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From Scratch:

Launching a successful independent restaurant
requires hotel owners to carefully examine their goals


By Megan Sullivan
Lodging Magazine

January 2013

Finding the perfect hotel restaurant match involves soul searching, “first dates”, compromise and trust, in order to build a healthy and successful business relationship.

“Without the trust that you’re both in it for the same reasons with the same objectives, then it becomes adversarial,” says restaurant, retail, and foodservice consultant Arlene Spiegel. “The last thing you want as a hotel owner is to have an adversary living in your ground-level retail environment.”

There is no one-size fits all solution for owners who are hunting for the right food and beverage operation to match their properties. Property owners who want more control over the customer experience might consider implementing their own restaurants. Building and operating a unique restaurant can help a hotel enhance its brand while reaping all the profits. Another option for owners who don’t have a firm grasp on the demands involved with operating their own restaurant involves leasing out their ground-level space to a skilled executive chef. That way they can still count on the safety net of a monthly rent check.

“My restaurant clients are always open and ready and willing to go into a hotel situation. They love it,” says Spiegel, a third generation restaurateur and founder and president of Arlene Spiegel & Associates and Hospitality Matchmaker. “There are built-in guests to the restaurant, common area parking and facilities, and the build-out is usually less expensive because the infrastructure, the mechanicals, the engineering, and the plumbing are usually already in place.

“It’s very often not just about money,” Spiegel adds. “It’s really about the restaurant brand and the hotel brand enhancing each other to go to a different level.”

By conducting a feasibility study, foodservice consultants like Spiegel can determine the best solution to reduce risk. For example, would the owner prefer to focus on marketing, occupancy, and community outreach, becoming the business hotel of choice, or hosting special events for leisure travelers? “Once you determine what the goals are of the ownership,” she says, “then you can start narrowing down and filtering what their best options are.

Generally speaking, Spiegel would choose control over guaranteed rent. “Even if you bring in a high profile celebrity chef it does not guarantee that what that chef wants to do is going to resonate with the guest. Nor will the chef necessarily be flexible because of egos or his own brand positioning to maybe come up with some more pedestrian culinary offerings that the hotel needs but the chef doesn’t want to stand behind,” she says.
 
Complete Control
Launching an independent restaurant involves more risk and investment, but allows hotel owners to mold the concept to their needs. In some cases, the chef may act like an independent owner but is actually an employee of the hotel.

“The upside is that when you create your own concept, you really have the most control,” Spiegel says.

Outsourcing Operations
Of course outsourcing operations to an independent restaurant brand or operator requires extra time and effort to develop the relationship and maintain flexibility, but it often results in a happy marriage for both parties. “You get the rent but you also get somebody who’s invested in making that restaurant successful and has the most flexibility along the course of that lease to make sure that the food and beverage is in alignment with the hotel owner’s goals,” Spiegel says.

Most hotel restaurant lease-out deals involve a partnership with shared objectives and rewards. For instance, the base rent might be low and then the hotel ownership would share a percentage of the profits. “That’s kind of the best scenario where everybody has so-called skin in the game,” Speigel says. Then the hotel’s sales and marketing team can collaborate with the restaurateur to bundle packages and weekend getaways that include a brunch or arrival dinner. For their part, maintaining separate operations of the hotel and restaurant allows both parties to each focus on what they do best.

Published with permission by Arlene Spiegel & Associates. The original article in its entirety may be viewed by clicking here:
http://www.lodgingmagazine.com/PastIssues/PastIssues/From-Scratch-2626.aspx


About Arlene Spiegel & Associates
A full-service restaurant and hospitality consulting firm that creates or finds radically differentiated branded restaurant experiences for owners; hotels; entertainment, cultural and academic venues; casinos; corporate foodservice; real estate developers; and retailers. Please visit www.arlenespiegel.com to learn more.


.
Contact:

Arlene Spiegel & Associates
345 East 73rd Street/6H
New York, NY 10021
212-628-3232
917-539-9469
arlene@arlenespiegel.com
www.arlenespiegel.com


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