Recently I was at the launch of a new guide for the hospitality business by Ferran Adrià and the El Bull Foundation called Food and Beverage, ‘Guide to Manage Drinks in a Restaurant’. For anyone in or thinking about getting into the restaurant or bar business this guide is a ‘must read’ as it highlights the need to have a realistic business model and strategy for all to follow.
In the view of Ferran Andrià the next revolution in the restaurant business will not be in the kitchen but front of house. It was refreshing to hear one of the most renowned chefs in the world says this because most of the time those working on the floor of the restaurant are not recognised for the crucially important role in the success of the restaurant.
To innovate you have to create, which involves taking risks and overcoming failures along the way. Within a year of opening, 50% of new restaurants close and a further 22% in the second year. Few business sectors, if any, have such a high rate of failure. For the majority of restaurants and bars the best outcome that owners can expect is to make a salary rather than a fortune. Yet many are ready to invest their money, time and energy into a new restaurant venture in the belief they have something different and better that will be loved by the public.
This guide focusses on all drinks, from water to cocktails with a strong focus on wine. At my wine school we teach professionals about wines of the world and this guide highlights the importance of better planning, preparation and communication when deciding what drink to offer.
Wine is an essential part of any meal and choosing the right wine will make the flavours work better. In Adrià’s view ‘wine is magic, it is an ingredient that can also be a drink’. He spoke about the physical sensations we get with wine. Sight, smell and taste are a much more complex than just sniffing and swirling. It is important for professionals to understand why and how each element influences the whole experience. He went on to say that to create a wine list there are sixty factors to take into consideration
In general restaurants are not good at communicating with the consumer. Most wine lists tell the customer nothing, it assumes a high level of prior knowledge. This is where this new publication is a good reference book for those who want to improve and given the rate of failures, it is so obvious to me that better education in how to run a business with wine is a fundamental part to communicating and improving the customer experience.
There was a lively conversation about the margin restaurants put on wine, which in most cases is prohibitive in getting people to try different wines. He was quick prickly in defending the 300% margins restaurants typically put on the cost of a bottle saying that the costs of running a restaurant justify the margin. If it is such a cost, why do more restaurants not consider letting customers bring their own wine and charge a fee for corkage? Less cost, less pressure on cash flow, fewer suppliers and inventory. It’s just a thought but it could work in many establishments.