#48 Mike Wendling – Michelin-star training accelerates restaurateur’s success
As a restaurateur and chef, Mike is no stranger to the kitchen; in fact, he has over 20 years experience working primarily in 2 and 3-star Michelin restaurants in France. He came to China in 2006 to open “le Royal Meridien” hotel where stayed for 5 years. After that he had the opportunity to open his first restaurant “Cuivre” then the second, then the third… Today Mike is going to share with us tips, tricks and lessons learned from his entrepreneurial journey thus far.
You always have to be awake and aware to know what’s going on in the city.
How he got to China
Like it says in his intro above, Mike first came to China with le Royal Meridien, but it really was years of traveling to Asia as a consultant that led him to make the move to Shanghai in 2006. At that time Shanghai was bustling with opportunities in the F&B industry.
His current project
Mike’s first endeavor, Cuivre, began three years ago serving french exquisite cuisine in Shanghai. Next was T for Thai and finally Cu2+, known for it’s burgers. Mike looks after everything, from accounting to human resources, and of course he’s still in the kitchen regularly! Tune in to hear the four components you must have to be successful as a restaurateur in China.
Mike restaurant was so successful that he didn’t spend enough time doing market research for T for Thai. He made the assumption that because he already had a following for his french cuisine, the customers would automatically come. It took 8 months of adjustment for him to get on the right track.
Lessons learned along the way
- You must constantly train your staff. The moment you stop, your level of service will go down.
- Don’t assume that your concept will work in China. Go around and take the time to see what’s in place and see what’s working.
- Don’t copy – on design, food, or concept – or you’ll always end up #2.
- Have enough funds to last 6-8 months before you break even in China (in other markets it may be 2 years, but everything works faster in China).
- Don’t skimp on quality if you’re not breaking even yet. You’ll steadily decline if you do so.
- China can be a gold mine, but only if you do you due diligence and plan, prepare properly.
How Mike stays motivated
I like his practical approach. Mike says that you just need to let it go. For him, on a bad day he gets back in the kitchen, focuses on the cuisine, and let’s the stress melt away. In the end, he reminds us that when we’re having a bad day, we simply must push through it.
Connect to Mike
Stop by any of Mike’s restaurants or email: firstname.lastname@example.org