Monday, May 17, 2010

HFF Rant: Arbitrary Hours

So it's 9:30 on a Sunday night. I have a friend in town who just drove down from Northern California. We're hungry. We want to show him the town. First stop? A restaurant favorite of mine that's billed as open until 10PM. We get there? Locked up shut. Closed with a capital Q. Okay, fine. Understandable. Pretty close to their closing time and it was a Sunday night so they closed early. Fair enough.

Next stop? A wine bar in Downtown LA. Their hours are advertised as "daily from 11:30AM to late." That's the business equivalent of the high school party invitation: "9PM-???" Holy shit! Our party's so crazy we don't know when it's going to end! Except you're a business. You should know when your party's going to end. And when you advertise a post-11PM Happy Hour with drink AND food specials, perhaps your kitchen shouldn't be closed before 10PM. That kinda makes as much sense as a platypus and have you seen a fucking platypus?

Restaurants are not businesses to be run on whimsy. Unless I can see a restaurant's open sign from my window, I'm not going to drag my ass out to a restaurant that may or may not be open. Pick your hours, advertise them, and stick to them. That's how you'll build a loyal clientele. In a business full of flakes, reliability and consistency can go a long way to establishing your reputation.

And come on, a restaurant that's known for being open late--that makes a name for being open late--that advertises being open until late--and is shut down by ten o'clock? That's lame. If I'm hungry at say 11PM on a Tuesday, where am I going to go? The place that I know is open or the place that might be open? Even if I might prefer the second restaurant, I'm going to go for the first restaurant so I don't end up wasting part of my night.

Restaurants are not that different from any business. Success isn't rocket science. It's producing a quality product for a good value that people will enjoy. Google can't just decide to stop working because not enough people are googling and a hospital can't stop administering aid because not enough people are getting shot in their neighborhood. Restaurants can't just decide to close an hour early because, well, they just fucking want to.

It's bad business and will equal a failed restaurant.


NoraP said...

For possibly the first time, I have to whole heartedly agree with everything you wrote on this tangent.

David J.D. said...