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The Term

In: Business and Management

Submitted By boxers4
Words 2133
Pages 9
Open for Business the challenges of running a casual fine dining establishment.
Boxer, Naor- Panther ID 1228549
“FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management- HFT4413 RVC/RPC”
July 16th 2015

Abstract
In this paper I talk about how a young man from Israel who really grew up with very little worked his way up in the restaurant industry and I go into detail on his many struggles and his many triumphs. I speak about how he worked his way up from line cook to restaurant owner, and what he is doing now in his own restaurant after working many years in other people’s restaurants. I speak about what he is doing to become successful and how he was able to turn his knowledge of the restaurant industry into a flourishing business. I go deep into the understanding of a kosher restaurant and how there is certain guidelines in the kosher food industry. I speak about his competitors and what he can do to overcome his short comings. Mikes burgers is a unique blend of fast food and fine dining and I go into that as well.

The restaurant industry is changing. As the world speeds up, people have less and less time to sit down and enjoy a meal with their families. What’s more, they want the food they do order to be cheap and quickly prepared. At the same time, there are dozens of restaurants opening all of the time, each looking for a competitive advantage over the other. Restaurants post deals on Twitter, and reach new potential customers on Facebook. They advertise on websites to reach a larger demographic they couldn’t in the past, while gaining a more intricate understanding of that demographic through the use of analytics and statistics measuring who in the area would want to travel to their establishment, and when. Mike Cohen opened Mike’s Burger’s in 2004 in an attempt to take on the many challenges these variables present. An analysis of Cohen’s shift from being a head chef to owning his own restaurant can help reveal the many factors that affect a restaurant’s revenue stream and success. First, this paper will lay out Cohen’s unique background leading up to the opening of Mike’s Burgers. Second, the paper will explore the financial challenges he faced in actually getting the restaurant to open and exist. Third, a thorough examination of the many creative choices that go into opening a restaurant will reveal that challenging customer’s expectations about what a restaurant should be can be a dangerous, but also beneficial component of increasing revenue stream. Lastly, the paper will evaluate how kosher restaurants grapple with this process in such a competitive environment. Cohen learned the ins and outs of the restaurant industry from the bottom up. In 1995, he started working as a line cook at Black Bar ‘n’ Burger in Tel Aviv and then bounced around to several other restaurants, such as Marco’s Deli and Let’s Get Some Pizza. He began working at Fresh Kitchen in 2000 and then left in 2002 to work at Pulse in New York City as a chef. He worked there for two years before deciding that he wanted to open his own restaurant. According to Cohen, he felt that some of the head chefs’ kitchen practices and customer service decisions in the other establishments he worked at were not how he would have done things himself had he owned those restaurants. Once this thought got into his head, Cohen said, he began to develop his ideal restaurant after work in a notebook he had scribbled “restaurant plans” on the cover. In 2004, he brought those plans to life when he left Pulse and opened Mike’s Burgers on Long Island. He has been there for 10 years. Mike’s Burgers is located on Central Avenue in Cedarhurst, New York. The street is very busy, and the sidewalks are filled with people shopping at high-end stores. Mike’s Burgers, for example, is sandwiched between a Morton’s Clothing Store and a Banana Republic. Inside, the restaurant is lined with four booths and five tables. It’s a small room, and Cohen has mounted mirrors on the wall to make it look bigger. The menu offers appetizers such as Beef Spring Rolls, Mini Empanadas, Crispy Chicken Fingers and Guacamole Nachos. There is a “Create Your Own Salad” section, as well as a short menu of different fries. Entrées include Baby Chicken Steak, Tender Grilled Chicken and Pepper Steak. There is also a Crispy Sandwich section and a Grilled Sandwich section. Cohen said he takes a lot of pride in his menu as well as the layout inside. This is Cohen’s first time owning a restaurant, which means he has run into his fair share of obstacles and pitfalls. First, he had problems with funding while trying to open the store. He purchased it $50,000 from a different owner, but had to put in over $25,000 in renovations, most of which he borrowed from his mother and his best friend, who was an investor in the restaurant for a long time. Most of the renovations involved ripping out the floors and putting in tile, installing more friendly lighting taking out a dry bar and replacing much of the plumbing in the bathroom. He was able to solicit another friend to invest in the restaurant last year when business was down, but Cohen said he will be the full owner by 2017. Once funding was no longer a problem, the largest obstacles Cohen faced were logistical — shaping a functioning business that also had lots of personality for the location he had chosen. Cohen said he wanted to open a restaurant that maintained the high quality culinary experience he had learned at Pulse, but in a more customer-service friendly atmosphere. According to Mandabcha (2011), beyond the customers themselves and the management of the restaurant, the product served is considered to be the most important when opening a restaurant (p. 77). This may seem obvious, but Cohen stressed the importance of creating a unique culinary experience. But these were factors Cohen also did not have as much experience with, and so he had to learn some of them on the job. According to Cooper et al (2013), there are three types of restaurants: The “gourmet or fine dining room,” which usually has white tablecloths, expensive food and low customer turnover; the “family, mid-size,” casual restaurant that appeals to “dual-career families” and people working long hours; and the “quick service or fast food” restaurant (p. 8). Cohen’s restaurant, however, is a mixture of all of these types of restaurants, which he said could be risky. But he also felt that it was necessary. He wanted to offer the quality of the gourmet restaurant, the atmosphere of the bistro and the speed of the quick service/fast food joint. That’s tough mixture to pull off, but Cohen thinks he has done it. His food is more expensive than average, and he said he certainly considers his food to be gourmet eating when it comes to burger foods. And yet his restaurant is also small, with only those 10 or so tables. This is because most of his customers want their food for pickup, and don’t stick around to eat their food inside the restaurant. This might seem like an interesting combination, but it’s a hard balance to maintain. If most restaurants are geared around one of these three types of restaurants, that means customers have developed a set of expectations over time about what kind of food they are getting. Because Cohen’s restaurant challenges those expectations, some customers may not be happy with the price, or the atmosphere or even the food. For example, he said he had a woman come in the other week who was upset about the price of the food, because she was expecting something cheaper given the menu style and other factors. She was basing her evaluation, Cohen said, on the fact that the restaurant did not have an atmosphere conducive to such prices. Research shows that the price of a product and service is an essential part of the hotel business, but it applies equally to restaurants. According to Hayes and Miller 2011, customers “perceive value and fairness” in the prices paid, which can make or break a customer returning for a second meal another time (p. 36). Contributing to these high prices is not just high quality meats and preparation, but locally grown vegetables. Cohen chooses to use locally grown fruits and vegetables, which he gets from the Linbrook farmer’s market. This store is only four miles away, but it costs approximately $20 more per shipment than it would to buy from other sources (p. 23). According to Matson (2013), local foods have become increasingly popular, and though it is more expensive to purchase food locally, it is also what many customers desire and one thing they are willing to pay more for (p. 23). Cohen hired ten employees. According to Mandabcha (2011), the restaurant industry is the second largest employer in the United States (p. 80). The second problem that Cohen ran into was keeping his restaurant kosher. There are very specific rules for food establishments to obtain and retain their kosher status. In the case of a kosher commissary, says Blech (2009), all processing equipment is isolated between two separate sections for meat and dairy, even with duplicate sets of equipment such as tables, dishwashers and ovens (p. 12). This equipment is color-coded, too. But Blech says restaurants have even stricter rules, and must choose a designation — either meat or dairy — known as Ba’sar b’Cholov — to serve their customers (p. 13). When a restaurant decides it wants to be kosher, Cohen said, it has to go to an organization that gives out kosher certification so their clientele know they are officially kosher. They have to pay quarterly for this $1,000. The organization has to come out and check all the restaurant’s products at random times just like a health inspector would. Restaurants must also have a supervisor of kosher food called a Mashgiach, who Cohen pays 20 dollars an hour to ensure everything the restaurant does is up to the standards of, in Cohen’s case, the Orthodox Union. Cohen only has one Mashgiach, but some larger restaurants have several who make sure the food coming in is kosher and up to the standards of the certifying company. According to Fishkoff (2010), another thing that Cohen had to worry about is that only 75 percent of the 1,000 agencies giving kosher certification today are considered “legitimate” (p. 70). But Cohen used Orthodox Union, which has a history of legitimate certification. As a result of these dietary restrictions, the price of Cohen’s food is higher than it would be had he decided to not serve kosher food. A Crispy Italiano Sandwich with extra Chicken, for example, is $12.95. But people who keep kosher are willing to pay more for that sandwich because they know kosher food is inherently more expensive given the higher standards it is held to during preparation. Cohen said he has competition: Amsterdam Burger, which has begun construction down the street. Cohen said he is still struggling to market his restaurant in a way that Amsterdam Burger will be able to. He doesn’t have a strong online presence, which is important for growth. Cohen says the restaurant does not have a Twitter account. It does have a Facebook page, but with 683 followers, there is only so much reach. The restaurant’s website — Mikeburgers.com — is still under construction. Cohen uses Open Table, but his restaurant has limited seating and is designed for takeout customers mostly, so it is not that useful. Instead, Cohen relies on the bustling street on which his restaurant sits, and hopes that he has measured the factors of the industry well enough to continue to survive for years to come.

Works Cited

Zushe, Y. B. (2009). Kosher Food Production, 12, 13.
Fishkoff, S. (2010). Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America’s Food Answers to a
Higher Authority, 35,70.
Inwood, S. M., Sharp, J. S., Moore, R. H., & Stinner, D, H. (2011) Restaurants, chefs and local foods: insights drawn from application of a diffusion of innovation framework, 23, 42.
Starobin, S., & Weinthal, E. S. (2010) The Kosher label, 201.
Hayes, D. K, & Miller, A. A. (2010) Revenue Management for the Hospitality Industry, 36,79.
Matson, J. (2011) Virtual Food Hubs Taps into Local Food Markets,23.
Mandabach, K. H., Siddiqui, M. S., Blanch, G. F., & VanLeeuwen, D. M., (2011) Restaurant Viability: Operations Rating of Contributing Success Factors, 77, 80.
Cooper, B., Floody, B., & McNeil, G. (2013) Start and Run a Restaurant Business, 8.…...

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