Is Shifting Blame a Problem in the Hospitality Industry?

April 01 2014 – Robert Fiumara

One of the most interesting components of working in the hospitality business with failed restaurants is blame. Opening a restaurant is a huge emotional and financial risk – sometimes it’s a lot easier to spread the blame around after making dozens of personal sacrifices than it is to consider that what you’re doing might not be working for you.


Hospitality has always been a “thing”, but for restaurant owners the idea of how hospitality influences every aspect of the business is becoming a more popular one. Restaurant owners must now consider how the presentation of the restaurant, the service, the dress of the staff, hygiene and many other factors influence patrons. One bad experience and word travels like wildfire. Yelp is a great example of how that happens.


Shifting Blame


Ever watched Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares? We’ve talked about Gordon Ramsay a few times on this blog. He’s an interesting fellow, but his show does give you the idea that he’s very passionate about the restaurants he tries to rescue.


Nine out of ten times, many restaurant owners who have asked for his help are more interested in passing the buck than in taking accountability for things that are going wrong in the restaurants. Cleanliness, over ordering of food and bad customer service are just a few complaints we commonly see on the show.


Does This Translate to Real Life?


Obviously any reality show is heavily edited to create over-the-top drama where there isn’t any. For many restaurant owners, there’s enough drama going on in a successful or normally operating restaurant that many regular viewers would be surprised. The key difference is blame. A successful restaurant is built on ensuring the proper standards are in place and taking responsibility for/correcting any situation where modification is necessary.


For struggling businesses, it can be noted that when the hospitality factors takes a nosedive, so does business. Customers don’t want to be in a situation where they feel unwelcome – why would they? Many struggling restaurants don’t want to take responsibility for failed management, rotten food or cleanliness issues. It’s much easier to pass the buck than to blame owners or managers who are supposed to be enforcing these standards.


At the end of the day, running any kind of successful business is about accountability. Chefs are accountable for pleasing customers, keeping menus fresh and creating a great, sustainable product – but restaurant owners and managers are accountable for being the thread that holds the restaurant together. The key to success in hospitality is taking full responsibility for both good and bad experiences our customers have. Managing hospitality gives us a full spectrum of those experiences – how we handle them is up to us.

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