A first opinion
I will start my article, answering the question the title asks us, always from my position as author. Perhaps many people disagree, but I will try to illustrate it during my presentation.
No. I consider that it is not a new trend, but something improved, adapted to the circumstances and the era in which it is being resumed. If we go back in time we can talk about that great idea of offering soups and broths at home to travelers and hungry in ancient France and that gave rise to the word Restaurant. Similarly, there is evidence that in ancient Greece, in some of its houses, meals were prepared to be sold, which could be consumed at home or taken away. In this way, I allow myself to say that, although at different times, the palates come to be a renewal of those first attempts.
The origin of the Paladares in Cuba
At the beginning of the 90s in the middle of the Special Period, Cuban television began broadcasting a Brazilian soap opera whose plot focused on a housewife with a bad economic situation and who began to prepare sandwiches to solve her shortages. The success of his offer and the recognition of his culinary skills allowed him to create a chain of restaurants whom he called "El Paladar".
The food situation of the time, and the example that this telenovela provided, allowed many entrepreneurs to consider the possibility of offering a solution to these needs combined with preparation in such a way that the food and the time required to cook it at home were guaranteed. In essence, the business consisted of offering different preparations to be consumed on the spot or to take away. These small establishments began to be known as “El Paladar”, but it was not until their legalization by the government that their owners, in order to differentiate them, began to assign them names (brands). In this way, today they can be recognized as the Paladar “X” or “Jota”.
Las Paladares seen as a business
I must admit that although it is not a new trend, they are important business opportunities. Firstly, because the main investment does not lie in the architectural plan, but in the acquisition of the necessary raw materials to be able to compose the offers.
The own recognition that these establishments today enjoy, becoming an important competition for their own restaurants conventional1They have led some Cuban universities to consider studying them; thus, they have been the subject of various undergraduate and postgraduate theses.
Something that I consider important is that, although there were other private activities, it was the palates and coffee shops that revolutionized the concept of private commercial activity in the country.
In this sense, I will summarize some aspects, based on certain indicators, that will illustrate those characteristics that identify a Palate, and consequently I will make some comparisons with restaurants conventional
Compared to restaurants Conventional palates are limited in the number of clients that can attend at a time of maximum load, both from the architectural level, for being conceived in the home space, and for the regulations that in this sense and in the process of recognition as a business the Government has established. Only 3 to 4 tables of 4 people in each are admitted; which consequently makes it impossible, no matter how successful it is, to respond to a growing demand.
The staff that makes up the collective of a Paladar is "empirical2" The business must be managed and offered by the hosts themselves. They are also limited to developing training plans, as it is an activity outside the business framework.
Process of Efficient
Conversely to restaurants Conventional palates do not have integrated systems of management computerized that offer as much information as necessary. Not having a business structure, I mean, the non-existence of various departments such as human resources, accounting and warehouses, controls are concentrated on production (income, costs and expenses) and the recording of its operations is done manually Therefore, it can be said that the purchasing process, as well as the control over operations, is based on experience.
Quality - Service
To be small spaces, and although they do not have Efficient of Quality, they show a sense of belonging that are translated into personalized attention to customers, immediacy of response to the needs that arise and a careful care that it satisfies all their needs in the consumption process. This compensates for the absence of the protocol norms of serving in a classical way, and that of rituals such as wine or tobacco. It can also be said that they focus their business on the client, they use, mainly the verbal route to attract them and not advertising since it is not allowed.
The offer or menu is limited. Dishes based on lobsters and beef or beef are absent, since their acquisition for this type of business is limited. However, they fulfill their objective of offering, and although they have not conceived it that way, the traditional dishes that make up the table of a Cuban family and which become the attraction of the business.
The conception and setting of prices is done on a personal basis. Generally, these prices exceed those of conventional restaurants, that is, they are higher, motivated by the fact that raw materials are purchased at retail prices.
Far superior to many conventional restaurants. They enjoy being sued by international tourism and by natives. No pricing policies are drawn up, but only take into account the costs of the goods. The criterion of obtaining a specific or average gross margin is not applied, but they fix looking for some greed.
Costs and expenses
They are taken into account, as in any business, however, as with prices, the criterion of operating at a certain percentage of the cost is not applied, but rather prioritizes that under any circumstance the elaborations have an exit and are compensated with the income that are obtained. In the same way, they enjoy the freedom of being able to make market cuisine, by being able to acquire certain products on the day, which has outlet on the day itself.
Unlike conventional restaurants, they do not have scandalous systems that allow the cost of the different offers to be calculated more efficiently. Many have described their technical specifications in models.
The marketing process includesseveral phases that are reflected below: management of inventories, basically the replacement of goods, is carried out when they are out of stock. So the existence of money immobilized by large inventories is not a concern. Also due to the characteristics of the premises in which this type of business is carried out, it does not allow the allocation of premises for dry, frozen and preservation products, which forces it to only be purchased when necessary. There is no provisioning policy, but rather disposing if the demand is presented.
Although they make their income declarations and tax payments and to the treasury in the currency in which their commercial license establishes it, internally, which represents a strength of the business, the collection of the services they offer is made in any of the currencies that can be exchanged in the country, therefore the customer is free to pay in the currency that suits him best. Likewise, they lack, and what represents a weakness, the means for electronic payment.
In the table below, I summarize these indicators, comparing them with conventional restaurants:
|Capacity||Unlimited. They can serve as many clients as they have tables in the space occupied by the room.||Limited. Impossibility of internal growth.|
|Human Resources||Professionally trained.||Empirical.|
|Organizational structure||They have formal structures, made up of different direct and service support departments.||They do not have a formal structure. All actions are carried out by personnel recognized for the business (owners).|
|Management process||They have computerized programs for recording and controlling the operations that are carried out.||They are done manually.|
|Quality and Services||Quality Management Systems are designed and applied. The different processes that occur are identified and the corresponding improvements are made.||Although they do not have quality programs, they conceive it as a cardinal necessity for business.|
|Purchases and inventories||These processes are done on the basis of the application of models and systems. There are areas for storage according to the type of product and there are replenishment policies.||Both are improvised. Purchases according to the need of the day. Raw materials are kept in premises that have been adapted.|
|Income, Costs and Expenses||Planned. Goals are set. They have technical sheets and production scandals.||Unplanned. Some have descriptions of the different recipes that are made, but do not have scandalous systems.|
|Prices||Regulated. Pricing standards are established that are regulated by the government and that operate at margins and percent of planned costs.||They have all the freedom to set prices.|
|Currency of operations||Just one. The one that prescribes the commercial license of the business. They have the means for electronic collection.||Any exchangeable currency. Only Cash is allowed.|
Although the study of palates is a daily subject, because they are micro companies that, although they are limited in some aspects by the regulations to which they are subject, have been successful, and that success has forced them to be studied because they become competition to be taken into account by conventional restaurants. In the same way, these characteristics that I summarize below constitute partial conclusions about this type of business, which although, as I said at the beginning of the article, is not a new trend, if they are worthy of recognizing as an effort to creativity of private entrepreneurs, which by adopting forms and methods to the circumstances in which they operate have managed to flourish and be recognized, not only at the national level but also at the international level.
Conclusions - Characteristics of the Paladares business
They are businesses designed for small operations.
They take place in a family environment.
Its success does not determine or make possible its expansion or internal growth or to other areas than those where it was conceived. They are immovable.
The hiring of personnel is not allowed. All administrative and service actions must be executed by their owners.
They cannot develop training plans.
The response to demand is affected by the capacity of the premises.
They can develop market cuisine.
Their offer is limited. There are dishes based on raw materials that are not allowed for marketing.
They facilitate payment to customers' cash by accepting any exchangeable currency.
They cannot make electronic collections.
The purchases of raw materials are made at the market price and not at cost.
They have become in competition for conventional restaurants.
They have become a source of study by researchers and the competition itself.