In 2021, as part of the long-standing partnership with METRO AG., EHL's Institute of Business Creativity (IBC) developed a series of short videos to help reinvent and inspire independent restaurateurs. 'Restaurant of the Future' videos create a platform for independent restaurateurs to share their experiences during and after Covid-19. Experts from various disciplines provide valuable insights and practical advice on how to reinvent the way we manage and operate restaurants.
Building a bridge between business and academia
For several years, EHL's Institute of Business Creativity has been partners with METRO AG. and its subsidiary HOSPITALITY.digital to conduct research projects aimed at better understanding the challenges of the restaurant industry and developing solutions for independent restaurateurs. Our goal is to build bridges between the academic world, with our EHL faculty and distinguished academic associates from around the world, and the business world, for the benefit of our sponsors and the industry at large. For the past years, one of the main focuses has been the state of training and education in the hospitality industry and the development of innovative solutions to improve vocational education and training.
Global crisis: A project shaped by its impact
The pandemic has exposed weaknesses in the restaurant industry such as practices and processes stuck in the past; a new restaurant evolution must emerge from the devastating global crisis. Providing knowledge and best practices is beneficial to independent restaurateurs to avoid common mistakes and improve their processes. While most independent restaurateurs recognize the value of learning from others, they often do not do so due to time constraints. That is why we have given voice to those who are passionate about this industry in an easily accessible format.
The development of a video platform is a creative project aimed at helping independent restaurateurs easily access practical advice for navigating the turbulent, fast-paced world in which they operate.
Charlotte Gauthier, Owner of ‘Uncle Gau’ and ‘Don’t Tell Auntie’ in Lausanne, talks of her journey opening a restaurant during the Covid-19 crisis. She describes the challenges she faced with lockdown, restrictions, and how she overcame them.
"A lot of good has come out of this pandemic. We've learnt to adapt and react quickly, and changed our concept to being more personalized towards each customer. Our staff is trained to work in harmony with our high tech implementations and to create a good relationship with customers. Remember to transform your customers into ambassadors, it's about the details."
Here are her main tips and takeaways:
1. Involve your team: If you take their opinions into account they will feel valued and ultimately serve the customers better - which means greater satisfaction and returning customers.
2. Get creative: See where you can use smaller local businesses, maybe try a local artist or different service suppliers. Who knows, they may even come to your restaurant as clients.
3. Use digital tools: This will allow your staff to spend less time in the back office and more time giving customers the best possible experience. Look at technology as an investment, not an expense.
4. Never stop learning: Opening a restaurant is an achievement, however, operating in a sustainable manner is a challenge that requires us to learn and implement along the way.
Key questions & answers
What lessons should restaurateurs learn from the pandemic? In what ways is the dining experience challenged by social distancing? How can independent restaurateurs become more resilient for future crises?
In the face of new challenges and to help independent restaurateurs manoeuvre in this unsettled world, we have selected experts to give their insights on key topics such as digital technology and business creativity. In this series, the experts cover different areas of running a restaurant. They explain how to reinvent the restaurant offer with a post-pandemic concept, reconsidering the customer experience and the restaurant environment with the growing importance of hygiene and low-touch solutions. They present how to make good use of QR codes, make data-driven decisions, and develop a comprehensive digital dining experience.
With the recent explosion in takeaway and home delivery resulting from the pandemic, it is crucial to move away from 'business as usual' with the same old offer and packaging, to develop a unique restaurant signature through creative and sustainable designs. Covid-19 has demonstrated the impact of delivery platform commissions on profits, and our experts help restaurateurs rethink their delivery model.
To bring the restaurateur perspective, we invite independent restaurateurs to share their experiences. For instance, one restaurant owner talks openly about how she and her team overcame many challenges: postponing the opening of both the restaurant and bar during the pandemic, revising their offer and finding digital tools and new ways to support their operations.
To bring this project to life, the IBC partnered with KOMA, a young start-up specialized in visual and digital solutions launched by two passionate and dynamic EHL alumni. Their remit: to craft restaurant of the future stories by focusing on real life experience and communication that is powerful, informative and impactful.
In the restaurant industry, time is of the essence and online videos provide an efficient solution to access knowledge quickly and conveniently. Each person can go at their own pace and choose what content to watch, as well as when and where. We offer a new learning experience in a mentorship style; most of the existing educational videos in our industry focus on cooking techniques and do not tackle other key topics for opening or managing a restaurant successfully. By providing these multi-degree videos, the IBC's 'Restaurant of the Future' platform is developing a unique toolkit for restaurateurs that is accessible to all and is free.
There are still many more themes to be addressed, such as training, hygiene and safety. In addition, we advocate an interdisciplinary approach and strive to provide knowledge and expert insights from other fields such as design and architecture.The IBC is EHL’s longest serving institute and one that prides itself on thinking outside of the box.