The robust little restaurant: A fable



"Great news! In order to serve you better, we're not going to have dinner service seven days a week. We're just going to serve dinner on the three most popular days of the week — but we'll have a take-out window open around the clock for your dining needs! It will be like getting a Sunday dinner three days a week! Isn't that exciting?"

"No. You're a 175-year-old restaurant that's won numerous culinary awards. People here generally like your food, at least most of the time. Why would you do that?"

"Don't worry. You won't miss a thing. If anything, the food will be more robust and beefed-up. Have you met our new chef? He's from Mississippi by way of Alabama. He's awesome. He once helped a guy restore a piano."


"And we've got some other exciting replacements. We're letting go about one-third of the staff, some of whom you know. But we're going to hire some new people for the take-out window."

"But you already have a take-out window. That's nothing new. If it served good food, then maybe ... but it doesn't. Your own employees don't like it. It's awful. It's the worst part of your restaurant."

"Our take-out window is the way of the future. We tried it in Michigan and people loved it. In fact, we created a new job up there: entertainment concierge. "

"We're not MIchigan, what the hell is an entertainment concierge, and, besides — WAIT! You fired good old Pete?! And Brett?"

"Uh... well, um, give us a minute here. OK. Pete's going to be working for us... uh, just not on salary. You won't notice a difference."

"But Pete says you haven't made him an offer. And you fired Brett."

"That was a miscommunication. Just because we gave him severance papers doesn't mean he was fired."

"Look, please don't do this. We've eaten your food for 175 years. Let us show you our support."

"We appreciate the support. And you're gonna love our take-out window."

"OK, let's try something else. Here's a letter signed by some of your best customers, asking you to rethink this."

"What's all that noise outside?"

"Oh, my God, look at all the people to whom you did offer jobs. They're walking out."

"But most people are staying. And we're going to create a Google-Nike kind-of-vibe work environment for them."

"All right. Let's try this one more time. Everyone thinks you're letting down your customers — and by everyone, we mean high-society folks and regular Joes. Your restaurant is one of the few things in town that weaves these groups together. We don't want to lose it. If you don't want to run a restaurant any more, we'll buy it from you. Here's a letter signed by a lot of people who want to support you. Please. Just sit down and talk with us."

"We have read the letter with great respect and concern and we have no intention of selling you the restaurant."

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