Porcini's Pronto

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Porcini's Pronto: "Great Italian cuisine without the wait!"
Porcini was opened in 1969 as a family-owned restaurant chain and its business was successful with 4% profit margin. Porcini’s was renowned with its attention to quality and price premium was relatively small compared to its quality and artful presentation. Porcini’s was able to maintain its high product and service quality mainly because it was a family-owned restaurant chain which gave considerable amount of control and of its safe approach on company expansion decisions. However, the management was also viewed as go-slow and comparing to its competitors like Olive Garden and other full-service chain restaurants like Denny's, Porcini’s brand recognition was much lower. The U.S. restaurants industry had three major segments: fast food, single location full-service restaurants, and full-service chain restaurants. Porcini's senior management came up with a Pronto concept which could possibly open up a new area which no one has entered yet. Key features of the Pronto concept included locations at interstate highway exits, Porcini's quality food and service with faster turnover of tables, and limited beer and wine selection. Main competitors would be fast food chain which has been operating along the interstate systems for decades and specifically targeting for travelers, and also full-service chain restaurants like Denny's. It will be critical to come up with a clear differentiator to its competitors, on both quality and service, and position itself against them. Chef Molise was taking it very serious on developing a special Pronto menu which would be less extensive with slightly lower price than Porcini’s traditional menu. Also, Halloran, who was Porcini’s HR director, put significant amount of effort onto recruiting the right people and form a “Pathfinder Team” with 3 or 4 outstanding Porcini’s employees at each new Pronto’s location. One full week of training and indoctrination in the rapid, quality service strategy and its implementation elements would be given. On the hiring side, it was a serious one. Pronto job applicants would have to pass several screens which include interviews with HR, then Pathfinder Team, and the manager. And a personality assessment test was given. It would seem logical and make sense to put focus on creating a customized menu, hiring the right people, and form a team with existing outstanding employees to bring current best practices to the new restaurants. However, it might be in the wrong direction or overkill sometimes. For the customized menu for Pronto, it was basically a stripped-down version of traditional Porcini’s menu, so what differentiated it from Porcini’s? And why customers should come to Pronto which had less menu choices, and not Porcini’s? Even though it’s a faster service didn’t mean customers would accept lower food quality, even just a slight one. And most importantly, Porcini’s didn’t ask if it mattered to them. On getting the right people for Pronto restaurants, was it actually a good idea to form a team with existing employees, while the business nature was much different? Porcini’s focused heavily on food and service quality, where Pronto focus on quick service experience without sacrificing much food and service quality. It would be doubtful if employees could switch their practice so easily and quickly. If they could not, imagine how it might impact the new hires in the team. In order to make sure Porcini's Pronto could maintain the same level of quality of food and service, a customer questionnaire system was created to collect information on customer satisfaction. The idea was great and it offered a discount card to customers who took the questionnaire, in order to bring up questionnaire completion rate and encourage repeat visits. However, the entire questionnaire focused only on food and service quality like meal quality, courtesy and efficiency of server, restaurant cleanliness etc.,...
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