The last restaurant that I ran for a year and a half was a failure.

I could put this down to location, interior design, exterior design, unsavoury clientele or troublemakers but in retrospect, looking back I was in the wrong place in the wrong time. Not the wrong part of Glasgow or Scotland. Not the wrong part of the town but in the wrong part of the restaurant.

I should have paid a lot more attention to the kitchen. My energies were focused on the staff, the bar and the decor. I should have paid a lot more attention to the food. The quality and quantity of the cuisine.

If I had put as much effort into the kitchen as I had put into the workings of the restaurant, the website, the staff, the decor, if I had put that into the kitchen, tasting the food, watching the food, creating new recipes, perhaps I would have fared better.

Making sure that that every thing that went out of that kitchen was the bees knees, getting to grips with new menus, foodstuffs, expanding tastes was the thing to do. Creating a BUZZ about food is what I should have done. I was in the wrong place, not externally but internally. My advice to anyone who has a restaurant in trouble…get in the kitchen and start working. If you do not have the cooking “thrill”, get someone who does! Ask the customers as they are leaving “What was the food like?” Get the right opinions, the critical ones.

“Good” or “Excellent”.. no, “FANTASTIC! I will be back” is what you need to hear.

A kitchen porter said to me many years ago “this is the most important place in the restaurant”. He was pointing at the bin! The most important place!? This is where the food comes back if it is not good enough. Think about it. People are hungry, they should have finished the food. If the food is great then the plates will come back clean.

In another restaurant I ran in Edinburgh the head chef asked me who I thought was the most important person in the business.

I said I was. After all I kept it all together! I looked after and paid the staff! How wrong I was. The chef is the most intrinsic of course because the food has to be better than A1.

Be in the right place in the restaurant. Be in the he kitchen.

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