Friday, April 24, 2009

Business Tips from Restaurant City

Proof once again that I take my gaming WAY too seriously, here are some practical business tips I picked up from playing Restaurant City.

Restaurant City is a game produced by Playfish, and is currently one of the most popular games on Facebook. It's my new productivity sink. As I understand it, Cowboy Caleb is also on this game. I am currently using the Cowboy as my toilet washer.

The game is incredibly subtle in its complexity. The basic premise of the game is that you must run a restaurant, decide on menu, layout, etc. You earn money and experience based on the number of customers you serve (i.e fail to piss off).

The "hook" of this game, apart from tapping into the nesting instinct, is that there are many business and economic principles that are at play in this game. My observations are based on some of these.


1. Think pipeline, not just production

One of the interesting game mechanics here is replicating, in some respects, the "supply chain" of the restaurant business. Essentially, you must cook, serve and clear the table ready for the next customer.

One of the early mistakes I made was to improve food production without improving my serving and clearing capability. I did this by upgrading the quality of my stoves, thinking this would clear a bottleneck of cooking (which was, at the time, what I perceived as a weakness of my sales model).

Instead of making things better, I made things worse. My poor waitress couldn't keep up with the production of food. Instead of clearing tables, she shifted her time into shuttling between the kitchen and the tables serving food.

What made matters worse is that I created a situation where 2 upgraded stoves could not duplicate the capability of 3 normal stoves (i.e I couldn't just reallocate a cook to a waiter) and still keep production up at a capacity that I wanted.

My solution in the end is to tough it out until I can afford another staff but I'll be clear about this - it -has- hurt my business and I see a couple of friend-competitors overtake me in this time period.

2. Lessons of scarcity - What's your comparitive advantage?

The game starts you off with one starter, one main and one dessert. In that sense, everyone starts off "trained" in the same menu choice.

What's interesting about my subset of friends is that they, in large part, have all opted to be "trained" in the same menu choices. I don't blame them. In that sense, since you started with something "free", if you focus on that option, you are essentially getting one "upgrade" for free.

However, the interesting thing is that due to this, everyone in my subset is hunting for more or less the same ingredients. You need those ingredients to improve your menu choice. However, if everyone hunts for the same ingredients, those ingredients become much harder to obtain.

One thing I did right in this game by accident - I deliberately chose a menu choice that few other people in my subset of friends duplicated. In that sense, I have a nice distributed menu choice where I do not have to stress about where to get surplus ingredients.

3. Make your customers work - Get within their decision loop

One of the keys to success, I found, in Restaurant City is the ability to get within your customers' decision loop. Essentially, a customer is simulated into making a decision based on whether you have a table open and cleaned, whether you can produce food fast enough to fulfil their needs, whether you have a clean toilet available, etc.

One of the keys I've found to serving large numbers of customers fast is to create a "tiered" priority system. In other words, I place some seats much further away and make it more difficult to get to them. I place other seats right next to the door. In the time that it takes for a customer to get to the back seats, I'd have had a slight time advantage in fulfilling the orders of the customers, while staggering the impact on my own time.


These are just some observations that I've found generally applicable to business. I'm sure you guys have more. Let's share them!


alexis said...

also never to ignore ur staff needs - always feed/rest them when % goes below 75! that little money spent will translate to popularity ratings.

Anonymous said...

quality of stove does not affect the cooking time

it is always 16 secs

Anonymous said...

key to efficiency is to minimize waiter movement, i.e island layout model

program acne said...


Restaurant City Tips said...

There's alot of Restaraunt City Tips Here

Anonymous said...

Here are more tips, tricks, guides on Restaurant City

Anonymous said...

I commend you for making this analogy!!! It really exercises your mind while playing, and the principles work, too

Anonymous said...

I found that if you place all of your tables around the waitor then he does not move considering how slow they are. for example:

C = Chair T = Table W = waitor
S = Stove

Allen said...


I'd like to ask for an exlink to your post to mine. Mine is at
Restaurant city tips

Thanks, sorry if I look like spam but I'm not :)

wendy seow said...

click the trees around ur restaurant u get coins !

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Belle said...

Hello! Thanks for these tips. Though I'm also looking for some info on online payroll services and outsourced accounting services for payroll. Las Vegas is where I had put up a small restaurant, and I'm planning to expand it, but I can no longer handle the financial matters.

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Raela Drigger said...

Resto-themed social network games have become a huge hit among netizens. These aren't just enjoyable; they're also educational because they can help teach people how to run a business.

Raela Drigger

franchise business in the philippines said...

Opening your own business is an exciting venture. One of the first things you should do to ensure your success is write a business plan.Anyway, thank you for the tips so informative.