business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Washington Post reports that "even with this summer’s surge in restaurant patronage, more than half of 4,000 restaurant operators surveyed in September by the National Restaurant Association say that business conditions are worse now than three months ago. They cite higher food and utility costs and supply-chain problems, but the biggest issue, restaurateurs say, is lack of staff … Nearly half of the restaurateurs in the NRA survey said they were not yet operating at full capacity, because they aren’t adequately staffed.

"Owners have to abbreviate menus to accommodate fewer cooks, and they have to limit dining room capacity because of fewer servers, according to David Portalatin, food industry adviser at the NPD Group. Owners have to shuffle workers around like chess pieces between curbside service, outdoor dining, the bar and the dining room, sometimes going without hosts, bussers or bartenders."

KC's View:

The question of what is essential is one that restaurateurs have to consider along with everyone else in retailing, it seems to me.  To some extent, I think that this is a question that potential restaurant patrons may be asking themselves, as they think about the costs implicit in going out to dinner (and, in many cases, suffering sticker shock).

Maybe it is better to have six great offerings on the menu that really differentiate a restaurant.  Maybe it is better to spread out one's best by having a more robust take-out offering, and maybe even a market that sells recipe ingredients.  

Such alternatives won't work for every business in every place, but I certainly think that restaurant owners need to start thinking about these questions.