When does a challenge become an opportunity? When you’re able to look past the limitations of an issue and believe there’s a positive approach that could create success rather than failure. That’s the perspective restaurateurs need to adopt as the world changes and evolves. While it’s normal to resist change, it’s only by understanding and embracing it that businesses and the industry will not only survive, but succeed.
This month’s cover story takes a look at five issues currently creating challenges for operators. Each brings with it a new level of complexity to running a restaurant. But each also needs to be mastered and better understood.
In an era of cost-cutting consciousness, it’s easy for operators to forgo certain initiatives in the name of saving money. What owner could be faulted for that? But, owners can’t afford to look at challenges only through the prism of costs, as that mindset could end up limiting their business’ potential. They need to look at these challenges as necessary investments that, over time, can build the enterprise in a more profitable and ethical manner.
Take the issue of accessibility, for example. It’s shocking to see how few restaurants are accessible to both to staff and customers. But, given 20 per cent of the population is disabled — a number expected to grow in the next few years — it would make sense that all businesses become more accessible. As Mark Wafer, CEO of Megleen Treadstone and the former owner of six Toronto-area Tim Hortons franchises, says in this month’s story on accessibility, “We need to get businesses to understand they’re going to make more money and the bottom line is going to be healthier by including [workers] with disabilities and by being more accessible [to guests and workers alike].”
Similarly, for too long, the industry has been lax with regard to food waste, taking for granted that we have an abundance of food at our disposal. Thankfully, due to a groundswell of interest in the topic and the availability of more research, decreasing food waste is now gaining traction. For example, a recent study undertaken by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and Second Harvest declared that more than half of all food produced in Canada is wasted and that hotels, restaurants and institutions contribute nine per cent of it. The study determined that environmental damage from Canada’s food waste is equivalent to the addition of 12 million cars on our roads. Simply put — those statistics are proof positive it’s time the industry changes the conversation.