It is stunning to see the number of restaurants closing, both chain and not chain. We can’t help but to think that commercial real estate brokers are going to have to make some really hard decisions. Do we sit with an empty storefront or out-parcel for three years, or do we give this tenant a break on the rent? We hope banks are letting companies do the latter, or they will suffer in the long run.
Back in October, we published some tips for struggling family restaurants; since it was published I have been surprised how many folks are putting in keywords such as “save my restaurant” or “restaurant management tips.”
Our local Sarasota Boston Market just closed this week. It was a bit of a surprise, as we thought that it was one of the locations that was a survivor, when most of the others have disappeared. We wonder about the negotiations between the real estate owner and the restaurant owner; just who is he going to think is going to fill that spot?
We also hope chain franchise restaurants are able to use this opportunity to unload some of its owned locations and spin them off too local managers. While it is a horrible time to go out on your own, perhaps some restaurant companies can use this trick to survive when they have few people in headquarters staff.
We came across a new trick; in Michigan, a restaurant had an unpaid shift where workers worked only for tips. It was terribly successful, and when customers found out about it they actually tipped the waiters more. This follows the strategy of companies like Dell, Gannett and Honda, that are trying to avoid layoffs by cutting back on salary costs, with the theory that everyone would like a job more than a lower paid job.
The restaurant, Mrs. B.’s Pancake House, wasn’t about to close its doors, but it was doing poorly and needed some help.
With customer traffic down a bit at Mr. B’s Pancake House lately, lead server Mary VanDam asked co-workers if they might be willing to work one shift without wages to help out owner Dave Barham.
The 17 servers, cooks, busboys, dishwashers, cashiers and hostesses who worked the day shift on Jan. 18 received only tips for compensation. As it turns out, patrons got wind of the idea and left bigger tips.
We’re all in this together.