Food occupies a rather strange place in the modern world. It’s right up there with air in terms of things that we need for basic survival. But it’s also a method of recreation. We view eating a great meal as both fun and nourishment. It’s often even a way to bond with people. Going out to eat is a classic date night for good reason. There’s just something incredibly intimate when we share various wonderful tastes and smells with each other.
But most people don’t really have to give the subject much thought. They can simply eat quickly when there’s a utilitarian need for it. And when the meal should fit some other social role it can be appreciated that way. It’s a bit harder for the people tasked to actually prepare that food for people. They need to essentially be all things for all people if they’re going to make a profit. And this can seem even more daunting when it comes to specialty foods. But the difficulties often go hand in hand with opportunities.
To better understand this, we should consider a hypothetical example. Let’s look online for any chinese restaurant Saint Louis Park MN. The description alone would seem to suggest that Chinese food would be the main focus. But things are seldom that simple. It’s important to consider a customer’s expectations before anything else. What would the average person in Minnesota expect to see on the menu when he walks into a Chinese restaurant?
The average person in Minnesota would be far more likely to expect American Chinese cuisine rather than traditional Chinese food. This can sometimes prove to be a somewhat academic distinction as many meals fall under both banners. But in general, one can expect American Chinese cuisine to differ fairly significantly from more traditional fare. The main reason is that it exemplifies over a century of evolution to meet different resources and tastes.
If one wasn’t aware of that fact than it’d be a huge issue for the restaurant. The distinctions between American Chinese food and traditional Chinese food often arose due to scarcity of some ingredients. A restaurant might well important those ingredients at great cost only to discover that the public doesn’t like them. This isn’t just the case with ingredients either.
People often expect to use eating utensils or plates in different ways than one would see in China. And American utensils might well be expected in instances where people in China would simply sip soup or other liquids. This isn’t to say that a Chinese restaurant can’t provide traditional fare.
It’s simply that a restaurant needs to always consider the needs of the public before anything else. Again, one should remember the earlier example of how food means different things to different people. It’s not up to the restaurant to decide on how people will approach any given meal. Instead, restaurants should do their best to anticipate as many of their needs as possible. One can most certainly also inform customers of new options they’ve never considered before. But this too should be something that’s working with a customer’s needs rather than trying to define it for them.