NEW ERA FOR RESTAURANT OWNERS
Creative Morning, Baltimore's presentation entitled "Collaboration!" was perfectly timed. Baltimore is a collaborative town, and the results are great for our community. Collaboration in Baltimore's food community is attracting attention by chefs and business owners in other parts of the US. During my Food Journey in the UK last week I wondered how the well-known foodie of Brighton UK is embracing collaboration. Last week I met Kanthi, owner of Curry Leaf Cafe and Olivia, Marketing Guru at Terre a Terre. I asked the question, "how well do the community of restaurant-owners collaborate in Brighton, UK?".
Both Kanthi and Olivia explained that there are, of course, established organizations. These organizations have memberships. Owners see very little incentive to join--expensive, lacking in creativity, and gimmicky were their reasons for not joining. So several owners simply created a loose association, and monthly meetings for themselves. It's main aim is sharing, and not forcing structure. Sharing creates a healthy community for owners and eaters, at least that is what they hoped. That is exactly what happened. Here are three benefits:
-- Improving staffing. In the UK right now, finding quality staff is difficult but sharing information makes it a little easier. When restaurant owners collaborate on a regular basis, job reference inquiries are simpler because the network of owners is already established. Asking other owners for qualified staff member to fill positions is easier has been another wonderful benefit.
-- Improving branding. Improving their marketplace by attracting ideal customers with good messaging is clearly the result of communication among owners. While each restaurant has it's unique mission, often young restaurant owners need confidence to stick to their original concept. More experienced owners happily share their experience, and teach the importance of good messaging. This is a fantastic and positive outcome of collaboration. Rather than being protective, owners see that the differences and nuances of each brand is not threatening. In fact it improves Brighton as a foodie destination.
-- Collaboration creates a new and positive environment for owners. Higher standards are set for the restaurant community in Brighton, UK. Cooperative spirit among the restaurant owner means each individual restaurant can stretch farther. And as the idiom says, "the whole, is greater the sum of the parts". Chefs and restaurant owners of London's best, look at what is happening in Brighton, and are impressed. Collaboration is improving the standards.
Collaboration and cooperative spirit present today is such a refreshing change over protective and closed business methods, just ten years ago. Let's hope it becomes common in foodie communities around the US, and around the world.