Restaurant 101: Bummer.

I was skeptical about the reality competition show “America’s Next Great Restaurant” from the first episode. Not only could they not manage to spell restaurateur correctly , they were not really talking about opening a restaurant. The fast-casual concepts they were exploring all fit much better under the category of Fast Food.

Even so, anyone who has ever opened a restaurant knows that a new concept is rarely profitable within the first 6 months. You are still figuring out your operations, how much staff you need on certain shifts, what items are going to be your best sellers, etc. The news that the ANGR investment team has closed all 3 contest-winning Soul Daddy locations after being open for only a month and a half just seems…. bizarre.

Shuttering after 6 weeks?

Either this was the plan the whole time, or something crazy happened behind the scenes. When things aren’t profitable after 6 weeks, you change the management, you alter staffing levels, and you negotiate with the vendors that supply your costliest products. If you are truly invested in making a concept work, you take more than 6 weeks to build business.

The saddest part of this is story is that winner Jamawn Woods seemed so emotionally invested in the win. It was “his dream” to open these places, to “show his kids what is possible in life,” and now he’s supposed to head back to his old job in Detroit?

It’s just sad. But Woods came from the automobile industry– he’s accustomed to dealing with adversity.  While I was skeptical of the show, he always seemed like a genuinely great guy pursuing the most American of dreams; owning his own business. I hope he lands on his feet.

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