The Restaurant Rules

In the Sunday Times recently food critic AA Gill positioned himself as Moses on the Mount and laid out his Ten Commandments for ‘profitable dining’ aimed at restaurateurs. To name but a few:

1. Do not open a restaurant because you love feeding people and want to welcome them to your place. It’s a business, not a party.

2. A restaurant is a factory – dishes must be repeated to perfection ad nauseam.

3. Every facet of a restaurant that can go wrong will go wrong – it’s an expensive business.

4. It’s a delusional business – no chef eats his own three-course menu and no manager eats in his own dining room.

5. Restaurant PR is a waste of time and money.

6. Location means nothing. If it’s good they will come. If it’s bad, they won’t.

7. Restaurant success is a complete unknown – there is no formula, no rules – it either goes right – or it doesn’t.

And so on and so depressingly on. And yet, despite the forbidding nature of the beast, being a restaurateur is an itch more and more of us need to scratch. How else to explain the continued popularity of shouty John Torode and Greg the Egg on Masterchef, the recent scathing Winner’s Dinners and even the seminal Come Dine with Me? For, despite the notorious hard work, long days (and nights), financial pressure and lack of social life involved in any career in the restaurant trade, it’s still a dream for many aspiring cooks.

Just take a look at the rapid popularity of underground dining. You don’t just hold a dinner party any more (so passe darling and so 90s), but you must be seen to be more ambitious, throwing yourself and your tender culinary skills at the mercy of complete strangers. Pop up restaurants are just as hard work, if not more so, than the static type, but are fast becoming a cliche as barely a week goes by without another popping up in some godforsaken riverside wharf.

So would you ever succumb to the dream and what would be your dream restaurant? Have you ever held an underground dinner in your lounge? Or – on the other side of the serving hatch – what would be your top rules for restaurants as a consumer? Are there any recurring faults you’d like to wipe from the menu? Shout out now or forever hold your peace.

  • Emmy Stewart

    aa gill just wants to attract attention, but more importantly, for those who might be interested in the subject of food bloggers, you might need to read this: http://tinyurl.com/3tgdzkf
    This should be the standard, the rule in food blogging.

  • John

    No background music, unless it is The Beatles 1962-1969 only

  • Gordon

    My 10 rules for restaurants, in no particular order

    Rule 1. Do not play the same CD over and over again, in fact do not play an album of the same artist. I don’t like michael Buble….I can put up with one track but i don’t want to listen to his whole f***ing album.
    Rule 2. Do not bring judgment with the ketchup. Or mustard. Or hot sauce. Or whatever condiment is requested. . . its my meal I will eat it with whatever i like.
    Rule 3. Unless asked, do not mention the tip, and do not turn on the charm when it’s tip time. Be consistent throughout.
    Rule 4. Do not smoke on duty and do not try and cover it up with cheap perfume. (it makes the smell worse)
    Rule 5. Never say “I don’t know” to any question without following with, “I’ll find out”
    Rule 6. Get a website, keep it simple and keep it up to date, I do want to see your menu and prices before I visit. But no I dont want a flash movie, I don’t want 2005′s menu & prices and no I don’t want to download PDF’s.
    Rule 7. Mark out on the menu which choices are suitable for vegetarians and which one contains nuts. I prefer not to guess.
    Rule 8. Keep the kids happy and entertained and the adults will return.
    Rule 9. Keep your regulars happy and acknowledge them, occasionally give them a free drink or dessert. They will continue to come back and spend more.
    Rule 10. If I book a table for 6pm make sure it is ready for 6pm, I don’t want to eat at 9pm.

  • R,

    So agree with Ski Bunny! Its so easy to smile, be pleasant and follow a few simple service rules. Great service definitely takes the sting out of a bad meal. If waiting staff interviewees clearly have no personality then dont employ them! they can go and debone chickens in a norfolk factory. The problem as i see it is that many restaurateurs/chefs cook the food they want to. Whether its suited to the local population or not. Oh and AA Gill is the daddy.

  • Ski Bunny

    Rule Number 8: Train your waiting staff. There is such a world of difference between a friendly, professional and knowledgeable waiter or waitress and the sullen plate carriers that you so often encounter in UK restaurants.