Students: Case Studies

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Chapter 1

Case Study: Identification of atmosphere, mood and interior design of a restaurant

Restaurateurs know it is important to manage the meal experience in order not to leave guest impressions to chance. The book outlines this idea at length in chapter one.

Using the Case Study: Acorn House Restaurant in Chapter 4 work in small groups or as an overall class to visualize a consistent image of the interior of the Acorn House restaurant.

Identify what is meant by “intangibles” regarding the atmosphere, mood and interior design. Put these concepts in writing so a picture can be visualized that is consistent among all group members and classmates. In particular, identify how the following concepts would be seen and what they look like, or if not ascertained from the case study, make recommendations regarding what they should look like so there is an overall consistent image for the restaurant and it aligns with the meal experience, concept and menu.

Atmosphere and Mood

  • Intangible ‘feel’ inside a restaurant
  • Décor and interior design
  • Table and seating arrangements
  • Service accompaniments
  • Dress and attitude of staff
  • Tempo of service
  • Age, dress, gender of other customers
  • Sound levels, music
  • Temperature
  • Overall cleanliness

Interior Design

Overall design: size and shape of room, furniture, lighting, color scheme, air conditioning / heating. Is there a sense of coherence? What are these variables and how should they be exhibited at Acorn House?

Should customers linger at Acorn? If so, how do the design and atmosphere encourage them to do so?

Chapter 2

Case Study: What type of outlet?

Derek dreamed about opening his own restaurant but he had no idea about how to run one let alone where to begin. When he won the lottery he decided that this was the time to start his little dream and he decided to go back to the village where his parents lived.

The village has about 5,000 inhabitants and is only 20 minutes by car from a large city. It already has two takeaways and three small restaurants that are doing ok. All three restaurants are mid-ranged. A fine dining restaurant opened 3 years ago but it closed after 1 year. There is also a pub in the village that offers a limited menu at lunchtime.

Derek is unsure as to what type of restaurant he should open. Money is no object to him now that he has won the lottery but he also does not want to invest in an enterprise that is going to lose money for certain.

What would you advise Derek to do next?

If you were Derek, what type of operation would you most likely attempt to open? Why?

Case Study: Restaurant downsizing

Sally Smith is a manager at the Butcher Block Restaurant. Due to her extensive background in the restaurant business, she has great influence on the executive management and often makes significant recommendations for changes that are supported. The restaurant was closed two months ago after a news release issued by the regional Health Department claimed that at least twenty people had become ill apparently with the listeriosis infection after eating at the Butcher Block the month before. Listeriosis has been isolated in the feces of healthy humans, sheep, cattle and poultry, and the spread of this disease has been linked to the consumption of contaminated food production. Five of the sickened people had to be hospitalized. Although a thorough restaurant health inspection failed to prove the restaurant was responsible, the negative press intensified low attendance problems.

This downturn in the business has made it necessary to prepare for a reduction in the workforce. The terminations will be permanent and there are no termination benefits. Executive management has identified five employees as the first ones to be considered for termination. All five employees are at the same organizational level, but from different areas of the establishment. Bridgett is a server; Marc is a bartender; Neil is a cook; Jennifer is an expediter; and Stephen is a baker. One must be terminated and the rest ranked for future termination. Sally has a friendly working relationship with all of these employees and regrets having to let any of them go.

If you were Sally, determine who will be the first to go and rank order the remaining employees. Assume there are no union contracts, company policies, legal requirements or traditional business practices that constrain your decision making. Base your decision about an employee’s position on the termination list purely on your own judgment of fairness to the employees and benefit for the Butcher Block. Provide justification for your ranking and strategy for covering with one less position each time someone needs to be terminated.

Sally hopes to use her leadership skills to rejuvenate the restaurant and increase business. She has always been one to persevere in the face of adversity. Her employees are loyal to her because of her ethics, skill in running a restaurant and support and consideration in her relationships with them. At present, the negative press is coupled with a severe economic downturn that is impacting business even further. The prediction is that economic recovery may not happen for two years into the future, Sally is thinking about recommending to executive management that they downgrade the service level in the entire establishment, which would result in a change to their concept, in order to save labor costs. What ramifications might this idea have on:

  • the concept
  • marketing
  • costs
  • customer perception
  • customer visitation
  • and so on?
  • Do you think this is a good idea? Why or why not?
  • Identify the short-range (within two months), mid-range (within six months), and long-term (within two years) aspects of which Sally must be aware. 

Chapter 3

Case Study: The big day

Juliana and Victor decided on their big day and wanted to have a wedding reception that everyone would remember. They had decided on a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ theme for the reception and wanted their menu to reflect the theme. Money was no object and lobster and caviar would feature as well as oysters and champagne to get the party started. When they approached Franco the hotel banqueting manager he assured them that in their resort they would find everything they needed and his staff would make sure that the day was a success. The couple had identified a small island about 10 miles away from the resort and wanted to hold the main reception there.

Although Franco and his team had never catered outside the resort, Franco decided that he could not let this function slip through his hands. With 200 guests and an average expenditure of £40 per cover he decided he would cater for this function at all costs.

Getting the F&B to the island proved to be a difficult task but with the help of his staff Franco and his team were ready for the event, although Franco was slightly worried that he did not have the right equipment to keep all the food at the correct temperatures. Nevertheless the reception proved to be a success and the couple were overjoyed.

However, two days after the event 46 of the guests were ill with food poisoning. The results from the local hospital will be out tomorrow but everyone suspects it was the oysters and the hotel is getting a lot of bad publicity.

Q1: If you were Franco what would you have done prior to the event to ensure no risks were taken?

Q2: Now that the resort is getting bad publicity, what would you advise Franco to do?

Case Study: Increasing sales and revenue in institutional catering

Centre Piece is a managed services company that provides foodservice for a Liberal Arts College of 1,200 students that operates year-round. The university maintains a student dining room, faculty dining room, three retail facilities (grill, café, sandwich outlets), and catering activities. The outlets are extremely busy during standard meal times, but are empty in between. You cannot send the large staff home between meals, so you are paying them to do nothing. There is only one central kitchen where foodservice staff is able to handle production, and it is staffed from 6:00 a.m. through midnight because there are meal offerings from 7:00 to 9:30 a.m., 11:30 to 1:30 p.m., 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 to 11:30 p.m.

  • Determine methods to get people to use the outlets (grill, café, sandwich outlets) between meals to increase sales and revenue.
  • Establish approaches for all peaks and troughs.
  • Identify other uses for venues for all peaks and troughs.
  • Develop unique F&B offerings to encourage people to frequent more often and during slow time periods.

Chapter 4

Case Study: SWOT analysis at the Shipwreck Café

The Shipwreck Café is located in a small tourist community near the seaside of Southend-on-Sea, UK. It has been in business for just two years and has developed a solid local customer based made up mostly of pensioners. During the tourist season, the restaurant gets many referrals from various resorts in the area. The owner of the restaurant wants to set some goals so that the Shipwreck Café can move closer to its vision and mission statements: ‘To keep our customers coming back for locally sourced food, attentive service, and a comfortable welcome atmosphere’ and ‘Our mission is to provide customers quality, healthy, organic cuisine with excellent service that exemplifies our heritage in Southend-on-Sea.’ The following information provides additional background on this establishment:

  • The chef was educated at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, and has been chef at several luxury resorts.
  • The local council encourages local businesses to expand.
  • Because of housing development in the area, more restaurants are opening in the community.
  • There is uncertainty regarding how an increasing housing market will affect things.
  • A small influx of popular chain and fast food restaurants could wipe out the market.
  • The Shipwreck Café has a small staff.
  • The Shipwreck Café can create customized menu selections upon request.
  • The Shipwreck Café does not have a lot of information about their competitors.
  • The Shipwreck Café has a small, select menu of healthy food, including fish and game.
  • Cashflow can be unreliable at times.
  • Several pensioners have asked if the restaurant does catering.

Identify and list the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that the Shipwreck Café may have. Upon identification of the factors, select three to focus on and develop further.

Strengths

 

Weaknesses

 

Opportunities

 

Threats

 

Top area to develop further

 

Top area to develop further

 

Top area to develop further

 

Chapter 5

Case Study: City centre hotel

You are the F&B manager of a three star city center hotel. Following refurbishment you have been asked to produce a new bar and wine list.

Using various sections of this chapter design the process you would adopt to complete this task and the rationale for your choice.

Case Study: Menu expansion

Angus Acres is a fast food organic restaurant in Brighton, England. The restaurant has been open for one and a half years and sales have been good. The menu is as follows:

  • Burgers: burgers and (cheddar) cheeseburgers made from Angus beef
  • Fish: Locally sourced and sustainable cod
  • Chips: Hand made on-site from locally sourced organic potatoes
  • Green salads: with organic lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, peapods, croutons and  single-serving dressings
  • Sodas
  • Condiments available: white vinegar, horseradish sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise.

The restaurant owner has hired you because you are knowledgeable about the green movement and menus that are organic and sustainable. Although the offerings of Angus Acres are limited, the owner would like to add three new menu items, with only adding two new inventory items. There is limited storage space and little room in inventory.

Develop three new menu items with only two additional inventory items that keep in line with the concept of Angus Acres.

Chapter 6

Case Study: Theft from the storage room

You are the manager at the Cliff Bar and Grill. The restaurant has been experiencing a lot of theft over the past month. The thefts started one month ago and have occurred during the busiest hours of operation. The items stolen were frozen meat items, pre-wrapped items placed at the register for guests to purchase, and items in a holding bin waiting to be placed in inventory. The items are matched with orders that were sold, one week after the sale takes place. The pre-wrapped items are kept in inventory until placed on the counter, based on the par levels desired (the quantity of products a restaurant desires to keep on hand at all times). Employees enter and exit the premises through an employee door, are not allowed to bring backpacks to work, nor are they allowed to take packages out. Personal items are kept in lockers.

An inventory specialist manages the inventory. She was the person who alerted you that items had been stolen. She provided you with the number of items stolen and the value of each item. Based on this record, you notice that in the past month, each week’s theft total has increased by £10.00. You now have a total loss of £350.00. You must do something to stop theft in the restaurant.

You want to put a team of employees together to try to solve the problem. You want to conduct a meeting that helps identify where the problem originates and how to stop it. However, the problem may be caused by one of the staff members that you want to attend the meeting.

  • Identify the titles of the employees and number of people to include in the meeting.
  • Determine three issues to discuss with the employees selected to help solve the problem.
  • Identify objectives to accomplish during the first meeting.
  • Determine the most appropriate type of meeting for accomplishing these objectives.
  • Where should the meeting take place?
  • How long should the meeting be?
  • Create an agenda for the meeting.
  • Determine the materials you will distribute before or during the meeting if any.

Chapter 7

Case Study: Ramifications of reassigning a purchasing employee to production and service

Allie is an emerging star at Town and Country Restaurant. She knows the operation of the restaurant well, particularly the purchasing function. Allie developed an effective purchasing system that reduced the time by one-half. She always has excellent ideas for improvement. Unfortunately, upper-management has now decided to outsource the purchasing function and assign Allie to production. Since the change, Allie has noticeably changed. She is capable of handling the new responsibilities of production, but does not wish to perform them. She is very unhappy. She says that she feels her assigned work responsibilities are irrelevant and she is no longer needed. As a result, she comes to work later and leaves earlier. Upper-management has noticed the change. As Allie’s manager you have been instructed by your immediate supervisor to fire Allie, unless she can turn things around.

  • What is the problem with Allie?
  • What would you do as her immediate supervisor?
  • What behavior is Allie displaying?
  • What steps might you take to motivate Allie to pursue the new job with her ‘usual’ enthusiasm?
  • How might you leverage a delegated task to Allie to improve her behavior?
  • What might the positive and negative ramifications be if you were to move Allie into a wait staff position?

Chapter 8

Case Study: Disappearing liquor

You are the general manager of a trendy pub restaurant in an upscale part of a large metropolitan area. You have local musicians that perform regularly. You have a great staff that gets along well and enjoys working together. Strong customer volume includes regular locals and new guests. The customers enjoy their interaction with the staff and bartenders and thus will often buy them a drink. When the staff gets off work before closing they will often become customers with the establishment. This increases the positive interaction between staff and customers. Sales are good and all costs are in line except the bar cost, which is one or two percent high. You are not too worried about it because your strong sales give you a good profit and the owners are happy.

On a tip from an employee, you learn that a lead bartender is stealing alcohol from the storeroom. You set up a hidden video surveillance camera. After a few nights, you catch the bartender on tape taking products from the liquor storeroom and going out the back door.

Lead bartenders are issued keys to the storeroom, as the bar often runs out of products during busy nights when management is busy with other operational issues. Inventory is taken weekly.

You do not know what to do. The lead bartender is very popular with your customers and the rest of the crew. Firing her would prove to be unpopular and could hurt sales, customer volume and morale, but ignoring the problem would open the door to other employees taking products. Since you were tipped off, you know that at least some of the employees know what is going on.

  • Should you dismiss the lead bartender? Why or why not?
  • What are the ethics of setting up a hidden surveillance camera?
  • Is the cycle for inventory a problem? Why or why not?
  • Determine a method to solve the problem by tightening the policies and procedures of   purchasing and storage of beverages.
  • Identify several alternatives you have to solving the problem.
  • Select the best solution.
  • Determine how you would implement the solution.

Chapter 9

Case Study: Leadership by maintaining distance between management and staff

Earl is a manager at the Sunset Bistro, part of a small restaurant chain. He is having problems relating to his employees. Earl feels that the employees should perform their duties as they are told and without asking any questions. Earl is an experienced manager with over twenty-five years in the restaurant industry. He has not participated in any professional development or education courses in the past five years.

During his twenty-five years in the restaurant industry, many things have changed. The style of management has shifted from one of ‘command and control’ to one of more collaboration and input. Earl believes there is a need to maintain a distance between management and staff, and he feels that employees should not provide feedback or any suggestions on their work roles because turnover is so great and many staff are so young, that their suggestions would not be valid. He feels that his daily update meetings are sufficient for employees to hear what is expected of them. Earl rarely speaks to the employees other than during these meetings.

In frustration over Earl’s inability to communicate effectively with them, the employees stage a ‘sick-out’ (half of the employees call in sick). The head cook, Ricardo, is responsible for the ‘sick-out’, which is intended to last for at least a week. When this actually happens, Earl works as the head cook and operations managers from other locations are brought in to cover.

The Director of Operations, who supervises Earl, thinks that he has excellent technical skills and can learn to be open and effective at communicating with his employees, with some training.

  • What should the Director of Operations do and what approach should he take?
  • What do you think is the cause of the ‘sick-out’?
  • As the director, would you have a meeting with the staff? What would be on your agenda and what approach would you take?
  • Would you have a meeting with Earl? What would be on your agenda and what approach would you take?
  • What plan would you propose for the staff and what would it include? 
  • What plan would you propose for Earl and what would it include?
  • What kind of follow-up would you do, if any?
  • What would your role in the immediate (this week), short-term (this month) and long-term (six months) be?

Chapter 10

Case Study: Centenary Hotels

Centenary Hotels, a small hotel chain in London, UK enjoyed a healthy room occupancy throughout the year. The board of directors was more than happy with the hotel performance in terms of room revenue. However, the same could not be said for the F&B department. The hotel restaurants seemed to be doing poorly in terms of customer attendance and it seemed that only 15% of the hotel residents would eat in the restaurant and a very small number of external customers would ever give their restaurants a try. They decided to revamp all five of their restaurants and spend a considerable amount of money ensuring that a new contemporary design was implemented in all of the restaurants, and a new executive chef had redesigned all their menus. All the restaurants now had separate entrances to the high street so that potential external customers were not intimidated by having to enter the hotel and pass the foyer before entering the restaurant. The board of directors has decided to hire a marketing firm to reintroduce their ‘new’ restaurants in the market.

Q1: Your company is bidding for this contract and you are expected to prepare a power point presentation illustrating how your company is going to approach the marketing campaign and what tools you are going to use to ensure the restaurants are a success. Consider internal marketing techniques as well as external ones when pitching your ideas to the board.

Case Study: Maintaining profit and quality in a turbulent economy

A February 2009 issue of Nations Restaurant News, the USA news leader of the foodservice industry weekly publication, presented an article entitled, ‘Consumers dining out even less’, by Ron Ruggless, http://www.nrn.com/breakingNews.aspx?id=362958&menu_id=1368. This article and several others like it have presented that the turbulent economic crisis of 2009 is forcing patrons to reduce their restaurant dining and spending in all sectors ranging from luxury through the casual sectors.

  • What marketing ideas do you have for the chain of Beefeater Restaurants in this turbulent economy where consumers are cutting back on restaurant spending?
  • What ideas do you have to continue to drive traffic for the Beefeater Restaurants in this turbulent economy?
  • What methods can the Beefeater Restaurants use to drive traffic in this turbulent economy with special offers that will not be expected in the long term or that do not hinder profit in the long run?
  • What methods of cost cutting can the Beefeater Restaurants pursue without reducing quality or service?

Chapter 11

Case Study: Using and observing the SERVQUAL concepts

In small groups, find a restaurant or foodservice operation in your area or have one determined by your instructor. Get permission from the restaurant manager to interview him/her, as well as some front of the house and back of the house employees, and to utilize the establishment to attempt to observe the SERVQUAL concepts as listed below.

The SERVQUAL instrument is made up of 22 statements for evaluating consumer perceptions and expectations regarding the quality of a service. Respondents are asked to rate their level of agreement or disagreement with the given statements on a 7-point Likert scale. Customers’ perceptions are based on the actual service they receive, while customers’ expectations are based on past experiences and information received. The statements represent the elements of service quality. Refinement of this work reduced the original service dimensions used by customers to judge the quality of a service from ten to five. The five key dimensions (Parasuraman el al., 1991) that were identified are as follows:

  1. Reliability – the ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately.
  2. Tangibles – the appearance of physical facilities, equipment, personnel and communications materials.
  3. Responsiveness – the willingness to help the customers and to provide prompt service.
  4. Assurance – the knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to convey trust and confidence.
  5. Empathy – the provision of caring and individualized attention to customers.

One of the purposes of the SERVQUAL instrument is to ascertain the level of service quality based on the above five key dimensions and to identify where gaps in service exist and to what extent. The gaps are generally defined as:

  • Positioning gap – this is the manager's perception of customers’ expectations and the importance customers attach to the quality dimensions.
  • Specification gap – is concerned with the difference between what management believes the customer wants and what he/she expects the restaurant to provide.
  • Delivery gap – is concerned with the difference between the service provided by the employees of the business and the specifications set by management.
  • Communication gap – exists when the promises communicated by the business to the customers do not match the customers’ expectations of those external promises.
  • Perception gap – is the difference between the customers’ internal perception and expectation of the services (Zeithaml et al., 1990).

Using the SERVQUAL concepts, create a list of questions to ask the manager and desired employees and create a checklist of tangibles and intangibles to detect in order to discover the five key dimensions.

Conduct your interviews and observations, summarize your findings, and then present your findings to the manager and the class.

After determining the key dimensions above, see if you can determine where the gaps in service exist.

References:

Parasuraman, A., Berry L. L. and Zeithaml V. A. , 1991, Refinement and Reassessment of the SERVQUAL Scale. Journal of Retailing, Vol. 67 (Winter), pp. 420-450.

Zeithaml, A, Pasuraman, A., Berry, L. (1990). Delivering Quality Service: Balancing Customer Perceptions and Expectations. New York: The Free Press Division of Macmillan, Inc. 

Chapter 12

Case Study: Sourcing eco-friendly and sustainable products

Wagamama restaurants are discussed several times throughout the book. Using their mini menu listed below, along with their dessert menu from http://www.menupages.ie/Restaurants/Wagamama/Menu.aspx, make the following recommendations that would make this establishment more environmentally friendly:

  • Recommend at least five eco-friendly and sustainable food products.
  • Recommend at least three eco-friendly and sustainable pieces of equipment or processes to be used in the restaurant.
  • Recommend at least three regional sourcing options.
  • Recommend the marketing ideas you would pursue to share your eco-friendly and sustainable products with your customers and potential customers.
  • Identify the impacts and ramifications that changing the menu, restaurant and equipment processes might have.

Mini menu

Desserts

mini ramen

slices of grilled chicken breast served on noodles in a tasty vegetarian stack topped with fresh spinach, shredded carrots and sweetcorn

chicken noodle

sliced of grilled chicken breast served on noodles with a sliced apple, mandarin and sesame tossed salad, served with amai sauce                                                                                         

mini chicken katsu

deep fried breadcrumbed chicken breast served with Japanese style rice, shredded cucumber and a lightly spiced curry sauce                                                                                         

mini ramen vegetarian

deep fried cubes of tofu served on noodles in a tasty vegetarian stock topped with fresh spinach, shredded carrots and sweetcorn                                                                                         

ebi rice

deep friend breadcrumbed prawns served with Japanese style rice, shredded cucumber and an amai sauce dip

wild berry sorbet

2 scoops of wild berry sorbet garnished with fresh blueberries and a sprig of mint                                                                                                   

lime and stem ginger tart

a sweet pastry base filled with lime and stem ginger custard, served with crème fraiche and a twist of lime zest                                                                                                   

coconut reika

3 scoops of dairy coconut ice cream topped with a fresh passion fruit sauce                                                                                                   

white chocolate & ginger cheesecake

creamy baked white chocolate and ginger cheesecake on a crunchy biscuit base, served with a candied orange compote and a lightly spiced chili-ginger toffee sauce                                                                                                   

wagamama chocolate fudge cake

moist chocolate fudge cake with a wasabi and white chocolate fudge filling, served with chocolate-wasabi sauce and a dairy vanilla pod ice cream