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When your Restaurant gets a GREAT REVIEW....What do you do with it?"

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Chef Joe DiMaggio Jr. recently received an awesome writeup for his restaurant in NY.

It's not the first time this has happened. I'm certain it won't be the last.

Understand, Chef Joe has fed the Clintons, The Rolling Stones, the bands at Live 8 in Dublin and so on. He's designed and opened restaurants all over the world so you can imagine how deep his portfolio is.

Getting a good review is one thing. It's free publicity and generates interest in your restaurant. Usually this results in a honeymoon period of increased traffic and hopefully the new fan base will tell all their friends...and so on, and so on, and so on...
But...is that all? Does the story end there, only to become a distant memory? A dusty framed cutout hanging on a wall in the lobby?

It doesn't have to be.
(More on this in a moment, but first...the review)

This is a link to the review. Original text is below.
<a href="http://api.ning.com/files/X2-Euk-wTY...hefJoeD.doc">3 Star Review Chef Joe D.doc</a>

An APB—All Palates Bulletin—is hereby issued to fans of creative, top-quality and value-packed Italian food. Report at once to Zanaro's in the White Plains City Center. Attention must be paid to the kitchen's new commander, who is turning the four-year-old restaurant in a former bank on its savory ear. This bank returns your interest with a delicious payout.

Almost 300 guests may be seated under a 40-foot ceiling in a David Rockwell-designed, balconied “villa.” Up to 16 patrons may dine inside the villa's vault.
Zanaro's chef and managing partner, Joe DiMaggio Jr., is so gifted—and his food so captivating—that I could not wait to revisit this 17,000-square-foot extravaganza to see if everything was as good as the first time. It was.
Credit Zanaro's owner, restaurant entrepreneur Zane Tankel (Applebee's franchises, Chevy's), with luring chef DiMaggio—a distant cousin of baseball's Joe D.—to White Plains. For a Glen Cove native whose early years were divided between Long Island and Italy, the siren song of the kitchen came at age 9. He saw an Italian chef driving a Ferrari.

Chef DiMaggio now alternates between a Ferrari and a Corvette after helping to build hundreds of restaurants around the world.

At Zanaro's, he harnesses a passion for food and art in a “recession proof” menu. He attributes many recipes to his Italian grandmothers—one from the north, near Como, the other from Sicily. A Bolognese sauce of three meats simmers six hours before additions of cognac, tomato paste and 75 cloves of garlic. This is for tossing with rigatoni and stuffing mozzarella-covered hot peppers.

Chef DiMaggio makes sure farmed rabbits are fed a diet of juniper berries, sage and apples for seven weeks before delivery.

Zanaro's bakes everything on premises, including toothsome ciabatta bread that's sliced and garlic-oiled before being crowned with imported Sicilian tuna, white beans and capers, or with grilled shrimp, basil and cherry tomatoes. All soups are made to order, including one of (Grandma's) all-time great pasta e fagioli.
First-course dishes ($5 to $14) include salads with imaginative dressings, such as tangerine vodka and tarragon (no fat). World-class creamy polenta is slathered with wild mushrooms and shallots in veal demi-glace hyped with dry Marsala, artichoke ragout and molten provolone. It is among the best $9 values anywhere!
Another stunner is a trio of plump, butterflied shrimp, pan-seared under butter, parsley, lemon, white wine, garlic and olive oil.

Zanaro's Neapolitan-style 12-inch pizzas and generous pastas continue the quality beat. Pizza in Purgatory sports poached eggs and spicy pepper oil in addition to San Marzano tomatoes, basil and Romano cheese. Artichokes, cara-melized onions and sautéed spinach are among seven items on the crisp, thin vegetarian pie.
Many items are prepared and served in black clay pots made by the La Chamba Indian tribe in a small village visited by the chef in Colombia. They provide a homey backdrop for the likes of seafood fra diavolo, braised short ribs over pasta or bone-in chicken scarpariello with sausage and peppers. Chef DiMaggio's crew has a wonderful way with fish of all kinds, creating mojito sauce for swordfish, cooking sea bass in a miso crust and adding wild mushroom fumé, and giving tender diver scallops a flavorful crust.

Italian desserts don't normally rate raves, but Zanaro's do. Lemon-coconut polenta cake and chocolate-hazelnut napoleons are mind-blowers. There is also a superior tiramisu as well as a yummy ode to Almond Joy candy bars.
Here is food as we want and need it today—great tasting, comfort-steeped and priced right. Friendly, knowledgeable servers and awesome surroundings complete a compelling package.

NY food critics and writers are notoriously stingy and infamously harsh. Chef Joe effortlessly managed to charm and dazzle his way to a positive writeup. The food sold itself to the writer, obviously.

But that's only the first half of the book.
It's a lot like the dog that finally caught the car.....now what does he do with it?

How do you take the gift of a great review for your restaurant and turn it into long term success?
Will framing and hanging it in the lobby do anything to drive traffic? Probably not, since those customers are aready there! For them, it's just something to read while waiting to be seated.
Perhaps you'll see some new faces, but more than likely, you'll never find out why they came in the first place.
To me, this alone, is a lost opportunity.

There's been some great discussion lately about knowing your customers.
I believe that anytime you see unfamiliar faces in your restaurant, the guests should be engaged. You already know your regulars and they know you.
I love it when I'm asked if this is my first time at X location. I love it more when the Hostess, Manager, Server (especially the chef) inquires as to how I decided to dine there.

This tells me they are focused on knowing who their customers are. "We are thrilled you're joining us tonight. How did you hear about us?"
This simple dialogue makes me feel special and welcome...and that is part of the 'experience'.

As an operator, you should be best friends with every hotel lobby staff within walking distance (or short cab ride) to your location.

Think about creative ways to get your review published in their hotel guide.
If possible, try to get your customers email address. Don;t just email this weeks special offering...it's boring...and everyone is doing it.

Instead, mix it up a little. Send out updates on your charitable activities and community support projects. Maybe do a kids chef cooking class once a month.
Talk about your Great American Teach-In presentation...takes pics and small video clips....and share it with your customers.
...and, of course, blog about it on Cheftalk and other social media hubs.
Engage your customers and turn a positive into a home run!

Now, my question is;
"When your Restaurant gets a GREAT REVIEW....What do you do with it?"
post #2 of 5
Sell it in as many ways as you can, when I had a restaurant my website had a page called "reviews" including links to every website I could find that had reviewed us, our website brought us in a lot of business. I also used local advertisers magazines, newspapers etc. and designed the ads with quotes from reviews, just one phrase or sentence, it does the job and gets people talking. You are right there is no point in displaying it inside the restaurant, but outside yes I would. Getting them in the door is key (pardon the pun) and you have to do it in every which way you can.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Good points Bazza.
If you have a book style menu, what do you think about putting them on alternate pages? Too tacky?

BTW, my father is from Seven Oaks...nice part of the country
post #4 of 5
You have to run with it, strike when the iron's hot. Now's the chance to get other papers interested and to get the TV stations all hopped up. No one wants to take a chance on an unknown, so if you get a good review in a fairly well circulated publication, milk it for all it's worth, do not let it wait.

Media has some pretty funny concepts about the food business. In my area I found out the hard way that no daily newspaper will do a write up unless:

A) You have a prepared press package to give them and are awilling to pay a fee


B) You advertise with the paper

Good press reviews can dramatically boost a resto's sales. The editors and writers aren't eejits--they want a piece of that profit. Either they charge for a good review, or they get commission from the advertising.

Kinda like that bumper sticker from the '70's: "Cash, grass, or azz, no one rides for free"....

Again, the caveat here is these things only happen around here, can't say what it's like in other cities or even across the border in the States.

If you're new and don't have a history, you won't get any write ups (at least in my area) No writer will want to come and visit unless he has another write up/blog/article/twitter to go by. Again, as I stated above, no one wants to take a chance or spend time on an unknown.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #5 of 5
Know when to walk away. A good review is always wonderful to get and its natural to want to post a copy on your menu board, lobby, etc. Just remember to not fall in love with your press clippings. A glowing review that greats customers that is a year or two old is fine, but over time can come to look rather pathetic. One of the first fine dining establishments in my city was fortunate enough to get a rave review from the NY Times in its early years. They flogged it for all it was worth. For years. And years. After a decade, a generation of dinners, it didn't promote the restaurant any more. It said that they peaked in 1989 and haven't moved on since.

Now, if you've got a string of reviews, that's a little different. That can show a continuum of quality, and help create a sense of legacy. Run with that.

I can't help think about a resto next door to our place. They've got a stencil on the door that says "voted best Sushi 2004". That's five years. Will it still be there in 2014 ? Would'nt that pose the question to a customer "who's the best now?"

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