You? Really? Yes, you.

You, as a consumer, will play as large of a role in what the future of restaurants looks like as the restaurateurs themselves.

How do I know? I’m a restaurateur myself. I am the proprietor of Preux & Proper in downtown Los Angeles.

The conversation we’re having now has been a long time coming. I’ll be the first to say that I wish I had the courage to reach out to you years ago. I’ve never given you enough credit. See, I’m a people pleaser. Most of us are. It’s love of people, more than food, that drew me to the hospitality industry. I love serving you. I love celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and holiday parties with you. At some point though, something changed.

I began to be motivated by fear instead of love. I was more worried about disappointing you than I was running a profitable business. The results were catastrophic.

I extended hours of operation beyond the scope of demand.

I created promo after promo trying to create the best deals in the city.

I refused to increase pricing, even as our cost of goods skyrocketed.

I overstaffed daily to avoid getting caught off-guard with an unexpected rush.

What I should have done was reach out to you. You’re reasonable, I know you are. I should have explained what I was struggling with and worked towards realigning your expectations. I didn’t do it then but there’s no time like the present…

Here’s my dream for my restaurant. To begin, my entire team needs to be paid a living wage, be supplied with health benefits and a retirement plan. Our responsible food sourcing practices need to be maintained and improved and we need to continue the journey towards becoming carbon neutral. No one in the restaurant should be working more than 50 hours per week and everyone should have two days off, back to back. Our hours of operation should reflect consumer demand so that may mean we drop back to five days per week. Most importantly, the restaurant needs to be profitable. Not by the industry standard of 6 percent, but by the global standard of 15 to 20 percent.

What does that look like for you? Prices will increase, hours of operation will decrease, specials and discounts will become less frequent and our menu size will shrink. Sounds like a nightmare, right?

Not if we work together!

You can play an active role in pricing, hours of operation, what is discounted and what items remain on our menu. Together we can chart a path forward that works for both of us. I believe that if we work together, there’s nothing we cannot accomplish.

This is the first of many conversations we’ll have over the coming weeks and months and I invite you to take part in this new social experiment.

Welcome to FULL COMP, a podcast charting a new path forward for the restaurant industry.

We host thought leaders and visionaries that offer insight into their past, the lessons learned and what the future of the hospitality industry could look like, viewed through the lens of the guest’s own life experience.

If you’re passionate about food or the hospitality industry, help us build a better tomorrow. We chat every Tuesday and Friday. Click here to join the conversation.

LA Weekly