There are a host of people wanting to take your money with a golden bullet that will bring customers flocking in to your restaurant. The written word in magazines, newspapers, adverts in that medium as well as the 'new world' social media can be just mind boggling. How do you track whether any of these sources are successful for the money you are spending? On-line social media does have some stats packages that allow you to see how many people are visiting your website and possible making enquiries via the phone but the magazines and newspaper ads or articles often are read and passed over. The number of times I have heard the circulation figures given that meet a large audience is unbelievable, but does not relate to a spike in business. That is until the last 2 weeks.
I have posted before about how do we become a destination restaurant and usually this is down to the power or The AA or Michelin.
In early February we had a visit from a local food blogger who enjoyed the evening and was very favourable in his comments. This review was posted on our social media and sent to a relation of our Head Chef. This was the start of the most surreal fortnight we have had during our tenure. 'Our Brian' sent this review to a very well known food critic from a national newspaper. Given this gentleman rarely ventures as far north as us and why would he hop on a train to visit a small restaurant in Shipley? After dismissing the contact as pie in the sky 20 minutes after our conversations a booking for 1 person was received for a Tuesday lunch time. Paul's sixth sense kicked after being in restaurant visited by Michelin in the past, but we thought no more about it and during the usual Tuesday morning panic to get everything set up after a couple of days off it went off the radar. Sure enough at the designated hour in walked a gentleman dressed casually as though he had been for a morning walk along the canal and was stopping off for lunch. As he has been on a number of TV programme e.g. Masterchef it was suddenly a reality that we were under a different kind of scrutiny.
The waiting then began before publication and would we have positive or negative outcome? When a phone call came in early March asking for some photographs the day of judgement was approaching and the reality dawned on us that this was real. Becoming avid Times readers, for a couple of weeks anyway, we suddenly hit the papers and social media lit up. The telephone ring tone became the only thing we could hear as bookings took off at a rate of knots we had not seen before and the social media stats were off the scale.
My scepticism of the written word had just been binned as 'the Times/Coren' effect took full control and for a short time we have become a destination restaurant.
Is the written press dead? I think not but it also needs a name behind it to give an extra push.