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Four ways to enhance your new fine-dining business

Fine dining isn’t an easy job. There are many things to consider to build a great business - the pace, labor, and equipment necessary to operate may not be readily apparent until you’re a few months into the business. Therma° interviewed two prominent fine dining restauranteurs for tips on how they started their businesses so you can get what you need to know to make your restaurant thrive.

1. You need to have strong menu  

Fine dining is an experience that is  more unique, expensive, and cultivated than you would find in an average restaurant. The owner of Izakaya Rintaro in San Francisco, Sylvan Brackett, spoke about how tough building a menu can be when you are first starting.


“In the beginning, it’s tough and chaotic. It’s tempting to cut corners because you don’t have any customers, and it is expensive,” he said. “But don’t cut any corners, it takes people a while to find something, and you could discover it but stick to your guns.” 

A great menu will attract customers and drive sales. There are several different types of menus for fine dining restaurants. 


  • Prix Fixe- set menus with limited options on multi-course meals  
  • A la carte- allows guests to choose their course combinations
  • Traditional entree- entrees include side orders that match (typically for more mainstream restaurants) 

People usually seek a fine dining experience for special occasions, meaning the quality of food served is essential. Many restaurants in this field will locally source foods such as meats, seafood, and produce. Learning your chef’s strengths and training their weaknesses an additional skill that can drive improvements to your menu items. Brackett tells Therma° that writing a menu and making sure chef's have what they need is a part of the top tasks he completes for his service every day.

2. Employee retention is pivotal

Having a good team is essential to the success of any restaurant. Everyone must be on the same page and working towards the same goal, from the chefs to the waitstaff. Tom Creedon, CEO of Scoma's Restaurant in San Francisco, has had chefs, facilities managers, and bakers that have been on his team for more than 30 years.


Staff costs are one of the most significant expenses for any food business. Knowing how many team members you'll require to minimize your expenses and maximize customer satisfaction is critical. On average, staff sizes for fine dining restaurants have around one server for every five to six tables and four back-of-house staff members for every 50 tables. 


“We work like hell to get set up, and then you have service, and it's crazy. Then you do it again the next day.” 

Fine dining restaurants are open every day throughout the year, except for some closing on federal holidays.  Having a reliable staff that can weather the storm of any season will set you up for success. 


"Keeping staff long term is a huge priority for us," Brackett from Izayaka Rintaro said. "Because I think a customer can feel it. You come in and you recognize the servers and you see the kitchen and recognize the cooks. Just by having them here for a long time, we make better food."

3. You need adequate storage processes for fresh produce 

Since fine dining restaurants typically use locally owned fresh produce like meat and seafood, storage equipment is vital. Refrain from taking shortcuts on items because it could cost your business in the long run. Creedon mentions how food poisoning and other health department issues can result from inadequate food storage equipment.


"It's good for credibility," he said. " To me, it's like cheap insurance."

Heavy-duty equipment that can withstand wear and tear should be a priority. Examples of equipment that you’ll most likely need to include: 


  • Refrigerator 
  • Ice Machine 
  • Tables 
  • Prep utensils 

The constant economic change may also shift your equipment needs with ongoing labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and “delivery first” models constantly rising. 


“Getting systems together around constantly having food coming in, storing it properly,” Brackett said. “Then prepping for the day, thinking two or three days in advance for some things that take a long time.” 
Fresh inventory inside the walk-in cooler at Scoma's Resturaunt in San Francisco

4. You need the right technology. 

There is a substantial amount of technology to consider for the front and back of the house.  Automation has helped streamline operations and assist staff with working efficiently. Automation helps mitigate labor costs by freeing up team resources on what matters - your menu and guests.


Examples of technology you may require: 


  • POS terminal 
  • Kitchen display screens 
  • Reservation management software 
  • Automated inventory management 

Tom Creedon, CEO of Scoma's Restaurant in San Francisco, uses smart technology Therma Cooling Intelligence Platform for his equipment and it helps him save inventory and prevent breakdowns.


"It's good for credibility," he said. " To me, it's like cheap insurance."


About Therma° Cooling Intelligence Platform™ 

Therma° Cooling Intelligence Platform° is a San Francisco-based restaurant tech company that builds tools for the foodservice industry to prevent inventory waste, mitigate equipment breakdowns, and reduce electricity consumption. Want to see how Therma° can help help your business succeed? Click below to try Therma° today.