There’s nothing quite like a hot spot restaurant. The air seems to sizzle with energy; everything is just a little bit more vibrant, more beautiful, more interesting within its doors. To a restaurant owner, this is the ultimate dream: to have customers lining up for a slice of their establishment and culture. But how do you create such a space? What separates the hot spot with a line down the door from the quiet place down the street that is never more than half full?
The making of a hot spot restaurant is the culmination of many different things. While it can be argued that there is an element of luck thrown in, nonetheless, there are specific and tangible steps that you can take to put your restaurant in the best possible position to become a hot spot. Here, we’ll discuss some of those attributes and how to attain them in any restaurant, regardless of the concept, city, or cuisine style.
10 Attributes of a Hot Spot Restaurant. If you want your restaurant to be the next “it” spot, be sure to cultivate these attributes in your establishment.
A killer concept. The first aspect of creating a hot spot restaurant begins long before you open the doors, way back when you’re creating your business plan. A restaurant’s concept is the heart and soul of a dining establishment. Be sure to think long and hard about what your concept is and really refine it before you even open the doors. A restaurant that it secure in its own identity is attractive to people. It also helps create a compelling “story” and customer experience, which is a key component in creating a hot spot restaurant.
Be different from the rest. Once you’ve settled on a great restaurant concept, it’s important to hone your vision so that you can define what makes your restaurant different and special. You want your restaurant to be unlike anyplace else.
To clarify, this doesn’t mean that you have to serve a fusion cuisine that is way different from anything else that has ever been done. It’s fine to be serving Italian comfort food. But if there is another establishment in the area also serving similar cuisine, figure out how to differentiate your establishment. This will help customers choose you rather than seeing you as one of many similar restaurants.
Good social media presence. Marketing is particularly important for restaurants, and these days, it’s all about social media. From the get-go (before you open your doors), cultivate a social media presence. This means having your username reserved and ready to go even before you open for business. Once you are open, post reliably and consistently, using your channels to promote specials, events, and to just generally remind customers to come visit you.
Feel like you might need some help getting the ball rolling? Check out this helpful post on ways to promote your restaurant using social media.
Attentiveness to customers. When customers come in through the door, they should be greeted immediately with respect and warmth. You want people to feel like they are being welcomed to the hottest club in town, not like they need to impress the host or hostess. Snobby service is never cool; attentive service will always start customers off on the wrong foot.
Even if your restaurant is busy, customers can be made to feel welcome by being invited to take a seat at the bar until a table opens up. Attentiveness like this can make the difference between a customer staying and checking you out, and leaving to spend their money elsewhere. Attentive, quality service will help your restaurant become more successful over time.
Professional service. A well trained, high caliber staff is one of the not-so-secret components of a successful hot spot restaurant. When staff is trained well, they are able to perform their jobs more efficiently, which means that they will sell better, move tables faster, and make the restaurant more money.
Professional, high quality service leaves a positive impression on customers, and makes them far more likely to give your restaurant repeat business. It’s worth taking the time to properly train your employees; it will put them in the best position to help make your restaurant a success.
A great look. Your restaurant’s look matters. Be sure to reflect the restaurant’s concept in your overall look, from the wall decorations to the seating to the tables and fixtures. It’s fine to have a unique style, but make sure it is a pleasant space for customers to come and spend time. Avoid restaurant decor cliches!
In addition to the look of the physical space, pay attention to the look of your employees. Outfitting your employees in uniforms or customized aprons can create a polished, professional look. When your restaurant has a polished look, it conveys an air of professionalism and polished success. This is impressive and attractive to customers, who will be attracted to your space subconsciously as a result.
Amazing food. Remember: food is actually the main reason why people come to your restaurant. Even if your restaurant has an awesome interior and amazing service, you’re never going to attain hot spot status without amazing food.
Do your homework before settling on a menu: work with your chef to create a well-balanced menu that reflects your restaurant’s concept and your chef’s strengths, but also allows plenty of options for different palates. Once you’ve settled on a menu, learn how to create your cuisine consistently and efficiently. It will be a huge contributor to your restaurant’s success.
The right location. Location isn’t everything, but it’s awfully important for a restaurant. If you want your restaurant to be popular, you’ve got to be smart about your location. In general, important factors include that your restaurant is in a high-visibility area, is easy to locate, and provides ample parking. Now, these things can vary depending on your geographic location: for instance, in a big urban city like New York where people largely take mass transit, providing parking isn’t quite as important.
But moreover, you want to choose a location that is prominent and easy to find. You don’t want people to give up on your restaurant because they can’t find you! Because while it’s true that out of the way spots can become hotspots, it’s definitely the exception rather than the rule.
A positive customer experience. Focus on delivering the best possible customer experience to your patrons. The ability to deliver a great customer experience is the culmination of many of the other attributes of a hot spot restaurant, including well-trained servers, a balanced, thoughtful menu, great food, and a pleasing restaurant interior.
People come to restaurants to treat themselves, so treat them like your guests. Respect the fact that they are spending their hard-earned money with you. When customers feel respected and appreciated, they will flock back, and before you know it your restaurant will be the hottest spot in town!
Good management. What does good management have to do with your restaurant becoming a hot spot? Everything. When a good restaurant manager is in place, all of the systems run more smoothly, allowing the staff to work in harmony and for the establishment to truly cater to the customers.
The effects are far-reaching, but in particular, the improved caliber of service improves the customer experience. This not only boosts sales and keeps customers coming back, but it can lead to positive reviews and word-of-mouth suggestions, which can increase your business in a huge way. Ultimately, good management can help make the difference between a restaurant that merely survives and one that thrives.
Conclusion: While there is no single formula that will guarantee that an establishment becomes a hot spot, there are certain steps you can proactively take to put your restaurant in the best possible position to attain such status. By taking the time to create a unique, high quality restaurant with vision, creativity, and fantastic service, you’re investing in the possibility that your restaurant could be the next big thing.
Which of these attributes could your restaurant use work on to attain hot spot status?