Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons on the very first Restaurant Wars.

on Dec 15, 2008

If I had a quarter for every time someone told me they wanted to open their own restaurant, I would be a very wealthy woman. To people outside the food industry, having your own place seems glamorous. In reality, it is probably one of the most taxing and under-appreciated careers to choose. There is so much more to running a successful eating establishment than simply being a good cook or a fabulous host. It may be fun to entertain the idea of a little bistro where you are always guaranteed the best table, service and food for your family and friends, but any owner will tell you that running a restaurant well is about so much more. It is a delicate balance between numerous factors including ingredients, cost, staffing, supply and demand, location, return on investment, trend forecasting, broken appliances, dirty dishes, clogged drains, customer service, employee management, delegation, compromise, and a whole lot of sweat.

So what factors go into having a great restaurant? Well, as we saw in this week's episode, a strong concept certainly helps. This is something about which our guest judge, Jeffrey Chodorow, certainly knows more than his share. Jeffrey is one of the country's most successful restaurateurs; known for the creation of China Grill, Asia de Cuba, Ono, Tuscan Steak and Mix among others. With restaurants in America opening and closing at alarming rates each year, he has seen more than a few concepts come and go. As Jeffrey pointed out during our dinners at Sabor and American Workshop, it is not enough to just want to serve "American Classic" or "Modern Spanish" flavors. A solid restaurant concept must be developed in its entirety, with every detail carefully thought through to execution.