By Scott Mechura EBS Food Columnist
In my previous article, I pondered whom would be the chess pieces running a successful restaurant. Logic would dictate that the public, or your guests, would be the opposing side. So who are they?
King – Health inspector: You don’t see them all the time and they don’t move excessively. The king doesn’t contribute much to your strategy in terms of winning the game, but if they’re captured it’s game over. Similarly, when the health inspector shows up at your door, they don’t do much for your success, but if you have major issues or violations, the doors close right then and there. Game over.
Queen – Food critic: Much like the power of the health inspector, it is swift and potentially severe, but critics can also be your greatest assets. Like the queen, food critics move everywhere. They are out dining and writing multiple nights a week. Should they choose to pen a positive critique about the chef or restaurant, it’s good news for all. A poor or scathing review doesn’t mean you’ve lost the game, but there will be days you wish you had.
Bishop/Rook – Regulars: They are local and patronize your business frequently throughout the year. Regulars, just like bishops or rooks on the chessboard, are valuable to your business. They can be a challenge at times, but you appreciate them every time they come in. Not unlike a “whale” in the casino world, if these players are happy they often bring caches of friends, family, and acquaintances. Like their chess piece counterparts, restaurant regulars are predictable in their movements, but offend or disappoint them, and they leave along with everyone in their world.
Knight – Unpredictable guests: They move in an odd, L-shaped pattern, much like the guest who is semi-regular and doesn’t seem to have a pattern to their special requests. They may want a vegetarian meal tonight, but when they visit you a month later they order a steak. A week later, they return on a cleanse and you can’t figure out how to feed them – or why they went out with such dietary restrictions. There’s just no telling which way they are going to move.
Pawn – One-time visitors: These are your random one-time guests and tourists. You value their business and patronage, but you know that no matter their experience, you may never see them again. They make up the bulk of your daily business and come and go, but feed them cold food or give them poor service, and they’ll tweet, post, Instagram, Yelp, and advise the whole world on the car ride home.
John Q. Public is an appreciated, respected, well-informed and intelligent adversary.
Scott Mechura has spent a life in the hospitality industry. He is a former certified beer judge and currently the Executive Chef at Buck’s T-4 Lodge in Big Sky.