Tuesday, October 20, 2009

When is a restraurant a Chain Restaurant

There is probably a definition in the business as to what is a chain restaurant, but I've thought about this a lot lately. We have a number of multi-location restaurants in Naperville, because we have dollars and diners. Some of these multi-locatoin restaurants are here because we have diners that are into the name not the food. Most of these are chains in m definition. I look at the control of the restaurant and especially the ability of an executive chef to manage a restaurant well. Can the executive chef of Ted's Montana Grill manage the quality of the food at the Naperville and Bolingbrook locations to the exacting tastes of the executive chef's I know. No, not from some corporate headquarters. He or she might wander through a few times a year look around and make a comment or two to improve the restaurant. But the exec in this case is setting an image, not judging every plate that leaves the restaurant. I remember being in the kitchen of a nice restaurant where the chef or his sous-chef saw every plate that left his kitchen and they also looked at most of the plates that came back to see what people left.

So what about the interlopers that come from Chicago? Most to me are chains since there is no way the chef can come in every day and check on things, let alone be there during many services.

And frankly, quality revolves around the fact the executive chef will watch every plate carefully for everything from presentation to cleanliness as well as watching that sauces are not too thick or thin and that portions are controlled etc. Most restaurants have someone, usually called chef du cusine, which means assistant executive chef whose job it is to run the restaurant. But you are paying for the executives reputation.

My ideal chef is Rick Bayless. This guy is a god to me because he didn't open a restaurant in Las Vegas and New York and Miami, but three in a row. He Controls the restaurant. When yo ugo there you know he was actively involved in the menu, prep and presentation.