Fighting for a Spot on the Block: the Behind the Scenes on Restaurants Today

A few days ago, I was walking down an old neighborhood street and suddenly felt like I had taken a wrong turn. Of the twenty-ish restaurants that I had frequented during my time there, almost half had moved out. In their place were a new flock of pizza places, falafel joints, and organic grills, all trying to establish themselves as worthwhile (and profitable!) spots to eat. It was then I realized; the restaurant world is really tough! This city offers so many opportunities to fail, and yet brave people continue to hold their breath, grab their cutting knives, and open new restaurants.

For outsiders (thanks to glamorous descriptions, hyped reviews, and intriguing menus), it’s easy to forget that these restaurants are actually businesses. The teams behind them think out every “effortless” balsamic drizzle, linen tablecloth, and trendy new location, so that you keep coming back. It doesn’t matter if they are Mexican or Malaysian, Italian or Indian, or Scandinavian or Southeast Asian; the restaurants we work with are balance sheet toting, cost efficient entrepreneurs who are putting in incredible amounts of work to build their craft and companies.

At VillageVines, we are working hand in hand with hundreds of great restaurateurs, chefs, managers and others who are fully devoting themselves to their passions so that we all can be successful. We help them, for those of you who are unaware, fill to their market capacity so they can focus on what they do best. Since we are taking similar risks (the online start up world can feel just like that neighborhood block) we have a lot in common.

One of our latest restaurants, Pranna, is a really inspiring example of that leap of faith. Head Chef Keith Kornfeld, who worked his way up over the last 18 years to master Southeast Asian cuisine, was struck by the tsunami while working as Executive Chef at The Evason Phuket Resort and Spa in Thailand. After barely escaping, he faced the impossible challenge of dealing with an occupancy drop from 110% to 10% within two weeks. He has since returned to the USA, and is now flaunting his craft with Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, and Cambodian-inspired dishes like Green Papaya Salad, Coconut Smoked Thai Sausage with Pineapple -chili Chutney, and Pumpkin Curry with Brandy Flambé.

So before the next flock of eateries moves in, I’d like to give some credit to the people out there feeding us all.

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