportunities that enhance any part of the customer experience. ‘Moments that Matter’ is a program that I’ve used with great success in the past. What our team came to realize is that it’s not about giving free stuff away, but identifying smaller moments with great meaning to the customer, such as getting down on one knee to explain rules to a child at their level or walking a customer to their car in the rain under an umbrella. It creates a culture where staff wants to do the right thing, and customers are so impressed they spread the word naturally.”
Stay true to your core.
“We don’t get caught up in what our competition is doing, but focus on staying true to who we are while continuing to innovate. For instance, our best opportunity is adding finger foods to make it easy for people to snack as they play. We’re careful to keep it classy and appropriate when considering new activities … so we may add shuffleboard and abbreviated versions of bowling rounds, but nothing that feels alien to our original concept.” -- Susan Walmesley, Chief Marketing Officer, Pinstripes
Photos: Illinois Restaurant Association
- Author: Mindy Kolof
- Posted: May 09, 2019
- Categories: Operations Solutions