This Foodie Friday, we’ll return to the land of Top Chef. Not only is it my favorite show on TV (House of Cards isn’t really TV now, is it?), but it almost always inspires broader thinking about business for me. Last night was the conclusion of the annual restaurant wars competition in which two teams of contestants have 24 hours to conceive and execute a restaurant. The losing team (and they really did deserve to lose) made some key errors, from which I think we can all learn a couple of things.
First, their menu had no focus. Some of it was Asian inspired, some of it was Italian, some of it was influenced by the chef’s ego and nothing else. There was no cohesiveness to the meal. Any restaurant – and any brand – makes a promise. I like this explanation:
A strong brand promise is one that connects your purpose, your positioning, your strategy, your people and your customer experience. It enables you to deliver your brand in a way that connects emotionally with your customers and differentiates your brand.
With no focus to the items being served, there was no connection – emotional or otherwise – to the diners. The next issue was execution. As incoherent as the menu was, had the dishes been prepared extremely well and had the service been spectacular, the dining experience might have been saved. Unfortunately, most of the dishes the losing team served were awful, led by a salad of strawberries, pickled cucumber, roasted beets, and arugula with a strawberry champagne gazpacho. The gloppy “gazpacho” was more like a desert sauce and the judges hated this dish. There was a pork belly served in a consomme that apparently was almost all vinegar. You know there is a problem when every shot of someone tasting it shows them looking like they’d just bitten into a lemon.
Great execution can make up for many flaws. That too is part of delivering on the brand promise. I’ve certainly been to restaurants where the food was just ok but excellent, personable service and reasonable prices made it someplace to which I’d return.
It’s one thing to make a promise. It’s quite another to deliver. Are you doing that?