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Restaurant Consulting Program
A consistent theme of public input was the lack of establishments in the city of Manchester that offer higher-end, sit-down dining on a regular schedule. Multiple stakeholders said they would like the option of a nice restaurant where they can go for a night out, have a glass of wine, and maybe see some entertainment. Based on this finding, McClure reached out to experts in Iowa’s restaurant sector to assess the viability of launching a restaurant concept of this type in Manchester. The feedback we received was that the city should instead focus on supporting the existing fine dining establishments it has as well as the full complement of local restaurants that would benefit from guidance on how to best grow their businesses. This sentiment was consistent with a complementary input finding; namely, that Manchester actually has higher-end dining options but they struggle to attract consistent business.
How it Works
A Restaurant Consulting Program would leverage professional expertise to work with existing Manchester restaurants to help them improve their marketing, operations, menus, and other components. McClure recommends the Program be implemented through a contract with the Iowa Restaurant Association (IRA).
As per the contract, IRA President, Jessica Dunker, would travel to Manchester to meet one-on-one with representatives of each of the participating establishments for one hour each. The Association would operate under confidentiality agreements signed with each participating establishment and gather information pertinent to each establishment. Unless the information is considered a “trade secret” or if an operator has requested information remain confidential, McClure (or local officials) would receive reports of these discussions. Based on the one-hour meeting:
- The IRA will then assemble a confidential needs assessment for each location and identify operators from across the state whose expertise can be leveraged in each situation
- The IRA will identify team operators, culinary educators, marketing professionals, chefs, and/or individuals affiliated with the Iowa Restaurant Association who can lend their expertise to one or more of the participating restaurants
- McClure (or local officials) and the Iowa Restaurant Association will arrange a “consulting day” on which the IRA will bring the full expert team to Manchester. Each restaurant will be assigned a team of one or more of the operators/experts based on their assessed needs. Those experts will travel between those establishments throughout the course of the day
- The restaurateurs will share their findings with the Iowa Restaurant Association
- The IRA will assemble and deliver its recommendations to McClure (or local officials) within two weeks of the consulting day. The document will contain a series of recommendations to the community as well as individual recommendations for each participating establishment. Often, local matching funds will be sourced equivalent to the amount of the restaurant’s investment to support implementation of the recommendation.
The cost of the program is a base contract of $3,000 and a charge of $1,500 per restaurant (inclusive of expenses) receiving IRA consulting. That number would drop to $1,000 for four or more restaurants.
Discussions with a local high-end restaurant owner confirmed that the consulting program would be of interest, although the owner cautioned that the Manchester restaurant sector was very competitive and difficult to capture sustained market share.
Tactical implementation steps are included in Appendix G.