The Name On The Door

Today’s Foodie Friday Fun is about the business side of food, a restaurant, so if you’re here today for cooking tips I apologize. You probably know chef Gordon Ramsay from his incessant TV appearances and, if so, you’re aware of his obsession with quality and high standards. What’s happened here in New York to his Gordon Ramsay at The London restaurant is a great lesson for any business.

Ramsay at BBC Gardeners' World Live 2008

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The restaurant opened in 2006 and soon thereafter won two Michelin stars. For any of you non-foodies, suffice it to say that there are currently only 14 places in NY that are two or three stars – they’re hard to win.  Unlike the Zagat ratings, these are all done by professional inspectors who are totally anonymous.  That was 2008.  In 2009 Ramsay sold the restaurant to the hotel (he needed the money – that’s another story) and licensed his name as part of the deal.

Fast forward.  The new guide came out and both stars are gone.  In a year (he had the two stars last year).  That’s pretty unheard of and shows a significant decline in quality and standards.  The chef’s response (via Eater)?

“Gordon Ramsay is not involved in the day-to-day running of the restaurants or kitchens, as this is a licensing agreement, but is in communication regarding updates and changes at the restaurant.”

In other words, although my name is on the door I’m not involved.   We heard something similar out of Donald Trump when the Trump casinos went bankrupt (how the heck do you lose money running a casino?!?!):

“Other than the fact that it has my name on it – which I’m not thrilled about – I have nothing to do with the company.”

I’ve done licensing agreements and one thing that is always a part of them are the product standards.  Since it’s your name, you always have the right to examine the product and if it’s not up to your standards, to demand that it’s fixed or not sold.  You might shrug and say well, that’s the restaurant business but it’s your business as well.  If the quality of whatever product or service you’re providing – even through a third party – isn’t up to snuff, it’s your name and reputation, not the third party’s.  Given that many of Ramsay’s other places – where he is more hands-on apparently – have held on to their stars – his place in London has three! – it’s clearly not that the chef has lost his touch.  It that he was out of touch with the New York place.

If your name is on the product, you need to be involved and maintain the standards that warranted your name on it in the first place.  When people knock on your door, they see you, not the landlord, not the builder, not the cleaning crew, not even the people who actually do the work.  You.  I’m all for meeting the customer expectations that my name engenders.  Aren’t we all?

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