We caught up with the two Michelin-star chef Michael Wignall to find out his secrets to making his restaurant a real destination venues in its own right.
What are the most important things to consider when looking at rebranding a hotel’s restaurant?
It’s really important to consider the clientele and decide from the outset who you want to attract, considering both new and old customers. It’s also essential to ask yourself, if the style of the restaurant matches the style of the food. Consistency throughout the menu and décor is essential.
How can you go about creating a ‘story’ behind your restaurant’s brand?
Focusing on the chef and his or her story is a really good way of bringing the brand to life. If a restaurant is able to integrate this personality into its aesthetic, it makes itself unique, honest and compelling.
How can hoteliers make their restaurant operate as almost a standalone business within the hotel? Is this a key factor to upping its reputation?
A restaurant within a hotel needs to stand on its own two feet. It does this by setting its own targets and creating its own ambience. However, this needs to be done in harmony with the hotel.
How important is it that the restaurant engages with guests in new ways? For example, foraging trips, masterclasses – do initiatives such as these really pay dividends?
The team and I are always looking for new ways to interact with our guests. In the past I have taken guests to Rungis market in France and I also have a weekly cookery class, all about tastes, textures and seasons and the importance of how they work together. We also hold private cookery lessons with clientele and guests, followed by lunch at the chef’s table with courses that they help create.
All of the above plays a very important part of them understanding and respecting the produce we use. Guests are becoming much more knowledgeable and aware of where produce is sourced from and I find this a great way to promote the restaurants ethics and ethos.
How can you strike the right balance between appealing to your hotel guests and attracting diners from outside?
I think the most important thing is to create a destination that appeals to internal and external guests equally. The hotel offering is an extra option for the guest. If you have a destination restaurant it benefits the hotel by encouraging footfall in the bar, spa and other facilities on offer. However, it is important that the restaurant and hotel work together to understand each other’s business principles and goals.
What techniques do you use to create some hype around your restaurant and its offering?
Social media is such a huge opportunity for chefs themselves, as well as restaurants. Restaurants can use it to share new menu items, offers, events etc. whereas chefs can use it portray their personalities and thinking behind each dish. I travel to different countries for inspiration, and share these experiences on my social channels to generate excitement and understanding around my dishes.
Is there a figure that hoteliers should be aiming for in terms of how much revenue comes from their restaurant, percentage-wise?
It’s hard to give a figure as it depends on the style and size of the restaurant and what you want to achieve. It’s important that the hotelier looks at the bigger picture of what the restaurant brings to the business as a whole. Upgraded room revenue, spa sales and other profitable assets that a destination restaurant might generate, also contribute to revenue too. The restaurant also needs to be as profitable as possible, without jeopardising standards. The discerning customer doesn’t mind paying for quality as long, as it is there to a certain standard and that applies throughout the whole hotel/ complex.
What are your top tips to making your restaurant a real destination?
? Individuality makes for a destination restaurant. So think about what makes it unique and bring that to life in the food, décor, or both and use tools like social media to support that.
? Remembering what a client specifically likes and dislikes is simple but really adds something extra and memorable for them and helps create loyalty.
? Creating bespoke menus – something that my team and I like to keep on top of on a daily basis
? Never let your standards drop