This is Richard Melman, founder of the Chicago based multi-concept restaurant group…Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises with over 120 restaurants in operation now and several more on the drawing board.
The conversation, at times, sounded just like a couple of guys who haven't talked in awhile. Each reminiscing about the old days. But there are also peeks into how the mind of this very creative and successful restaurateur views surviving and flourishing in a very tough industry.
Well…your back in action now aren't you. Your dining room can be loaded up the way it used to be over a year ago. Your relieved that you made it through with a little help from the government. Your landlord may have worked out a deal to let you pay off un-paid back rent. And it was the good will of the loyal customers who called every night for a pick-up or delivery order that kept the lights on and some of your staff employed. But there are some other problems nagging at you that came out of left field and caught you unaware and without a plan.
The staff you were hoping would be itching to get back to work has vanished. The ground beef you were buying a year ago March is now 50% higher than it was then and your supplier can only bring it to you once a week because he doesn't have enough drivers to cover the regular routes.
So you can't bring all the tables back. You need to re-price your menu to cover the increasing food costs. And the menu needs to be reduced because you don't have enough hands to produce all the wonderful food that made up your menu. There are answers, we just need to keep swinging for the fences and we'll find them.
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