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The old adage is that 90% of independent restaurants fail in their first year. Actually, according to this 2005 study, it’s closer to 60%, but regardless: the restaurant business is a tough, unforgiving and often unpredictable beast.
While there are no guarantees in the restaurant business, there are, according to Michelin–rated chef David LeFevre (as told to Vice Munchies), certain best practices that will help you to push your restaurant beyond its five-year anniversary, as he has just done at Los Angeles’s Manhattan Beach Post.
Here are LeFevre’s five tips for running an enduring restaurant:
Be involved in the interview process
LeFevre ensures he is personally involved in the interview process of every member of staff employed in his businesses (he is also co-owner of the nearby Fishing with Dynamite and The Arthur J restaurants). “The impact of surrounding yourself with great individuals in this industry is crucial to your happiness,” says the chef. “The level of satisfaction that you get when the people around you really care and have the same values ... is a game changer.”
You don’t know everything
“I love our pastries and I love our bread program but I thought it was important that we brought in someone to lend a more creative side to those things. Realising this allowed me to grow personally as it challenged me to learn a lot more about bread,” says LeFevre of his decision to hire an executive pastry chef.
Photo: Manhattan Beach Post
“What do we need to do to be better than we were yesterday?” he asks. LeFevre admits this mindset can be “exhausting to everybody involved” after five years and that he is never completely satisfied, but after all, “this is a lifelong pursuit.”
Learn to teach
LeFevre regrets having not spent more time in his early years learning how to pass on knowledge to others: “Looking back, 10 to 15 years ago, if I were to focus more on knowing how to teach better instead of just cooking better, it could have been really beneficial to me.”
Remember the basics of hospitality
Okay so you can’t give each and every diner a personal thank you note, but the basics of good hospitality should inform everything you do. “The times that I’ve been the happiest in restaurants have been when I really felt, 'Wow, these people really care about making me happy,' says LeFevre. “This is the main difference between having a memorable experience and a not-so-memorable experience at restaurants, in my opinion.”