Getting Chefs Out of the Kitchen to Enhance Customer Relationships

“Wait just a minute. Did I hear that right? Why would the chef need to leave the kitchen?” While the chef’s primary duty is making absolutely delicious dishes for eager guests to enjoy, it could also be beneficial to let him or her be the face of the restaurant.

Outgoing chefs can connect to their patrons in many different ways, which has been shown to be helpful in almost any type of restaurant setting. Chefs who engage with restaurant guests tend to bring in more repeat customers, and can help motivate the rest of the staff.

Communicating with Patrons – Reaching Out Online

Many celebrities have Twitter or Facebook pages where they post to keep their fans updated with their daily comings and goings. A chef can do the same thing and possibly assume a kind of local celebrity status. He or she can post daily specials or just favorite dishes, new cocktails, or restaurant news. If the restaurant already has a social networking site, consider entering a post from the chef every now and then. Followers will look forward to hearing from the chef, and may also be able to give him or her valuable feedback.

For lengthier, more detailed outreach, chefs could consider blogging. They can post information about new dishes, or even old favorites. Some may even post more personal things like pictures from a recent trip or an entry about what kind of music they like to listen to while cooking. Anything that pertains to the chef’s inspiration for cooking could be interesting to curious patrons.

Restaurant owners may also consider putting out a periodic newsletter in which the chef might contribute articles about seasonal dishes or wine pairings for signature menu items. Many restaurants send out an e-newsletter to save on paper and postage expense. Of course, it is important for the newsletter to be well written and have an attractive layout. The content should be such that those who receive it look forward to it, and do not view it as another piece of junk mail.

With either a newsletter or a blog, restaurant guests would get to know the chef, in a way, and feel like part of the restaurant’s own community. Restaurant owners should be prepared to go this extra mile to turn their patrons into regulars. Guests will return to a restaurant where they feel like they belong.

Making the Rounds

While all of those online connection ideas could be extremely beneficial, there is no substitution for a chef just stepping out into the dining room and meeting a few guests. This will give the chef the opportunity to get a genuine idea of whether people are really enjoying their meals or not. Also, guests may enjoy asking the chef questions about the food that they probably would not ask their server. In restaurants where the chef is also the owner, meeting with the guests can give the owner a chance to connect with all sorts of people in the community.

Also, the chef’s presence in the dining room will allow him or her to connect more fully with servers and other employees at the front, which can be both encouraging and motivating to the rest of staff.

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One Response to “Getting Chefs Out of the Kitchen to Enhance Customer Relationships”

  1. Catering to the New Affluent Consumer « Jim Balis' Blog Says:

    […] the last blog, Spending Patterns of Affluent Consumers, we discussed how spending patterns of affluent consumers have changed as well as why they have remained lower than they were before the recession. Mostly, […]

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