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Letter of the Week – An Open Letter to the Overly Ambitious

The trouble with empire-building chefs is, they want the same level of respect and adoration for their tenth restaurant as they got for their first one. – ELV
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Dear ELV,

You used to love my restaurant, but ever since we expanded to multiple locations, you have gone out of your way to ignore us, and, even worse, to diss our operation at every turn. I know you had a bad experience lately, and we know we dropped the ball, but won’t you give us another chance?

Signed,

Eagerly Awaiting Redemption

Dear Overly Eager,

Here is the problem: good restaurants and chefs and owners build up a level of trust, affection and respect with the public and press when they are pouring all their energy into the excellence of their product.

Then, they often get bored, switch gears, seek expansion, try to get rich, or do a variety of things to keep their heads and wallets in the game. When that happens (and it happens much to soon and with alarming frequency with American chefs and restaurateurs) the same level of devotion starts to fade.

What replaces it is a devotion to making money.


Then, when someone calls them on certain details not being the same, it seems like an insult, when really it’s only pointing out the obvious. In other words, those same operators want the same level of respect for their product from the public and press, even though they’re not paying the same attention to quality control they used to.

You have made no secret of your expansion plans, and I say bully for you, but when I see a new (and decidedly amateurish) crew at your restaurant, and experience un-trained service, unseasoned food, a bad _____ AND an atrocious ____, I am left with the inescapable conclusion that your and your chefs’ attentions are being focused elsewhere.

Believe me, I want to love your place, but a restaurant is only as good as its weakest day, and there’s no reason for me to believe that your operation [the one that I once praised so highly] is still receiving the attention to detail it once did. Thus, I see no reason to return.

I’m sorry if this seems harsh, and I wish you well with your brand expansion, but once replication starts, your product will always lose a bit of soul and a lot of credibility with writers like me….especially when coupled with a “dropped the ball” disappointment like the one I had.

Best and bon appetit,

ELV

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2 Responses to Letter of the Week – An Open Letter to the Overly Ambitious

  • Part of the problem is that all too often Chefs and Restaurant Owners view constructive criticism as an attack.

    When someone responds with “you have gone out of your way to ignore us, and, even worse, diss our operation at every turn. I know you had a bad experience lately, and we know we dropped the ball, but won’t you give us another chance?” they’ve already put up a defensive wall that tells me they aren’t open to the truth. It should never get to that point.

  • Akin to Night Clubs, they recoup their and make profit in the in the first six months or a year and then they have to move on to the next gimmick or the unsuspecting town and start all over again. Then there is always the Food Channel.

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