Why do restaurants reinvent themselves?

There is something that most restaurant kids know. When a restaurant reinvents itself, it dies. When I see a restaurant “reconcepting” I can see its clock ticking. Not to say that people havn’t succesfully reinvented themselves, it’s just incredibly hard.

Lets put it this way, someone opens a restaurant. They are going to put a ton of effort into defining what that restaurant is. Everything from the menu to the decor, to the staff is important. They are building a relationship with the community and setting a standard for who they are going to be.

This manifests itself in a lot of different ways. It could be a beautiful restaurant worth milliions shooting for a michelin star. Or it could be a hot dog stand, just wanting to dish up late night snacks.  It doesn’t matter, the idea is the same.

You find your community, you invest in them, they invest in you. It’s how it works.

So why reconcept? What is the point?

There are a lot of reasons people reconcept. The biggest one is money.  A restaurant booms when it opens, everyone wants to check it out. It makes a ton of money. But after a couple of months, or even a year popularity wanes. There are other restaurants, new things.

So when a restaurant isn’t making as much money. Maybe they’ve become stale, They’ve waned on maintenance, they havn’t pushed to bring people in or to keep regulars, bad management of inventory and costs (labor, food, booze). The upper management freaks out. They start asking everyone why this isn’t working. Why we stopped making as much as we need to.

When no one answers they have a couple of options. They can bring in someone outside to look at the business and find what is wrong and fix it. or they can double down and reconcept.

Reconcepting is shutting down for a short period of time to remodel and refine (or completely change) what you tried to do in the first place.

It’s expensive to reconcept. It’s a hail mary. Papa roach, Last resort.

After you reconcept there is an uptake in business, people want to come and see what you’ve done. Shortly after that they realize that nothings really changed, and to make things worse, you lost what little life you had.

There are exceptions to this, and there is a whole group of restaurants that use this as a marketing strategy to drive buisiness!  We’ll talk about this in pt 2. which should be up tomorrow.

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