A hidden resource for restaurants

Sept. 20, 2011 | by Barry Klein

Who knew? For quite a few years now, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Richard Melman's famously successful restaurant company, has quietly been offering consulting services to fellow restaurateurs who have requested assistance in the development and advancement of their businesses. Lettuce Consulting has been flying under the radar of industry publicity for quite a while ... by design.

I'd been aware of Lettuce restaurants for years, but this was a new wrinkle I stumbled upon when I ran into an old friend, John Buchanan, at "foodlife" in Chicago.

John told me he was president of the Lettuce Consulting Group (LCG). When I looked puzzled, he explained that they are very selective about who they work with, choosing companies that are really committed to results and people they really think they can help. It was surprising to discover that some compatible, appropriate clients have been finding them for more than 15 years.

It all started with restaurateurs the Lettuce people knew personally, people who really needed help, and they thought it was the right thing to do. As more projects attracted their interest, the practice grew until it became a separate division of the company. The consulting projects they accept are still limited, but with the expansion of the LEYE portfolio, there are now more senior partners and chefs who are interested in the challenge of helping to improve other restaurant concepts.

John also made the point that in today's economic climate, the people in his company really like the idea of helping others continue to grow and thrive in this industry that has been so good to them.

And that's why I'm pleased to share the secret of this little-known, incredibly valuable resource. Because LEYE owns and operates restaurants in virtually every category, and with nearly every type of menu, the expertise and operating know-how LCG can call upon is almost limitless.

The success of their restaurants and the creativity that developed so many great concepts such as Maggiano's, Corner Bakery, Mon Ami Gabi, Big Bowl and Wildfire, allows the Lettuce Consulting Group to call on the right person to address any situation. These high-level experts are compensated at a reasonably high level, and their services cost somewhat more than other restaurant industry consultants. But their day-to-day experience makes their advice so much more valuable that completed assignments pay for themselves in increased sales and profitability.

LCG does not talk about the specifics of their projects and does not accept very many assignments. Considerable discussion, along with an understanding of the project and the people involved takes place before arrangements to begin the work are made. However, for the reasons stated above, the door has been opened a bit wider.

If you are involved with a significant restaurant chain or concept and feel the need for outside assistance from those that are considered the very best operators and developers in the industry, contact John Buchanan through the LCG website: www.lettuceconsulting.com.

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability , Industry Services , Operations Management , Professional Services

Barry Klein / Barry Klein is best known for creating the Ronald McDonald character and led the "You Deserve A Break Today" advertising campaign for McDonald's. In his current occupation as a marketing consultant, Klein has developed business-building concepts, new products and more for Coca Cola, Pizza Hut, Quiznos, Cadillac, Ruby Tuesday, Friendly’s, Perkins, Pay Less Shoes and others. He has been a key contributor to such projects as Stuffed Crust Pizza for Pizza Hut, Prime Rib Subs and Torpedoes for Quizno

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