The best in town? Or the also-ran?

Tei-An Japanese Soba HouseBusinesses start because they’re good at something. The best businesses grow and prosper because they become good at everything.  Most business people know where their weak spots are.  The best business people do something about them.

I’m reflecting on two of the restaurants I visited in Dallas on a recent weekend.  One of them is one of the best in our area. There’s a reason so many guests in the dining room were pulling out their cell phones and taking pictures of their food.  It’s not that they’re restaurateurs who are stealing ideas. (Yes, I’ve seen that plenty of times.) It’s that the food is so special, they want to remember the experience and share it with their friends.  The atmosphere is unparalleled — unique, calming and beautiful. The service is knowledgeable, warm, and patient in explaining a menu that can be complicated and unfamiliar.  It is not the best of locations and many neighboring restaurants have failed. Their reservation book is full at the beginning of August, one of the slowest times in Dallas for restaurant traffic. They are doing so many things right that I can only imagine how much more success they would enjoy in a location with actual traffic.  If you are guessing which restaurant it is, yes, it’s Tei-An.

At another restaurant, we had no trouble getting in. There were plenty of tables at a time when their competitors were on a wait. The atmosphere was the main draw for us.  The design is current and the environment is among the best around. The quality of design is something that we typically see in major cities. It just feels good to sit in that restaurant.  The service is fine. Their location is good, arguably better than Tei-An’s One Arts Plaza.  So why could we just walk in and take our pick of so many tables.  Because the food is just OK.    If it were great – they would be packed, too.  They have multiple concepts and the same analysis applies to all their stores.  Great atmosphere, good service, food . . . just so-so.  The name of that restaurant is . . .

I will leave it to you to guess because I don’t like to call out restaurateurs who, no doubt, are working hard.  Perhaps they may become my clients one day.  You are welcome to comment with a guess, but don’t expect me to tell you if you are right!

So which do you want to be: the Tei-An of your segment? Or that other place? Be proud of what you do well, be candid about your weak spots, and get to work on improving.