Re-branding a Restaurant After a “Bomb”

The food industry is ruthless. Foodie consumers like none other are more than willing to be vocal about their experiences. If enough of them compile in the public sphere we now call the internet, restaurant concepts can quickly find themselves out of business. That does not mean the chef or restaurant owner is out of ideas.

A formidable restaurateur can evaluate the challenges from their last experience and create a new concept that makes more of an impact than the first was ever equipped for. However! There are a few musts that need to be in place for this new plan to succeed.

The Obvious

Change the name and the logo
This one doesn’t need much explanation. If you survived one failed restaurant concept, you will probably be the first one brainstorming new ideas, so this is not a place we need to spend time. Just make the new name and logo distinct enough that it is not easily confused with the old concept.

Interior decorating
If it is in the budget, hire an interior designer to come in and offer a consultation for how you can make changes to the facility. If a designer is not in the budget, use pinterest to create a vision board of restaurant designs you like. Identify specific elements and aesthetics you like like faucets, bathroom designs, floor tile, and utensils. The whole bit! Because the restaurant is in the same place, you will want to recapture some of the same local and walking traffic that visited the previous establishment. If this group of people gives you another chance, you will want them to know they have walked into a different place.

The Not So Obvious

Hire an entirely new staff if…
In many cases, you will not have to clean house so to speak, but the role of your staff in the challenges with the previous concept will let you know if that is something you need to consider. Read your yelp reviews, see what people harped on. If there are a ton of mentions about poor, slow, or flat out rude service, you know you have need of new staff. Firing is not always pleasant and sometimes not feasible. Regardless of your final decision, it may prove worth the extra effort to hire a customer service training company to conduct a significant amount of training for your existing staffers. After that, but before you officially open, you can evaluate the staff in a monitored scenario to see who stays and who gets released for their next opportunity.

Yes,you are being graded — But only on three things
Food, booze, and service. That’s it! When new and returning guests enter your establishment, regardless of how pretty the decor, the logo, or the view, if those three things aren’t all checked in the 100% column, you may be on the path to repeated mistakes. With that in mind, get input from the demographic you hope to serve. Get your family members and friends together for a group dinner, have your servers serve, your chefs cook, and your bartenders tend. Set the music the way it would be on a Thursday night, and set the lighting the way you think it will be. When it’s over, ask questions, write down the responses, and then incorporate the best (and most repeated) suggestions. After that, do it again, but for the friends and family of one of your employees this time. If more suggestions are made, do it again for another employee.

Yes, this will cost you time and money, but if you work out the kinks on friends and relatives you won’t get dinged in the public sphere, you will expose people to the new concept before it officially opens, and you will make your staffers feel like an important part of the team — all invaluable things for a relaunching a successful concept.