The awesomely named Ethel Hammer of The National Culinary Reviewwho really needs to begin starring in a detective series tout de suitehas penned a piece examining the role of menu consultants in the modern restaurant environment.
The piece does a solid job of elaborating on what consultants do at their finest: sorting through menus to identify clinkers, moneymakers, and sentimental anchors, or adapting a restaurant’s beloved standards to non–totally bastardized airplane-food equivalents. But it does little to explore the inevitable darker side of the profession. Good consultants in any field can bring powerful positive change to a business, but bad consultants can bury a struggling business or simply act as a cosmetic mask for an owner’s harebrained ideas.
The story also looks at a consultant technique that’s euphemistically called “the trickle-down effect.” This is also known as “eating at wd-50 and selling their ideas to restaurants in Cleveland.”