Depending on which research you believe, 60% of new restaurants close within the first year of business. Or 90% do. Or 17% do.
The point is, restaurants are risky businesses. And also, researchers make stuff up.
There are so many ways for a restaurant to go wrong. In fact, one blogger, whose primary language is possibly not English, has posted “10 Ways How Restaurants Failure Can Be Avoid,” and goes on to list eight potential pitfalls, which means he’s not that great at math, either:
- Low start-up capital
- Poor knowledge about competition
- Wrong location
- Poor restaurant promotion
- Inconstant offer
- The bad partnerships relations
- Poor inventory and staff management
- The lack of original ideas
Interestingly, the two problems that would immediately come to my mind, namely lousy food and bad service, don’t even make this guy’s top ten. Or eight.
I can understand some of the items on his list, although I would still contend that all the start-up capital in the world won’t overcome your very original idea of Scottish/Asian fusion cuisine if your customers have to wait an hour and a half to get their sweet and sour haggis, and it comes out overcooked (although I’m not sure how anyone would know).
What’s painfully obvious to anyone even remotely considering a start-up in the guest services sector is that there’s more than enough things that are screw-uppable without going out of your way to invent additional things you can screw up.
Nevertheless, some restauranteurs do exactly that, creating what in tennis would be called unforced errors.
Take, for instance, the new barbecue place that recently opened where I used to live, the quaint town of Irvington, NY.
The place is called Revenge Barbecue, and it has both a 4.5 star Yelp rating and an odd sense of humor. While most places are content to just have a menu in their window, Revenge Barbecue has a sidewalk chalkboard on which it posts, instead of the day’s specials, attempts at levity. One day, when it was about two degrees outside, the sign said:
TIPS TO KEEP WARM:
1. EAT BBQ
2. PUNCH A NAZI
I should point out here that Irvington is a suburb of Manhattan, and is not exactly overrun with master race types. I lived in Irvington for almost 30 years and I don’t know where I would find a Nazi there even if I did want to punch one. You know, because I was cold.
In other words, Revenge Barbecue isn’t displaying a great deal of bravery by declaring its anti-fascist stance in this location. It is not putting itself in danger of any putsch-like retaliation.
On the other hand, WTF?
What exactly is the intention of the owners (a couple named Jacob and Catherine)? Are they subtly informing Jews that it’s safe to get food from their establishment, even if it’s probably not Kosher to do so? Are they expressing their opinion that delivering an uppercut to a skinhead will be more satisfying if your knuckles have barbecue sauce on them?
But here’s the real question for Jacob and Catherine: In what conceivable way do they think such a sign will help their business? “Hey, honey, I feel like ribs tonight. You wanna try that whack-a-Nazi place?” Can you imagine even one person who wouldn’t have otherwise gone to Revenge grabbing some pulled pork there solely because of its cold-and-Nazi-beating advice?
What I can imagine is at least one person not eating there because of that sign. I can imagine it because that one person might be me. And here’s the weird thing: I can’t even tell you exactly why.
I mean, I certainly share the sentiment if not the call to violence. But there’s just something so absurd about the message. Is somebody punchworthy just because they’re walking down the street with a swastika t-shirt? What about an NRA t-shirt? Or a “Trump 2020” t-shirt.
Do they deserve to be bitch-slapped just because of their beliefs, however misguided they may be?
I guess I’m saying that the sign is unAmerican. In fact, it’s something a neo-Nazi restaurant would put on a sign, except it would say “Punch a Jew.” Or maybe the punchee would be gay, or an offensive slang word for an entire group of people.
Um, okay, maybe “unAmerican” isn’t quite right. It’s just stupid, is what it is. Which, unfortunately, makes it very American. The only way it could be more American is if it said “Shoot a Nazi.”
That’s why I wouldn’t eat there.
And if the loss of my patronage isn’t enough to put Revenge Barbecue out of business, its hours of operation might. It’s only open four days a week, and it closes at 7pm on the days it is open.
I guess Jacob and Catherine are out punching folks after 7.
See you soon.