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Get Inspired by These 2 Restaurant Success Stories

Two different restaurants have similar elements to their success stories.

What makes a restaurant successful? Does your restaurant have that special recipe? In this article, we hope you get inspired by these two vastly different restaurants and their success stories. These are restaurateurs who’ve taken it to the next level.

First, let’s look at what makes a restaurant successful so you can better understand what these restaurants did right.

What Makes a Successful Restaurant?

The first thing you think of when recalling your favorite and most successful restaurants is they all have great food, a superb location, a nice ambiance, and great service. (tweet this)

It turns out these are only part of the reason customers flock to a restaurant. There’s so much more to make a restaurant really shine.

You need a strong restaurant identity and brand to stand out from the competition.
A well-thought-out business plan is also integral, as well as a marketing strategy.
It’s important to take care of your staff, hire right the first time, and retain your staff. You do this by being supportive, empathetic, and rewarding. A competitive pay schedule and benefits can also help.
Successful restaurants also have a strong understanding of their profit and loss statements.
You also need to know how to make your menu
The best restaurants also know their target markets and how to reach them.

These are just a few of the important pieces to making sure your restaurant is profitable and around for years to come. Now let’s look at some success stories.

#1: Chipotle

With more than 3,000 restaurants, this fast-casual chain is nearly a household name. Diners can depend on their healthy, fresh food for dining in or takeout.

When it comes to brand identity, Chipotle sets itself apart and is know for its wholesome food and dedication to sustainability.

Steve Ells founded Chipotle in 1993 and before that, attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After his education, he worked as a line cook in San Francisco and learned about burritos and taquerias.

After leaving San Franciso, Ells opened the first Chipotle near the University of Denver campus with a loan from his father. He knew he needed to sell 107 burritos each day to be profitable, and after just one month, he was selling over 1,000 each day.

Ells opened restaurant number two in 1995 using money from his profits, and he opened a third restaurant with an SBA loan, along with a $1.5 million investment from his father. Chipotle was well on its way when, shortly after, Ells created a board of directors and a business plan, raising even more money. Next up was the first restaurant outside of Colorado when Ells opened one in Overland Park, Kansas.

In 1998, McDonald’s saw the rise of Chipotle and by 2001 was its largest investor. Because of this, Chipotle expanded quickly. By 2006, Chipotle made its initial public offering (IPO), and on the first day, its stock rose 100%. In October of that year, McDonald’s divested from Chipotle and took $1.5 billion from its initial $360 million investment.

Recognizing a need for change, in December 2010, Chipotle hired a Rising Star Chef from the James Beard Foundation to develop a new cuisine. By 2023, Chipotle employed more than 100,000 people.

Why are they so successful?

Their motto is “food with integrity.” They are committed to serving ethically and naturally produced food.
Their small menu of just five items means they can stock fresh ingredients with less chance of food spoilage. They also need less ingredients, so they have less waste. A smaller menu also means faster service. Their kitchen doesn’t get overwhelmed, and mistakes are much less likely. Finally, their small menu means customers know what to expect every time they visit Chipotle.
They are consistent and dependable.
Chipotle is corporate owned instead of franchised, so they can maintain tight control over every aspect of their restaurants.

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One fast casual and one fine dining restaurant make their mark on the world.

#2: Le Bernardin

This restaurant has been a fine dining icon for over 50 years, and it was named the number-one restaurant in the U.S. and worldwide by La Liste. It’s an internationally acclaimed seafood restaurant by chef Eric Ripert and co-owner Maguy Le Coze.

Le Coze and her brother, Gilbert, moved to New York and opened the restaurant in 1986 in New York after they ran the Paris location for 14 years beforehand. It’s held numerous Michelin stars as well as other awards.

When Le Bernardin was born in Paris in 1972, they only served fresh fish. Earning their first Michelin star in 1976 and two more in 1980, the siblings were ready to move to New York. Gilbert unexpectedly died in 1994, and Le Coze began her partnership with Chef Eric, a friend of Gilbert’s. He continued the tradition to celebrate fish as the “star of the plate.”

Amazingly, The New York Times gave Le Bernardin four stars just three months after it opened, and the trend has continued for decades. Chef Eric also continues to win awards as does Le Coze.

In 2011, they redesigned the restaurant, giving it a lounge with a separate available menu. In 2014, they opened a dynamic, modern even space called Le Bernardin Privé and the Aldo Sohm Wine Bar. Nothing has stopped them – not even economic downturns or Covid. They rarely have an empty seat for lunch or dinner.

Why are they so successful?

They stay true to their philosophy that the fish is the star of the plate.
The owners are dedicated to freshness and precision above all else which creates consistency.
They don’t compromise on the overall experience and stay true to a reliance on good service and good food.
They put their focus on their offerings at Le Bernardin and working with top-notch staff.
Finally, their prices are reasonable for fine dining.

Final Thoughts on Successful Restaurants

You can see that these two restaurants—one fast-casual and one fine-dining—have many similarities.

They both stay true to their concepts and brand identities. They have focused menus. One stays small, while the other keeps fish at the forefront. Finally, they both provide fresh food that diners enjoy and look forward to.

Now that you’ve been inspired by these restaurant success stories, it’s time to ensure that your brand identity says who you are. That starts with your website. (tweet this)

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Images: Jahanzeb Ahsan and Dann Digitama on Unsplash

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