What does it take to be the best ?

What does it take to be the best ?

15th November 2023



The art of building a restaurant institution

 by Stephen Macintosh

There are hundreds of restaurants across the city that deliver core hospitality elements exceptionally well; they have a strong offering, a desirable fit out, and an outstanding level of service. Only a few, however, will still be here in 20 years… What does it take to be the best?

How can your restaurant become an institution?

So what’s the secret? A restaurant operator must be able to affect their guests. To do this, it must understand how people think and what moves them emotionally. Great food, decor and service standards can and will influence people, but over time they wane in importance as they become a basic expectation.


A restaurant has to recognise that its’ guests are deeply complex. We, as individuals, are very sensitive; we carry emotional baggage, egos, and the need for feeling part of a tribe. When visiting a restaurant, we can’t help but bring certain expectations. The greater the expectations, the more effort and attention to detail are required. An outstanding operator decodes and supersedes each customer’s unique expectations, in turn securing a repeat visit.

So how can a restaurant attend to each and every person’s individual expectation? Whilst achieving that 100% of the time may not be possible, to create an institution you must do this better than everyone else. Guests will feel where you are on the scale. Fortunately, there is some commonality in expectation: to be attended to promptly, and to be addressed in a personalised manner. A great restaurant operator will execute the above across multiple touch points in a service. The foundational strategy that has the power to significantly elevate the likelihood of a guest returning over time is to build the relationship. How? Simply by using the guest’s name.  

For something that seems so obvious, very few restaurants do this well. And why not? Because it’s very hard to do consistently. Think about it, every opportunity is there, and a wide range of technology is on hand to support those operators that can’t lean on the advantage of having a seasoned maître d’hôtel of 20 years. Using a guest’s name thoughtfully is a game changer. The operator immediately alters what could’ve been a faceless interaction between a restaurant and a customer, to a highly valuable one. It opens the door to a much deeper connection, and becomes a catalyst for that feeling of belonging and being part of the tribe that we all fundamentally seek. 

We have helped many high profile restaurant groups elevate their service through building meaningful relationships with guests. If you’d like to learn more about how our mentorship and advisory services can help you level up your dining room to stand the test of time, get in touch.

“What it takes to be the best”, an article by Stephen Macintosh, a hospitality leadership coach & mentor

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Lumiere Consultancy are a restaurant consultancy providing professional food and chef consultant services. Our Founder (Ben) has been in hospitality for over 25  years and is now predominantly based in London. Our key areas of expertise are full concept, property search, project management, menu design, operations and training. 

On our website you will find some really useful information in our Restaurant Strategy Projects and all our service related topics within Restaurant Consultancy.  We are an end to end solution for all of your hospitality needs. 

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