For me, my girl Madonna is the ultimate example of renewal. Every album (or CD depending on your age) has a new sound, a new persona, a new image. From the black lace material girl to the torpedo bra to angelic mystic with long flowing robe, she has spearheaded new trends over and over again few years. In this case, evolution is very much about renewal.

However, restaurants can’t handle changes like this and here’s why, it would be too confusing if they redecorated and changed their concept every other year. Guests wouldn’t know what to believe in and would lose faith in the quality of reliability of the experience. But restaurants can, and should, take advantage of opportunities to renew and refresh regularly – updated and clean décor, seasonal menu items that reflect the seasons and good looking and appropriate service staff that match their concepts. Regular renewals and refreshes make for great marketing opportunities to bring back repeat guests and bring new ones in!

New makes news – so as long as restaurants keep to their concepts this works. For instance if Scala’s Bistro in Union Square, SF decided to add a mushroom menu for the season –it would work if the dishes were Italian inspired. Guests like to be adventurous but at Scala’s they want their mushrooms in a great pasta. As trends change it becomes necessary to change with them. Apple martinis, once all the rage, are now dated old things that people make fun of (I hope I am not offending anyone here). Burgers once banished to bar menus and fast food joints have crossed the threshold onto the best fine dining menus. I love the burger at Grand Café in SF. As the popularity of small shareable plates and casual places have grown, savvy restaurateurs have introduced cost-conscious flexible menus that appeal to new diners with different budget parameters.

For restaurants, it is important to stay abreast of these trends and analyze how they could work for their guests. Just because sushi is the rage, guests don’t want it when they go out to their favorite French spot. Renew within reason –and the rewards can be great.

About The Author

Prior to opening Andrew Freeman & Co., a full service boutique consulting agency specializing in hospitality and restaurants in 2007, Andrew started his career working with several legendary New York venues including The Rainbow Room, The Russian Tea Room and Windows on The World. In addition to running the day to day marketing/public relations activities at these famed New York restaurants, Andrew was also responsible for the creation and management of their special events and catering departments. At all three venues, he also launched and then oversaw successful outside catering businesses. Andrew left New York in 1997 and departed for San Francisco to join Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. He spent ten years with Kimpton, launching over 40 hotels and restaurants as well as the global brand. For his first five years with the company, Andrew was first Director and then Vice President of Restaurant Sales and Marketing. In this role, he worked with the restaurant team on the creation, launch activities and marketing/public relations programs for the group’s chef driven restaurant concepts and private dining venues. He was then promoted to Vice President of Public Relations and Strategic Partnerships for both the hotel and restaurant divisions. In this role, Andrew was responsible for strategic development and execution of all public and media relations activities. During his tenure Andrew also spearheaded several programs with industry and community partners including Kimpton Cares, a social responsibility program and Kimpton Hotels LGBT travel program which has garnered numerous awards and positioned Kimpton as one of the Top Companies for LGBT employment. Andrew also contributed to the launch of Kimpton’s highly successful Women in Touch program which became the spring-board for their national partnership with Dress for Success, an organization which helps low-income women enter the workforce and excel in their new jobs. Today, Andrew Freeman & Co. is busy consulting hotel clients, Hotel Shattuck Plaza, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, The Lodge at Sonoma, The River Terrace Inn, and Bay Area restaurant clients, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, Barbacco, Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar, étoile at Domaine Chandon, ETO, Fifth Floor, Grand Café and Poggio. Andrew Freeman & Co. is also proud to be an intricate part of SF.Chefs.Food.Wine a food and wine event that celebrates the unique flavor, diversity and bounty of Northern California. The annual event incorporates tasting tents, classes, seminars and an array of activities while supporting local charities such as the San Francisco Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, The Golden Gate Restaurant Association Scholarship Foundation and Project Open Hand. Andrew is honored to have also worked with JW Marriott/Marriott, Larkspur Hotels, Magnolia Bakery, Personality Hotels, the Palm Restaurant Group, and W Hotels. In 2009, Andrew Freeman & Co. launched a New York City office and is proudly serving clients including Pranna, Incentient and David Burke Restaurant Group. Andrew also works with a variety of clients on sales and service training, as well as concept development and operations refinement.

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