You are an entertainer, not just a restaurateur
Facts are indisputable. They don’t care what you think about them, because they’re facts. It doesn’t matter if you agree or not. Here’s an indisputable fact: You and I are both in the entertainment industry. We are entertainers. Yes, we’re in the food industry and have to worry about cleanliness, food cost, labor and a bunch of things differently than an actor would. But we’re both in the same industry, and that’s entertainment. My accounting, probably the same as yours, codes the general ledger entry for meal & entertainment on the same line. Even the IRS believes what we do is for show more than necessity.
Restaurants are not necessary. Food is 100-percent necessary, but a restaurant is something superfluous — fun with entertainment value. Customers want to spend their disposable income on meals that delight their senses and are not limited to taste, but also the visual appeal of beautiful food. They want to be waited on by someone that is genuinely warm and kind, i.e., excellent service. All these things, along with well-executed marketing, create purchase pride, the feeling you want the customer to WANT to pay for. Everything needs to be entertaining and appealing for that purchase pride to occur.
If we were in the sustenance business, then we’d serve things assembly-line style like a cafeteria. Sustenance alone does not make for a restaurant. So that begs the question, is everything that we are doing entertaining? Is it pleasing to the eye? Does it make people feel good? Does it bring joy? If everything just exists and the M.O. of the pizzeria operator is, “What do you want from me? I just make pizza,” they might as well just make pizza and serve it in a cafeteria and have the same level of customer service and sales that a cafeteria does, i.e., not much.
Everything must entertain, have a wow factor and be impressive. If it’s your end goal to “Just make pizza,” then you can do that alone and let your fate be up to chance. To be successful, especially in the world of competition that exists today, you must be more than a basic pizza maker. You must put on a show with yourself center stage, making pizza with everything else supporting that narrative in tandem. The entertainment industry, just like the restaurant industry, is not glamorous. It looks like it’s glamorous, just like the stage lights look exciting, but if you’ve ever gone backstage, you see it’s a small dingy place predicated on making what’s seen to the end customer glitzy and fun, just like a restaurant.
Again, our job is not necessary for survival. Sustenance can be achieved via protein bars and water. For someone to spend their disposable income with us, the call to action needs to be more than convenience and nourishment. We need to be showmen. I stop and analyze every aspect of Andolini’s every day and ask: what about this is fun? What about this makes someone feel good? And if it just exists, then it’s not good enough. If a pizza box doesn’t have a joke on it, if the menu isn’t visually pleasing, if the chairs don’t feel right or look bland, then I’m messing up, because I’m not providing an entertaining experience.
How can you do you more to entertain as well?
Mike Bausch is the owner of Andolini’s Pizzeria in Tulsa, Oklahoma.