Lookin' Good at 58

Friday, January 9, 2009

Restaurants of the Future?

The other night at work I was speaking with a customer which is quite a rare thing for me as I rarely have the time to engage in interesting conversation or I find the people rather uninteresting to begin with. But this person who is an experienced chef and has travelled around a bit fixing and designing food menus up is opening a business in the near future.

What it is going to be or how he described it to me is people are going to be able to go in one door , order their food which I didn't go in great detail with him , and then pay for it and leave. In other words rather than it be a drive thru like all the donut shops of the world are now , it is going to be a walk thru. There will be no sitting area , just a line of people ordering stuff and walking out with it. Now I suppose him being a classical chef and all it will not be your sandwich fare but then again I cannot see how you can cook something up pronto like Steak Diane done medium in a couple of minutes.

His reasoning for opening something of this sort is with very little overhead and it being basically two employees the opening investment of $50,000 can be quickly recuperated within 3 months. He knows of only one other restaurant like this and it clears between 20-$30,000 a month. I guess a $1,000 a day is realistic.

So from what I gather this might be only be salad , soup , and sandwiches and it might only be a day time operation.

However we might feel about something like this it serves some important needs and it takes eating out to a new level. Albeit for me a scary one.

First with such little overhead , the prices must be reasonable and with less disposable income to go around people are looking more and more for the best deal. Second the issue of time comes into play with less of it available to most when even the time to pack a lunch before heading to work is passed up. So a good lunch ends up to be some greasy , fat food instead. So the issue of time and diet is dealt with in a positive way.

Environmentally there is a plus as well as no cars will be idling in long lines as they do in drive thrus right now. Some cities are starting to hate the line up of cars so much they are starting to ban drive thrus right now. This restaurant you will have to physically walk in. This also may encourage people to actually physically do something for them self by walking for their food each day.

So you have value for money , time , environment , exercise , and diet rolled up in one.

The big disadvantage is if the world just becomes a big walk through my job as a waiter has vanished!

But tell me isn't the job of an experienced waiter vanishing already. No matter how much experience you have accumulated over the years we are being replaced by the waiter of today who wears a microphone and who takes your order over an intercom then a couple of minutes later hands you your food and collects your money.

All the attention nowadays is to get whatever someone orders into their hands as quick as possible with as little attention to service as possible during the process. Trim the staff and other overhead as thin as possible so the owner can pocket as much as possible. It is almost so simple the service nowadays that anyone can do it.

I am saying it is gone from the gueridon service where showmanship and professionalism mixed with experience got you a great waiter position like back in the 70's to now where a majority of people are working the microphones in drive thrus. You now see a lot of seniors working as waiters to do something part time in their retired years who have never had experience doing this sort of work.

So my question is , are the days of Fine Dining over for most places within a few years when they will only be used for special occasions like weddings , birthday parties and christenings and will the walk thru become the way of the future in the next 20 years?

Who knows with the high cost of everything a restaurant owner has to endure to make an operation profitable the a la carte restaurant may just be a thing of the past in the near future.


How to Get Your Food Spit In said...

Wow. This would decimate the service industry. I don't see it happening right away but, if it eliminates overhead and ultimately increases profitability for corporate chains, I could see it happening.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

How to...I don't think it will take over but will be another alternative down the road. Who knows , but I think the landscape of dining has been heading toward that for some time now.

bulletholes said...

Nah, Waiters and good service are like Frank Sinatra...they will never go out of stylen and you just can't replace them.
I know, someone is out there right now wondering who Frank Sinatra is....but they are the ones eating at walk thru Restaurants!

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Bulletholes..yah you are right. Good waiters are fewer and fewer found these days though I found but so are the fine dining places at least around my area.

bulletholes said...

Kinda depends on what you call a good waiter and Fine Dining...
Here in Fort Worth, for years there was only one Restaurant to go to...Cattlemens Steakhouse.
These days there is a whole section of restaurants downtown...from del frisco's to Ruth chris to Brazilian Chupadupacherios or what ever they call 'em.
We even had 3 "Keg and Cleaver's" down here for a while...I worked for them and have been to the Kegs in Sarnia and Toronto to train.
They are far from fine dining, but the servers, good or bad, are an integral part of the experience.
Always will be.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Bulletholes...for sure. In fact I work at the Keg.

bulletholes said...

I wondered if you might. I still have a Keg Dollar. I worked for them from 78-82.
Executive Chef was Kurt.
Can't remember the Presidents name, but we drank a few bottles of Dom when i was in toronto and went to some Disco. I had my girlfriend with me and she was a hit!

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Bulletholes...I kinda thought you might have known of them a few comments ago. The Keg is recession proof. Everywhere will be dead but the Keg is always busy. And they are okay with me as I can fit my schedule pretty good so I am not killing myself to make a buck. I got two young ones I like to spend some time with. Cool.