How to .. Open a restaurant in Shanghai

I was cleaning up old magazines and ran into an issue of SH Magazine. On the last page of each issue there is small column called, “How to”.

Sometimes this column is slightly useful, many times it’s cynical. The one I read was funny for the last reason.

How to .. Open a restaurant in Shanghai

  1. Look for a successful brand. Add a 2 to it. This will be your concept.
  2. Hunt for a location, preferably one where several previous restaurants have failed.
  3. Hire wait staff. The proper mix is 80 percent rude, 10 percent indifferent, 10 percent caring. This will keep future customers excited to return, unsure of which combination they may get on any given visit.
  4. Pick standards like Spaghetti Bolognese or Rosemary Lamb Chops, but add a “twist”. This may mean adding more MSG than your competitors or using the lowest quality available. Put “fresh-picked” and “imported” in front of everything on the menu, including water and wine.
  5. Sit back and watch the no-profits roll in. Give up after six month. Complain that the market is saturated.

On the same page there’s an interview with retiring Chinese food critic Jiang Liyang who wrote for the Wenhui Daily.

According to him “there are over 40,000 restaurants in Shanghai. Four thousand of them make a profit”.

The writer of the list has a valid point, although I have to say that so-called Western restaurants in Shanghai comply more with the percentages mentioned under point 3. Most Chinese restaurants have a much better grip on their staff I have the feeling.

The whole staff issue is even more irritating as in these western places you’re supposed to pay at least double what you would at a Chinese place. I don’t mind paying more but besides the food, definitely the staff should also be of a better level.

Unfortunately staff is many times an afterthought, a bit like the toilet in a Chinese restaurant.

Sources: the print version of SH Mag (I can’t find the list on their site)

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2 Responses to “How to .. Open a restaurant in Shanghai”

  1. David
    September 23rd, 2007 01:36

    I would definite agree with the last point. Foreign-owned restaurants have the worst service because owners do not know how to manage staff.

  2. Hoco
    November 5th, 2007 07:45

    Japanese and Korean Restaurants also have better staff training. It could be cultural or a language barrier, but Im sure there must be a way to instill better training for western style restaurants

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