Business Burps – Lessons from Lunch

Bus BurpsBeing a Hollywood actor is a top dream job. People also dream about being rock stars, writing a book, and starting their own business. Oftentimes, what people fail to see in their dreams are the blood, sweat, and tears that go into making these dreams a reality. For example, people see writing a book as a piece of cake. However, a quote from the author and journalist Gene Fowler (1890-1960) cooks up a different image: “Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”  Similar sentiments apply to acting.

The actor Chuck Norris states: “Whatever luck I had, I made. I was never a natural athlete, but I paid my dues in sweat and concentration and took the time necessary to learn karate and become world champion.” Tears often fall into the mix, especially during times of defeat.

My friends know that I am co-founder of two of Atlanta’s longest running and successful restaurants – Provino’s and Scalini’s Italian Restaurants. However, the first restaurant, as Jocko’s Pizza place, on it’s opening night, caught fire. There is no shame in shedding tears, it’s how you recover that counts. Unfortunately, there are many restaurant chains for which recovery from defeat was not obtainable. Let’s look at a few of these and see what we can learn from these dining dears whose lunch got eaten by the competition and other business burps.

Minnie Pearl sml WEBBranding: Many of you may not remember the country, down home style comedian and star of the Grand Ole’ Opry television show, Minnie Pearl. While creating a powerful brand for her own comedic persona, her chicken restaurants with 500 locations suffered from a lack of cohesiveness in their menus and recipes.

On the other hand, a current chain, Appleby’s suffers from changing its brand from its current fare to wood fire grilles and hand cut steaks. When that didn’t work it went back to discounting. Your customers have enough on their minds without trying to confuse them about who you are and what you stand for.

Poor Business Practices: This will kill any brand, successful or otherwise. For example, Burger Chef once boasted 1,000 locations even providing strong competition for McDonalds. In addition, they were innovative in introducing several food staples and meals with toys. They succumbed to poor business practices and were purchased by Hardees in 1981.

Quality: While successful from the 1950’s through the 1970’s Henry’s hamburgers, succumbed to rumors of serving horsemeat. In fact, poor quality food is one of the major reasons restaurants fail. According to Business Insider, poor quality control, a break down in the chain of command, and letting food production become too routine resulting in important ingredients being left out is one of the major cases of restaurant failure.

Customer Service: While, on the surface, this one may appear to just rate a Duh!, providing good customer service is not that easy. Trying to please a myriad of ages, tastes, and expectations can be tricky. On the other hand, the simplest of gestures can make a huge difference. The friendly atmosphere, the greeting at the door, food, and check presentation and other small considerations can help win customers and their coins.

Competition: Many fast food restaurants have taken the saying, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” to heart. Carrols was the forerunner of dining out on burgers. However, Burger King kept moving into their territory and so Carrols became one too. Usually the idea is to be better than the competition. The Author of Out Think the Competition on Forbes offers a different idea stating that to beat the competition, businesses must:

  • Imagine
  • Dissect
  • Expand
  • Analyze (with a disruptive mindset)
  • Sell

Trends: One basic business practice is keeping ahead of trends. But can a business get too far ahead? This may have been the case for D’Lites burger restaurants that offered healthy food. Of course, the competition began making these offers as well.  Being ahead of its time is often attributed to the failure of WebVan, a grocery home delivery service. However, maybe D’Lites didn’t move on with the next trend to beat out encroaching competition and maybe WebVan was engaging in poor business practices. 

As you can see, dreams can quickly become your worst nightmare; and it can be hard work making a dream into a reality. Any business in any industry can fall prey to business hiccups. However, these “lessons from lunch” and paying attention to basic, tried and true business fundamentals can not only help you achieve your dream, but help you avoid experiencing any major business burps.

Thank you for reading this blog. If you would like to have a brief discussion on hiring the best people or improve the performance of the ones you have now, to help avoid business burps call 404-320-7834 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

Graphic Credit: Copyright: Flynt


Delpozo, B. (2017, February). Do You Remember These Defunct Restaurant Chains?

Feloni, R. (2016. March). Celebrity Chef Robert Irvine Explains the Top 5 Reasons Most Restaurants Fail.

Gobry, P. (20122, May). 10 Brilliant Startups That Failed Because They Were Ahead of Their Time.

Krippendorff, K. (n.d). How to Beat Your Competition by Innovating in Ways They Can’t Copy.

Thimou, T. (2017, August). Restaurant Apocalypse: Nearly 1,000 Chain Restaurant Locations are Now Gone.