How to pick a restaurant: the clean-door test

Rules of Thumb is a fine website for those of use who enjoy proxy metrics, the things you use to judge when you can’t judge the real thing.

Picking a restaurant is an obsession on the site. One rule of its many rules is attributed to CBS’s Andy Rooney, who suggests you avoid cute names because owners aren’t serious about food. Other users believe that newspaper reviews in the window signal a restaurant that’s neither too bad nor too snooty. Still others believe a “high class” joint is good. The smartest one, though, says you should look first at the restroom.

There is a better way. My ex-wife managed restuarants for 22 years and knows the game. Put her anywhere in the world and the odds are 10 to 1 she’ll pick a good restaurant.

She says you have to keep in mind one thing: the biggest single factor in a restaurant’s quality is the attention to detail. Two restaurants with the same payroll, the same dining room, and the same ingredients can have much different quality. The difference is whether someone on staff is really paying attention.

Attention means keeping an eye on everything, even the small things. The quality-assurance route runs through the kitchen, the dining room and outside. A clean door, well-tended plants, and clean windows show that someone cared enough to keep them that way.

Next, see if the menu matches the season. Then go inside and sniff. Does it smell good? Do people seem happy?

The attention to what seems trivial indicates the level of attention paid to what you don’t see, such as ingredient selection, food storage and cooking.

Filed Under: Uncategorized

Leave a reply

Other recent posts

End of one-size-fits-all data stories

This appeared originally on the TDWI site in September behind a paywall. It’s still there, but today they’ve had the 90 days of exclusive use that I agreed to. Survey after survey reveals that about 80 percent of business users don’t use data analysis—despite all the marketing and “easy to use” tools. As if in… Continue Reading

Qlik finally set to leapfrog Tableau?

Who’s your rival? I carelessly asked a Qlik person at the company’s annual analyst reception Monday night in Miami if she hadn’t once worked for Tableau. Her revulsion was immediate. “No! Never!,” she said. We smiled. There was so much more to talk about. For one thing, how will private equity change things? Qlik wasn’t… Continue Reading

Five Tips for Better Data Stories

Originally published on September 22, 2015 in BI This Week, a TDWI publication. A “data story” sounds like such a great idea. You just mix data with storytelling and you’re done — except that most data storytellers get one thing wrong: they drown out the story with data. Such storytellers, I believe, assume that audiences… Continue Reading

Bohemian Grove a la BI

The Bohemian Grove of the BI industry convenes for the fifteenth time in just three weeks. Naturally, you ask the obvious question: Are you serious? The Grove? A summit? The answer begins with a fond recollection of the Grove. If you’ve never attended the Bohemian Grove yourself — I haven’t, though I live in the… Continue Reading