They all miss the point of the story, which is crushingly relevant to startups:
If you build a company with people you like and love, and circumstances outside of your control force it to scale in a hurry, those people you like and love are going to get hurt in the process.
That's not an engineering problem to fix. Stanich's didn't need an algorithmic order filling solution, it needed to lose the people that made it Stanich's. It was doomed no matter what. It was unscalable; it's unscalability is what imbued it with what Alexander liked about it.
The story begins and ends with Stanich's parents and the reason why they started the business in the first place for a _massive_ reason, one that seems to have gone over the heads of most HN commenters (and I'll bet also most people reading it via HN), and that's at least as depressing as the story itself.
It bothered me some, but I always knew this was potentially in my future. They didn't. This will happen to everyone who runs a startup that has family or close friends involved, especially if they are your customers. Such is life.
"make friends in business, don't make business with friends"
that seems to apply here. in the face it sounds like dry advice, but it hints that the changes in business can hurt friendships. it's a sad reality for those that face it unprepared.
I think this article is a great advise to people running startups. The review is akin to raising outside money.
Not nit-picking, just hoping to clarify for non-native English speakers.
"Anecdotally, I went to Stanich's a few weeks before the shutdown. They certainly weren't getting overrun with customers at that point. The place was maybe a quarter full on a Friday night, and it was filthy. Dust everywhere, dishes left on tables, stains on the floor, the crust on the ketchup bottles indicating it had been at least a week since anyone bothered wiping them. We watched our food sit at the pass for five minutes before a waitress could be bothered to serve us. The place had all of the hallmark signs of a restaurant going under."
"Did Kevin Alexander hurt Stanich's business by giving them the press? Maybe. But Kevin Alexander isn't responsible for running the restaurant. It isn't Kevin Alexander's job to clean the tables or the floor or the dishes or the ketchup bottles. Stanich killed Stanich's."
One day, he's making the same burgers his dad was 70 years ago. The next, he's getting franchise offers and vitriolic reviews and personal issues. It seems he started cleaning and renovations, and just couldn't bring himself to reopen... much like how many of us here fail to launch startups.
All I can say is the food reviewer romanticized the place.
The burgers were good, but messy. Like the atmosphere.
Once Perry's opened down the road (now also closed) we kind of stopped going to Stanich's.
This whole episode is bizarre. The food really was not that good. Not by a long shot. Which makes what happened to them all the more sad.
Apparently, after my story came out, crowds of people started coming in the restaurant, people in from out of town, or from the suburbs, basically just non-regulars. And as the lines started to build up, his employees -- who were mainly family members -- got stressed out, and the stress would cause them to not be as friendly as they should be, or to shout out crazy long wait times for burgers in an attempt to maybe convince people to leave, and as this started happening, things fell by the wayside. Dishes weren’t cleared quickly, and these new people weren’t having the proper Stanich’s experience, and Steve would spend his entire day going around apologizing and trying to fix things.
And then, in a quieter voice, he started to explain why it wasn’t just two weeks. He asked me not to reveal the details of that story, but I can say that there were personal problems, the type of serious things that can happen with any family, and would’ve happened regardless of how crowded Stanich’s was, and that real life is always more complicated and messier than we want it to be.
And if people were paying attention, they would have noticed a lot of drug talk from Stanich. Why was Stanich so fixated on talking about drug problems? That usually happens when stuff hits close to home. All speculation on my part but I found it an odd topic for a burger restaurateur.
It’s weird you don’t think the author understands this, given the only reason you know any of that is because the author themselves told you. If he didn’t think it was important, he wouldn’t have included it.
It's also where waitstaff pass tickets through to the kitchen. Lots of passing going on back and forth. Hence "the pass".
We see this effect in Chicago regularly, as I'm sure people in NY and LA do as well; there's a biennial ritual of naming the new "best burger" in the city (it's Kuma's! no, now it's Au Cheval! no, Au Cheval is franchising, time for something fancier --- Mott Street! no wait, the Loyalist†). It definitely "ruins" the restaurant, in the sense that it becomes basically impossible to eat there anymore. But it's hard to fault the businesses for going along! They're there to make a living for themselves.
To the commenters saying Stanich should simply raise its prices: there's a price ceiling for that burger. It's not a fancy chef burger; it's a standard burger shop burger executed well. It seems like the only real scaling option Steve Stanich has, if he's not willing to piss off part of his clientele (a reasonable option!) is to partner and franchise.
† I'm particularly irritated about Loyalist because their bar has one of the best amaro collections in Chicago
If you have a five hour lineup for a burger, you need to raise your prices at least a little bit. You'll make more money overall, and your customers will be happy.
This guy ate at 330 different burger restaurants. He has a finely-tuned metric for what a good burger is (his #3 is also a neighborhood place he grew up with). He's set up to appreciate what Stanich is actually accomplishing with his burger. The average foodie tourist is unlikely to arrive armed with that context; they'll pay $30 for the burger, expect a revelation, and leave unhappy.
Oh, and as someone that gets fast food burgers once every week or two, Wendy's has always been particularly high on my list, and McDonald's recent switch to non-frozen patties for quarter pounders has also significantly raised the quality of that product. Even so, In-n-out is still better overall than either in my opinion.
Source: I've spoken with a few.
Elsewise I too encounter people who hold In & Out on a pedestal simply because of their food. Personally, I've tried and honestly but I just can't. McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Jack In The Box all have better burgers and fries than In & Out for me, but say that to the devout and you'll be shown the door faster than they'll tell you to go to Hell. It's amazing.
To give a random example that comes to mind: the burger is one of the most iconic/famous things on the menu at the Spotted Pig, which has a Michelin star. You can't really compare it to McDonald's any more than you could compare any other dish to the fast food version.
Similar situation, my mother is a lawyer mostly handling wills/estates and real estate deals. Small town law firm, sole practitioner. She's got too many clients, too much work, and she hates turning people away. She's got a small army of secretaries working their asses off. It's good business, but she wants to do less so that eventually she can retire.
She's trying a new strategy: raising prices every 3 months until there's exactly as much work as she wants to do. If things get a bit dry, she can lower prices a bit again. But by fluctuating ever so slightly, she can choose how much work she wants to do.
The opposite applies as well. If you have excess capacity that's going unused, you should lower your prices (down to the marginal cost anyway).
And yes, you can only raise it to a certain point, but you only need to raise it to a certain point: that certain point is the ceiling.
And you don't need to jump from $10 to $30 all at once. You just need to keep raising the price until you find the ceiling where your demand is more reasonable. It's probably more like 30-50% more, rather than 200% more, but who knows. Or better yet, charge more for peak times (like by offering a killer happy hour special during the slow times) to smooth out demand and also serve people who don't want to pay $30 for a burger.
Pricing that is based on cost plus some margin for overhead is so dumb. Price based on demand!
So, yeah I am explicitly saying that the price
ceiling and the demand for the burger aren't as neatly related as it looks, because the substitutes for this particular burger are going to be very close to it in quality (it's possible that for something close to 50% of patrons, this burger will be perceived as "worse" than other cheap burgers they've had, because opinions vary).
If this was that Raoul's burger, where it's ground short rib and brisket with a triple cream brie and a cognac cream dipping sauce, I'd be right there with you. But Stanich is apparently just a cheap diner burger very well executed (in Alexander's estimation, but I have no reason to doubt him). If you charge $30 for that, people will pay (once), and then feel ripped off. For a little while. Then word will get out.
It probably is the best cheap diner burger in America! The dude did the research! I'm just saying, you probably can't charge $30 for a cheap burger, sustainably. You'll do OK in the short term, and then irreversibly harm the business.
Scaling out makes a lot more sense. He probably should franchise.
And you don't need to charge $30. Charging a few extra bucks probably solves this problem without the downsides you're talking about.
Finally, I'm also not convinced those problems you suggest would be caused by charging $30 are actually problems. Maybe people feel like it wasn't worth it, but so what? Word gets out that the $30 burgers are overpriced...does that mean people will stop coming? There's an entire class of overpriced crappy restaurants that stay busy because of former glory, or location, or whatever. Like almost every big restaurant in a tourist zone of major world cities.
And if they DO stop coming, then doesn't that solve the original problem? Crowds dry up, you drop the prices back down, life goes on.
Just seems like almost anything would be better than throwing your hands up and shutting down the restaurant. Which ironically isn't even what happened here!
Remember, the 2nd place burger on his list is an absurd chef burger, even by the standards of chef burgers.
My favorite Chicago food writer has a bit about NYC pizza (he's a former NY-er) that I think captures the spirit of where I'm coming from, which is that the food tourists that seek out the best NYC slice have missed the point entirely, and that the best NYC slice is always within 1-2 blocks of where you're standing.
There's a distinction between being "great" and being "destination food" that this whole article is lamenting people --- I'd include this thread among those people --- not understanding. It's funny to see that misunderstanding expressed on HN in the language of HN --- product pricing and product/market fit.
That assumes that whatever it is that he was doing before things blew up can be scaled. I think it's quite possible that it can't. Particularly as, according to Alexander, the things that pushed the place over the top were intangibles about atmosphere, which isn't reproducible.
Also, "scaling" assumes that the owner wants to scale. If he's only interested in operating a neighborhood burger diner, he probably doesn't.
This sounds like exactly what Stanich would have wanted.
Waiting 5h has EXACTLY the same effect. The difference is that in one situation, he will make 10x more profit out of it and will be able to ride the hard months later on.
My solution would be $30 for tourists, $6 for anyone with a Portland ID and a loyalty card that you get in three seconds. That solves both issues mentioned (one-off, buckelist tickers and loyalty to locals).
This is one way to put it. Lets pretend that every burger isn't different, every cook isn't different, ingredients aren't the same from day to day, etc... Then it all becomes having the right combination on the day you get there. And this ignores how the reviewer is feeling, and what they ate and drank already that day and the day before.
Rubbish. Here's 2006 list of burgers that you must have before you die from GQ:
By Alan Richman who "traveled 23,750 miles and consumed more than 150,000 calories while taking the measure of 162 burgers across the country—with one goal: To find you the best damned assemblage of ground beef and buns this country serves up" -- the boss of a Thrillist writer probably did not even know about that infamous GQ list.
* Number 1 in NYC : Peter Luger. Still there. Accolades did not kill it.
* Number 1 in Philadelphia : Rouge. Rouge burger - still there. Restaurant is going downhill but it has changed owners multiple times -- Neil, who opened it, died a couple of weeks ago.
* Number 1 in Philadelphia (small sliders) : Barclay's Prime - of course it is also still there.
Oh, and yes Rouge raised its prices to handle the load that article generated - the place maybe sat 50, including the bar. And now since it is not as popular as it once was, the prices are lower.
> This guy ate at 330 different burger restaurants. He has a finely-tuned metric for what a good burger is (his #3 is also a neighborhood place he grew up with).
He was just not very good as the closure of his favorite burger places demonstrated.
Is that supposed to imply that as long as the food is good the restaurant will succeed? I've always viewed the food as being good as an almost essential, but by no means sufficient component to a restaurant's success. I've seen plenty of places with good food close.
But that's not the point - the list was of burgers: roll, meat patty, cheese, maybe some other stuff. The one that he raved about had gooish cheese etc. Were there also caramelized onions? It was the "we too can make a burger like those fancy places and not a greasy spoon diner next door".
Burger is a burger. The better the burger the higher its price could be if there are people willing to wait for it.
Chef's burger or no chef's burger - i mean hell, NY Burger Co's burgers beat some of the chef's burgers.
I'd rather have a good diner burger than a chef burger, but the whole point of the story is that the author of this ranking had one intention, his readers took away another, and the result was problematic for the restaurant.
It is unquestionable that the reviewer had no clue about a good burger - he picked OK burgers in OK places that were barely hanging on which is why his review targets did poorly. Compare that to burgers ( or restaurants ) picked by the Guy on DDD - in Philly that would be Good Dog, with its Good Dog burger - nothing special except that the cheese is injected into the patty, while it was cooked well enough by people who aren't that skilled at cooking. The wait went from 10-20 minutes to 1.5-2 hours. The place continued to sling the burgers ( and other stuff ) and continued to be popular year after year because unlike the clueless reviewer at Thrillist Guy ( who has a boatload of other problems ) at least can identify a good burger in a place that won't go out of business if its business increases by 400% ( not to mention 10% that his review did -- all of those numbers are well known - Food Network has all the numbers because they do hundreds of shows based on that. The so called magnificent changes in the fortunes of restaurants after Ramsay/Mission Impossible/etc mean 15-30% of receipt increases ) Good Dog was an anomaly in that because they did 3x in business based on the show airing for nearly a year ( DDD shows do ~30%-45% boost on average boost)
Supply and demand doesn't work as smoothly as you think. It's the same reason why huge TicketMaster fees exist -- so artists can sell tickets at a "fair" price (any higher would piss off fans) and TM takes the flak for all the "fees", many of which go to the artist/management in the end anyways. Or why shows sell out instead of raising prices -- people simply revolt at pricing they perceive as "unfair". And once they do, it's hard to get the good will back.
There was also a good discussion about it here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18025209
Sure, the tourists will attack you on Yelp and Instagram and accuse you of price gouging. But to hell with them and their opinion, on the long run only the opinion of the locals matters.
No need to be that adversarial. Put up a high price and advertise a discount for anyone who can show ID with a local address.
Also the strip is where the tourists are, and isn't technically the city of Las Vegas.
A lot of the behaviors people engage in on the strip would get you thrown out of a place that's more locals oriented. They don't take shit off strip.
They've probably made a trip to go eat it, what's another $5 or $10?
He and another chef student are assigned a local restaurant which is regularly and completely swamped by commuters; commuters flood the restaurant, everything is crowded, kitchen is over crazy, and then everyone evaporates to catch the next train home. Every day. Local eaters be damned. On the surface business is booming [daily rush of commuters!] but in reality there's a struggle.
Main character figures to go "reservation only". Walk-in commuters not allowed unless they have a reservation; no walk-by "I'll grab some sushi". Owners freak but are desperate... and things work out. A local comes in for his reservation and comments how he hasn't been able to come by for months because it's always so crowded, but he's oh so happy that the waitress remembers his regular order. Restaurant survives and within sanity.
Worse. The people who eat there change from those who enjoy food to those who enjoy the idea. That takes the right kind of pressure off the chef and owners and substitutes it with the wrong kind, e.g. Instagrammability.
I hear good things about the rest of Au Cheval's menu!
It turns out though that there was a secret to Hot Doug's, which is that you could just fax an order in and then skip the line to pick it up. I always worried that the line would murder me when I did that.
The real shame is that Au Cheval used to be a nice spot for a beer & burger on a street that was expensive.
Still hard to find good priced, good food on Randolph.
In NYC we see this for pizza and ramen and maybe dim sum, but not burgers for whatever reason. If you look at the top 10 burger places in NYC, some are ridiculously crowded and some aren't, but the ones that are crowded (e.g. The NoMad bar) aren't crowded because of the burgers. They're probably at capacity during peak hours at night, but you don't see hour long lines at 10am on a weekday like you do with some other food types.
That's incorrect. Chef driven burgers are no different from the other burgers - the prices are raised until the price no longer can be raised. As long as Suzi from Chicago is willing to make a trip to Portland and she does not balk at $14 burger, the burger should go up from $13 to $14.
It is a standard supply and demand issue. It is studied ad nauseam in business schools. Raising prices is a standard way to drop the demand. It works for restaurants because they are one of the simplest businesses.
This just happened for me with a tiny little southern restaurant down the street from me. For about a year, I would go there occasionally and have a great meal with my SO. Never needed a reservation. Then it got a three star review from the new york times and it won the James Beard Best New Restaurant award, one of two won by the chef that night. I've basically written it off, as I'll never be able to compete with every seattlite and food tourist breaking down the doors to get in. It's sad for me, but I'm glad he's gotten the recognition he deserves.
Is he the person to understand what will happen? Or is it more the writer who would understand that?
I'm unhappy about Au Cheval because the rest of the menu is relevant to my interests, but I can't eat there because it's a destination burger restaurant now.
But, back to the point of this article: my problems != Hogsalt Restaurants problems!
If you look at the best restaurants in America like the French Laundry in Napa, they charge astronomical ridiculous prices and they still have reservations for months ahead of time. The oldest restaurant in Paris requires you put down a 400 euro deposit just to make a reservation! That these burger joint owners shut down instead of raising prices seems like a huge business mistake. They could have put 50% off coupons in the local newspaper or something if they wanted to make the place available to locals at reasonable prices.
The restaurants we love, we love for the entire experience, and price is part of that experience. Even for people who can happily afford the higher price, it still results in a different experience. The people around you in the restaurant will be different. Your perception of the value of the meal will be different. Your willingness to try more adventurous items on the menu will be different. The whole thing is not just quantitatively different, but qualitatively different.
A $20 burger is not a $10 burger, regardless of how the two are prepared. If the former is not the experience the chef wants to create for their customers then, no, just raising prices doesn't "solve" the problem.
Raising prices sounds like the best strategy. You keep raising until the workload returns to normal. If you feel you're serving the wrong customers, you now have time to figure out how to fix that. Otherwise, if people eventually get turned off by the price and your workload goes down, you drop the price, and keep dropping it until you reach a stable point with just the right amount of orders.
And as the original commenter noted, you could put coupons in the local newspaper and the library and whatever else, so the locals have access to burgers at the old price.
Ask any family restaurant/bar owner in a seasonal tourist destination and they’ll explain why locals must be one of the first considerations before you make drastic changes. Particularly if an important reason for opening was a personal preference to serve locals over tourists in the first place.
It’s incredibly interesting to see how few people understand that someone may open a business with priorities other than massive growth potential.
It really is interesting, but hardly surprising, given the demographics of this forum. :)
Several of the local places do "frequent diner/visitor" loyalty cards, where the 5th or 9th meal (for restaurants), coffee (coffee shops), etc are free. This offsets the otherwise high prices charged on menu items.
Also, once a year (during the off season, of course), the local high school sells a booster card that gets a percent discount off for the entire year at numerous local places.
This is of course not unique to a touristy area, but I find myself using them far more often than in other places I've lived.
Any person travelling just coming by for the "best burger" probably would not want to spend $34 and not use that card anymore so $20 sounds great. Any regular would probably be super cool with paying that extra $30 knowing they can get a burger once a week or whatever for $4. This works out for the restaurant and the regulars, and like you said they can just hand out those cards to anyone for any reason.
Plus having special cards feels corporate, not homey. Looking at an ID for locals discount is pretty well trodden ground.
There are already markets for fake IDs, so unless you're suggesting that small local restaurants purchase scanners to confirm the authenticity of each ID, it would be relatively easy to circumvent this check too. (Some states require IDs to be scanned for selling alcohol, but many, e.g. in Oregon, do not, and the only check is some employee looking at a card in their hands for a couple of seconds)
> Plus having special cards feels corporate
Not at all. Plenty of local restaurants in my are (Portland, OR) have rewards cards, where you get stamps and a free meal after some amount of stamps.
It's possible there was something he could have done to make things good again... if he wasn't too burned out by the experience to figure it out and carry it out.
At best, it can be a target of a GoFundMe or something - but that's just to pay operating costs. The store itself has to operate like a normal capitalist store for the concept to work, accepting customers, charging money, etc. There is no concept in our society of a non-profit burger joint.
To give an example, charge exorbitant prices for burgers knowing there are still people desperate enough to try the burger that paying $30 is fine and then use the extra revenue to give back to the community, possibly by paying for the local soccer club to get a new clubhouse, or possibly by providing free/subsidized burgers at local events where the crowd will be local. In this way the business stays open and isn't overwhelmed by the demand, while not completely isolating itself from the local community that the owner wants to give back to.
Sure you won't necessarily meet demand, but there's no inherent reason quality need suffer(?).
Or, have a coop where staff wages soak up all excess revenue, giving zero profit.
You'd want a contingency, and a savings account if you seek to expand the business, but they're not profit.
We could do that with all businesses I think.
Maybe a better approach would be to jack prices up sky high for tourists and open another burger joint with a different name for locals.
If you’re a restaurateur, you probably don’t even live near that restaurant. But this advice is tantamount to: tell your friends and everyone who helped you get where you are that they’re too poor for you, now.
edit: To give another example, I have a kebab shop in my neighborhood who will not take any orders by phone let alone online. They dont have flyers or a web presence. Its a small street faced window run by an immigrant family who keeps the booth open throughout the day, from 11 to 11 longer or shorter depending on when they are out for the day. Most of the time the place is empty but during mealtimes there is regularly a line for half an hour. For the area, this is extremely well. And they sit right next to two other kebab shops, a pizza place and two asian places with mostly no line, literally the street down in 3 minute walking distance.
The reasonable thing would be to close the shop in the afternoon and take orders in advance, but thats not what they want for their shop. They want to talk and be a place where people meet, despite them not having any tables and not serving any drinks except a tea on the house from time to time.
And their food is absolutely amazing. Home made sauce and bread, it is worth the wait or to eat at 4pm in the afternoon. They dont let them self get rushed and it is always an amazing meal.
At the point where you're running 20 tables or more for three rounds every night (plus mabybe 2x lunch) you stop caring about making more money. Because if money were that important, you would have gone into investment banker, not chef.
Plus restaurants tend to get into and out of favour. IT'
And everyone hates tourist. Seriously: if you work anywhere close to tourists, you will hate work because it's full of tourists. Then you take a vacation and start hating yourself.
The whole idea is that non-locals are probably going to buy 1 burger per year or perhaps lifetime.
These kind of people don't fiddle with ebay and paying a random guy just to get 25% off of a burger that they will use once.
Someone that is only going to go there once or twice? Then it won't cause a problem.
Someone that isn't a local, but goes to the place over and over anyway? Consider them an honorary local.
Get creative you're now a destination restaurant and can charge $50+ a burger. Or go out of business I guess.
Imagine you were taking a trip to Dallas. You're taking PTO, paying for flight/hotel, and so on.
Are you really going to waste time buying a local's 30% off card on ebay that you will use once a year? Maybe once in your life? No way.
Even if you did, what is the result? A handful of people hustled you for a few bucks, but still generated profit for your restaurant.
Presumably it would also expire, so it would be that locals loss rather than the restaurants.
The food was merely okay. The story was that it was cheap and decent, not good. But as I stood looking at the staff I couldn't help thinking that it would be better for everyone if they raised their prices $2 a plate and just slowed down.
No matter how stupid, the jump by 50cent to 6€ gets me every time. It makes no sense, but I start to calculate what I could get instead on the cheap end. Breakfast to go is the same with 3€ to 3,5€ to 4€. I mean could get a portion of fried rice for 4€! Same goes for pizza or any number of take away items.
It doesnt help that most shop owners arent stupid and optimized for those thresholds.
And then, in a quieter voice, he started to explain why it wasn’t just two weeks. He asked me not to reveal the details of that story, but I can say that there were personal problems, the type of serious things that can happen with any family, and would’ve happened regardless of how crowded Stanich’s was
P.S. And then when the next "top N burger joints in America" list comes out that everyone goes crazy for and all the burger-tourists start going somewhere else now you've lost your local customer base and you might go out of business regardless. Raising prices works well if you're a fine dining establishment in a dense metro area and that's the kind of business you expect to run. It doesn't work so well for burger joints or BBQ shacks elevated to a bizarre level of temporary fame.
Then lower your prices again to match demand. It's almost as if prices aren't set in stone.
I seriously doubt it. Do you have any empirical evidence for this?
Maybe you truly can do that, but it is not easy.
Did they really make the place successful though? I don't see what exactly they contributed to the business. Had the locals not liked the food they probably would never have returned and would have also told all their friends never to go there.
Your old customer base was hopefully working, but your new customers expect the words greatest burger. Can you deliver on that hype?
The owner above payed month of utilities for an empty restaurant and has to make a sizeable investment to cater to that new customerbase.
Unless you didnt have a functioning business model beforehand, this is a real curse and puts your livelihood at stakes.
If I were Stanich, I would raise the prices but also offer reusable vouchers/coupons to all past customers, friends, and family so they can pay the original prices.
I can guarantee you there are famous NYC restaurants in my neighborhood where I can get a table even if there are lines out the door or reservations are completely full.
You just have to live in the neighborhood and actually put some effort forth to introduce yourself to staff and maybe go occasionally when you know it will be slow (like during a snowstorm or holiday). It does require a good manager/host though.
The only reason anybody cares about that reviewer's opinions are because he has a platform and people are desperate to belong to something, anything.
However, there are lots of definitely mediocre restaurants out there that would not make it to anyone's top ten list. So I'd have every reason to visit a restaurant on this sort of list as opposed to visiting a restaurant at random.
Personally, I'm OK with either grilled or raw onions (though I prefer raw). But there are lots of characteristics with few if any fans - soggy, overdone, cooked lettuce, etc.
The big thing is most restaurants don't have any reason to work at being good not to mention great. Most restaurants just soak up whoever happens to be in the area and has a preference for their type of food and so mediocrity not pretending to be anything else rules. Good-enough food at a good-enough price to make the owner a good-enough profit is it.
I disagree. It's not about "belonging to something". I agree with what the author wrote in the article. The problem is with the paradox of choice (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Paradox_of_Choice). Decisions are paralyzing when people are faced with a myriad of choices. "Best of lists" fix this problem for many people, which is why they are so universally popular across industries. Now instead of picking from a 1000 choices, you have 10.
What I find really sad about all this, though, is that it sacrifices the value of our own personal narrative and preferences. The idea that there is a "best" restaurant implies that my experience at it is irrelevant since "best" is apparently a customer-independent property.
That in turn implies that my own stories around which meals I loved are not worth telling to others. I think that's a terrible perspective. I'd much rather read an article about the top ten meals someone had — a narrative about them experiencing the food and not about the food itself — because it's ultimately people that matter.
Blasphemy! The one true greatest burger has both kinds.
Also, the grilled onions are between the meat and cheese so that the latter holds them in place.
There are so many variables.
Really? Yes, people are different, but this automatically invalidates you from any lists at all. Raw onions. Wow. Why not just eat an onion
"I don't like onions."
"Oh, how can that be?"
"Well, uh, they taste bad, I avoid them."
"Well, I think they're great [because I like them]."
And yet these kinds of worthless opinions are given credence to no end in all levels of discourse from casual small talk to high-class cuisine.
― Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
The owners took advantage of their good fortune and sold the business to someone else, who immediately started to "cut costs" by cheapening the ice cream. We went through two or three other owners, eventually landing on an out-of-state mega-dairy that just repackaged the cheap ice cream they sold in grocery stores - still sold as "best ice cream in America", the Ronald Reagan seal of approval.
Luckily, I could at least maintain standards in the kitchen, continuing to deliver all-vegetarian made from scratch soups daily and a nice selection of cold sandwiches made to order. But eventually, it died of neglect.
Luckily, the best takedown of a candidate was done by a customer - a PhD physics student who was a daily regular. At some point, GOP candidate Jack Kemp came in, with press in tow. He was touting his support for Reagan's "Star Wars" missile defense program. When he found an actual physics doctoral student, he asked what the student thought of it. Without blinking - and on national television - he said "The only physicists who think it will work are the ones getting paid to say it will work". It was beautiful.
It was a place for old dudes to get a Budweiser and watch the basketball game, which perhaps made it one of the more authentic places in town (if that's all it takes, I know dozens of places in Minnesota you'll love), but definitely not the best place to get a burger.
If you want a much, much better burger in Portland, go to the Super Deluxe, or go to Yakuza and order theirs, or even Killer Burger, or really just about any other place. Portland is an extremely competitive food town that regularly has burger competitions (http://www.portlandburgerweek.com/), and there are dozens if not hundreds of places where you can get a burger that will be better.
I understand that the article isn't necessarily about this, but I'm having trouble walking away from what I know from direct experience is a ridiculous decision. To give a perspective on how ridiculous this is to me, if I was asked to name just Portland's 50 best burger places, I'm not sure Stanich's would be on it. It's not negligent because he unleashed the internet hordes on this place, it's negligent because the burgers there just weren't very good.
It's an interesting reflection on the effect of the internet hordes that can be called up by a careless article or tweet. A similar thing happens to restaurants that receive the Michelin stars and to single individuals that end up being in more popular demand than can be sustained (this happens to some consultants). Not all of the typical defenses are available all the time, such as raising your prices or other ways of limiting the influx. Besides that not being fair to your original customers.
Hard problem, the internet mob is like a bunch of locusts, they devour that which they visit and leave it devastated.
Not disagreeing but the "they" is "us". You're not in a traffic jam, you are the traffic jam.
Other ones off the top of my head: air travel (popularity has led to fairly low prices, even if the experience has suffered for those looking for bargain basement prices), computers, coffee, beer.
What happens when nature goes viral - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Itjc14Fm-gs
Speaking of not fair, I'm imagining a scenario where prices fluctuate by the hour or by the customer. Maybe it's not unfair, but just different.
Dynamic pricing is the right answer for this, but people don't like it and it's hard to execute technically.
Back to the article: seems this is why Shake Shack succeeded and prospered with one store being inundated by customers. I'm sure this place has a lot of smart money wanting to use their name and recipe. Maybe not such a bad outcome?
The hot dog cart in Madison Park that originated Shake Shack was stocked by the kitchen of Eleven Madison Park (then a Meyer owned restaurant) which sits next to the park, has three Michelin stars and in 2017 was #1 on the World's 50 Best Restaurant's list.
Some restaurants become popular because people with money are in the right place at the right time, and not because it was an old-school authentic eatery discovered by a food writer and put on a top-foods-list.
You have to understand and emphasize with someone's goals for starting and running a business. It's not always money and notoriety. Sometimes it's just that someone wants to do a certain thing with their waking hours.
Off-topic question: how does a submission gets front page with just 3 points?
"But on the other hand, that's kind of a destructive process because if I name the place - and I don't always when it's a place like that - I've changed it. The next time I go back, there's tourists. There's people who've seen it on the show. And then I might hear from the same person from that neighborhood say, you ruined my favorite bar, (laughter) you know? All the regular customers have run away and it's filled with, you know, tourists in ugly T-shirts and flip-flops. There are times that I have looked at the camera and said, look, I'm just not going to tell you where this place is. I don't want to change it. It should stay like this forever. I do do that now and again."
Maybe it's more sophisticated like votes must be from people with high karma points?
I'd have no shame about asking for some free haircuts as well. Your review is probably responsible for increasing their business 1.3-1.5x
It would be funny, although not culturally normal, to see companies start to review customers.
And, no I have not, because I don't want to wake up at 5:00am while on vacation and drive to a crowded parking lot to watch the sunrise in the cold with 80-100 strangers.
Why is it that we all have to have the same experiences?
If your life looks perfect on FB/Insta/Snap I just assume you are empty inside. Well "produce" our lives a little but some people go so far out of their way I just don't understand how people can follow that shit and not see how vapid/fake/BS it all is. Like serious this  fuck right off. I in no way endorse or support the backlash she got but it just all seems so stupid and wasteful to me.
What if the mechanics of camera/social photo apps rewarded people for taking original photos?
We all want a magical experience in a drive-thru window, and we fear missing out. If you live on the east coast, you could go to the Caribbean cheaper and quicker, but it's not Hawaii!. The Caribbean is beautiful, but Hawaii is magical! At least, that's what we're told by the travel agencies. Then you arrive and realize it's basically the Caribbean with a Wal-Mart and better hiking (and more rain)
Maybe one day. I guess I'd rather pack in as much surfing as I can.
I don't feel I've missed out on the Haleakalā sunrise thing, I just think it's funny that that is always the first thing people ask.
Some of them seem to almost discount my trip when they found out I didn't go.
I went to Haleakalā after being recommended to go after a visit to the big island. The early morning that I went via a local outfitter, it was raining cats and dogs, visibility nada, so it was wet and uncomfortable. I had opted for the ride down the mountain on bikes option which seemed adventurous at the time. Riding down fearfully slick roads and switchbacks with limited visibility and having the bike ride leaders joke about having to pull guests out of ravines with ropes did not help. But that was my personal Haleakalā experience.