The Story of Mr. Boulanger

A few years ago, I read a story in National Geographic titled “Who Invented the First Modern Restaurant?” Unsurprisingly, it was a Parisian chef known as Mr. Boulanger. His infamous dish of sheeps feet simmering in white sauce caught the attention of the growing French upper and middle class. Mr. Boulanger convinced them for the first time to leave their own personal kitchens and venture to this new form of dining called a “restaurant”; the French verb restaurer, meaning “to restore or refresh.”. This kicked off a 250 year-old tradition of dining out, which we now know encompasses bistros in Paris to burgers in America. There are restaurants on every street corner, in every town.

“Mr. Boulanger must have looked like the fat and happy Chef Gusteau from Ratatouille (unlike the many chefs today that resemble Russian tattooed prisoners who spent a winter in Siberia).”

To operate a restaurant today, as it was 250 years ago, is like living in a time vacuum or worse yet, a tiny hamster wheel. Everyday we wake up, arrive at our restaurant, and hope our night will be as busy as yesterday. Moreover, as we turn on the lights, clean our tables, and spend time in our dank paper-filled office researching yet another new POS solution, we still wonder whether our restaurant will ever gain that permanent neighbourhood or destination status we have worked so hard to achieve, or whether we fall out of vogue without really knowing the real reason why?

It is essential to not understate the significance of this operational stagnation. When a business only makes money one way, the same way, since its beginning, how does it even begin to tackle the challenges faced by a crisis of this magnitude? The current model does not enable it to.

“Although you might not be able to see it yet, the pandemic has awoken a new understanding amongst restaurateurs and their customers.”

We want restaurants to remain the cornerstones of our main streets. They are businesses that create vibrancy, culture, and important places for gathering in our communities. What we don’t want is restaurants that cut costs, reduce product quality, and skirt labour laws in an effort to stay afloat. Despite many choosing this ill fated path, it is an inevitable death march for a restaurant.

“Sadly, 30% commission on takeout and a few hail mary hashtags will not save this important pillar or our society and our respective cultures.”

In the next article, we will look at just how flawed the dining room economics are and why the key to unlocking it is right under our noses.

An expert in dining room economics and the guest experience, Frazer Nagy is an entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tablz, a Transparent Kitchen company, committed to a vision of changing the way the story of your dish is communicated and helping restaurants finally become profitable businesses.



Parent company of TABLZ, a premium guest service tool, changing your dining room economics….forever.

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Transparent Kitchen

Parent company of TABLZ, a premium guest service tool, changing your dining room economics….forever.