The geographic location of your restaurant is the most important factor that you need to consider when thinking about the size of the food challenge at your restaurant. One of the things that I stress to people interested in food challenges is that all stomachs were not created equally. No matter how much a person trains, that person may never be able to eat as much as some other people simply because his or her stomach cannot stretch as far. You can put a 5lb burger in front of 10 different people and every single person will have a different result regarding how much was eaten and how long it took to eat that much. An eater cannot base his or her training off other people because other people are made differently with different characteristics. This same theory works for restaurants too, meaning that no restaurant is the same and just because a food challenge works at one restaurant, that does not mean that the same challenge will work at your restaurant too. If you want to create a successful food challenge for your restaurant, you have to consider where your restaurant is located and how that affects your clientele, which is usually always overlooked, and most definitely always regretted.

The best way to describe how geography affects the clientele of your restaurant is by relating it to high school football in America. In most states, schools are divided up into divisions based on school size, and bigger schools compete with bigger schools while smaller schools compete with smaller schools. Every team plays 11 players at a time, but smaller schools can’t compete with bigger schools because the bigger schools have much more talent because there are so many more people to choose from to play on the team. This relates to food challenges and restaurants too, believe it or not. Larger cities have many more people located in the city, and therefore there are more possible big eaters, so restaurants in big cities are able to successfully have larger challenges than restaurants in smaller cities. Restaurants in small towns have less people around and therefore there is a smaller number of big eaters. To make up for this lack of big eaters, smaller town restaurants need to have smaller food challenges, or at the very least they should have a longer time limit for the challenge than a big city restaurant would. Here are some very helpful tips for restaurants and diners based on geography:

Larger city restaurants – If you are wanting to host a quantity challenge in a big city that is free if completed, you should create a challenge that is 3 stars or larger with a time limit over 30 minutes, meaning it should be at least 5lbs (2.25kg). If you want to have a 2 star challenge (3.5lbs-5lbs) that is free if completed, you should make the time limit less than 30 minutes. Bigger cities have more bigger eaters, so you will be giving out too many free meals if you have a medium sized challenge with a longer time limit. If you are set on having a 50 wing challenge, it would be best for a larger city restaurant to have a 30 minute time limit while a smaller city restaurant should definitely have a 1 hour time limit because there are not as many big eaters that can eat as fast as the eaters in the big cities. To make a long story short, it is ok for bigger restaurants to think bigger, just as long as they don’t think too big. If a restaurant wants to have a really big challenge (4 or 5 stars), they need to have a prize that makes attempting the challenge worth the effort for the eaters. It is also ok to think bigger because bigger cities get more travelers than smaller towns, meaning that there are even more possible big eaters that might eat at your restaurant. Before you think too big though, read Bigger Is Not Always Better.

Smaller town restaurants – This article is most important for restaurants in small towns because many smaller restaurants try to create big challenges like they have in big cities, and they just don’t work. If a small town restaurant wants to have a large challenge (3 stars), then the time limit should be no less than 45 minutes. From what I have seen, unless you plan on having a significantly large cash prize, completely eliminate the thought of having a very large challenge (4 or 5 stars) because there just aren’t any eaters around you that can eat that much, making your challenge pointless for your regular customers. If you have a prize though, the challenge can possibly work because a few people will still try it just because of the prize offered, especially if you price the challenge right. You may get a few winners but they will most likely be from nearby bigger cities, just traveling to your restaurant specifically to win your challenge and leave. If you want to actually get local customers involved, then you should consider creating a 2 star challenge. Creating a speed challenge vs a medium quantity challenge is up to you, but at least a few of your customers will have a chance of winning, creating a better atmosphere and more successful challenge so that in the end you will achieve having more customers in your restaurant. That is the purpose of having a challenge in the first place, so please don’t disregard the advice.

Small town restaurants close every day all around the world, and its especially sad to see the restaurants go that had a food challenge. Most of these restaurants had little-man syndrome though and either their challenge was too big or the time limit was too short. Don’t let history repeat itself at your restaurant too, and create a challenge suitable for your smaller clientele. A small guy usually can’t lift as much weight as a big guy, a small school can’t compete with a big school, and a small restaurant typically can’t operate just like a big restaurant. For another example, consider quantity record challenges. Geography doesn’t really affect having a quantity record challenge because your customers set the record level. If you put the same record challenge in both a smaller town restaurant and a bigger city restaurant, I’d be willing to bet that the record is significantly higher in the bigger city. If it isn’t, I’d bet the record holders are both from big cities, making my assumption correct.

Feel free to browse the Map Search feature of the website showing where all of the world’s food challenges are. I spent 3 months looking up and finding all 3,000+ food challenges and studying the size and locations of each challenge. 95% of challenges in Canada, Europe, and Australia are 1-3 star challenges and there are very few very large challenges because those countries don’t have the big cities with big eaters like there are in the United States. Before you set the size and time limit of your challenge, consider where you are located and the potential customers around you that may attempt it. The success of your food challenge really depends on it.

To go back and view other Considering A Challenge articles, click here.