Oh, everything could be so beautiful in culinary Germany: Never before has the Guide Michelin awarded more restaurants in its current edition. At the same time, ambitious high-flyers like Thomas Imbusch in his 100/200 Kitchen or Billy Wagner at the Nobelhart & Schmutzig with new gourmet concepts.
So everything good on the cooking front? By no means!
Many top gastronomes give up
According to a recent GASTROFIX research, more than a dozen of the 300 restaurants awarded one or more stars by the Guide Michelin in November 2017 have already closed, lost their star chef or opted for a new concept away from the star circus. These include such illustrious names as La Vie in Osnabrück (formerly 3*), Dallmayr in Munich (formerly 2*) and the Speisemeisterei in Stuttgart (formerly 1*).
What’s more, the luminaries on the stove now even feel compelled to criticize themselves publicly – either the government or society itself. Particularly impressive to read with Christian Bau in his much-noticed interview with the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung on the occasion of the award of the Federal Cross of Merit.
But what exactly are the problems that top gastronomy is currently groaning about?
Lack of skilled workers threatens entire industry
The War for Talents, which is becoming more and more brutal, is the undisputed number one, and has meanwhile reached top gastronomy with full force. There is hardly a gourmet restaurant that doesn’t place job advertisements on its website today – on its homepage, mind you. That even renowned gourmet temples have to compete intensively for qualified young talent – unthinkable until a few years ago.
Nevertheless, and this is the good news, top restaurants in this country still have a right to exist. However, in order to set up the business even better and make it more crisis-proof, it is advisable to follow a few tips.
5 tips for top gastronomy:
1. Inspire staff
Let’s be honest: gastronomy, with its ungrateful working hours, below-average pay and limited opportunities for advancement, is not exactly one of the most popular sectors on the market for young people. This is also shown by alarming figures from the Vocational Training Report 2018, according to which every second trainee who wanted to become a chef or restaurant specialist drops out.
This makes it all the more important for catering companies to inspire those who are nevertheless interested in a career in this field with attractive working time and remuneration models and to retain them for the long term. By the way, this applies to the entire range of gastronomic offers, i.e. from food trucks to system gastronomy to star restaurants.
2. Optimize processes
Actually, this should apply especially to top chefs: Cooking is creativity, cooking is passion, cooking is art. Unfortunately, however, cooking today often also means economic uncertainty and too little time for guests. However, there are now numerous tools and services that can be used to effectively counteract this. Many processes – even in star restaurants – can now be digitized and thus optimized.
A digital POS system, which provides helpful evaluations of important key figures in real time, can also help. For more information, please read our current brochure for top gastronomy.
3. Minimize No-Shows
I’m sure it’s already happened to you: A guest has reserved a table including a large 7-course menu. And then he canceled it half an hour before – of course with great regret and several “unfortunately”. You had already planned for the guest, bought the expensive goods or even cancelled the table for other interested parties. Especially in the fine-dining sector, where casual customers are in short supply, this is a nuisance without equal and also extremely damaging from an economic point of view.
Therefore: Jump over your shadow and tighten your reservation conditions! When making a reservation, have a credit card number given to you from which a no-show fee may be charged. Or you can ask for a deposit when you make your reservation. Alternatively, a phone call in advance, whether everything will remain as discussed, sometimes works wonders. It is perhaps not particularly nice opposite the guest, can save you as an operator however cash money. And: This practice is also becoming more and more popular with guests. Important: Communicate this new regulation beforehand in a friendly but determined manner to all guests, e.g. on your website.
4. Economical thinking and steering
With 300 restaurants all over Germany, more restaurateurs than ever before adorn themselves with a Michelin star. Actually a great thing. However, more and more excellent restaurants are using it to vie for a stagnating customer base. While prices of several hundred euros for opera tickets and football tickets have become the norm in Germany, such amounts often seem too expensive for a meal. Despite excellent cuisine, many restaurateurs are therefore unable to keep their restaurants in the black.
For you as a top gastronome, it is important to inspire people with enthusiasm for upscale cuisine and to clear up prejudices. While the star chefs in recent years have honoured themselves with the most unusual creations at moon prices, they have forgotten one thing: the guest. Why don’t you serve a refined potato soup instead of Japanese Wagyu beef, because regional trends are currently very much in vogue. Due to the usually lower value of the goods, you can also call up lower prices, and this with an increasing contribution margin. Regional, close to the guest and still high quality – this is what the star cuisine of tomorrow can look like.
But sometimes, as a restaurateur, you come to a point where you have to face the truth: The restaurant, in which so much sweat, money and passion are invested, simply doesn’t pay off. In this case you are faced with a choice: either close the business or find an alternative way to finance your “baby”.
This is where cross-financing comes in. So you are building up a second business segment in order to put the restaurant on a sound economic footing. The possibilities here are endless and range from adjoining hotels or campsites to cooking courses and the sale of your own spice mixes. Be creative with this choice, so that you can continue to live out your passion. Luck on!