A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about closing a restaurant:
When you know your business is closing, should you let your customers know about the closing or any details? If you are not the owner of the business is it your right to tell them or do you honor the wishes of your boss in the final days?
When I got back from vacation at the end of August, I found out the restaurant I work at, along with my brother, and my dad as the manager, would be closing in three weeks. We were shocked and confused because we were improving steadily after a remodel. This is why it made it hard for us to digest. We were immediately worried about our customers and especially the regulars. We knew we had an obligation to the owner to keep matters private which is what we did, but we felt horrible for the people who looked forward to this dining experience and would be blindsided by the news. We thought it was best to honor the owner’s decision in the final days because it was his business, but it made it difficult to not explain things to customers and be able to say goodbye.
It did work out well keeping our word to the owner and knowing we did respect his wishes because most of the regular customers have been able to reach out to us on social media. This gave us the opportunity to explain and say our goodbyes as well as being loyal employees and keeping our word to the owner.
When closing, selling or transferring a business there are always many moving parts…so, my response will be focused on communicating with the team, the marketplace and loyal customers.
Dear Former Employee
Rather than attempt to answer your question, I solicited advice from one who has managed several restaurants, Craig Tengler. His answer follows:
Typically…the primary reason to keep this type of business action confidential is to keep the team in place to serve customers without disruption to the business. It’s about the money, not the people. In today’s marketplace…it is interesting and difficult to maintain staffing levels when “no-call no-show” behavior is a constant and significant staffing challenge.
There are positive examples of communicating with customers and the marketplace that a restaurant is closing. This type of event can ring the bell of sales with a sense of urgency. Think about the emerging business models/opportunity of the “pop-up” store or mobile restaurant that communicates to customers…it is now or not.
A restaurant closing event can be a marketers dream… but, only if you have the staff and food to deliver. All this is fun to think about but difficult to operationally pull off – which is likely why the ownership of this restaurant and many, many others – just close the doors with a sign of thanks.
This is an extreme example… but, worth a the few minutes to watch.
Check out this news clip about the closing of Durgin Park (a 200 year old establishment) https://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/Diners-Pack–503978771.html
Finally…with a family-team that actually cares about customers you will prosper again. The values you state below…with positive persistence…are the values of success! Learn, Earn and Return! –All the best, Craig
I expect this advice from Craig adds up to my signature: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. –William Gorden