Food challenges can be a lot of fun for customers to take, and also for the people that come along to watch. They can even provide great free entertainment for all of the other customers in the restaurant too. In some situations though, a “bad food challenger” can create a poor customer experience for normal diners. There are things that you can do as a restaurant owner to guarantee that customers have a pleasurable experience while dining in your restaurant and that their meal is not spoiled by somebody attempting your food challenge.

Have a special table designated for challenges – Some restaurants have 1 specific table reserved for food challenge attempts only, and some restaurants even have an area designated for challenges. The table or area may be on a raised stage or it may just be a random table that is the easiest for most tables to see. If your challenge is 2 stars or larger and it gets attempted a lot, you may want to try this idea. These tables are typically marked so that normal customers are able to know what the table is reserved for. Some people just disagree with food challenges and don’t want to watch them, or they just want to have a peaceful meal by themselves with no distractions. These people, because you have a designated table, know to avoid that area and they therefore get a seat in a different part of the restaurant. On the other hand, if people want to watch a food challenge going on, they now know that they should get a table near the designated challenge table.

Announce that a food challenge is happening – Many people that walk in your restaurant are not aware that you have a food challenge, especially if you don’t have it on the menu or on advertisements in the store. When a challenge is being served, let the customers dining in your restaurant know what is going on. Let them know they are welcome to take a picture if they want, and then they can share the photo via social media too!! This lets all of your customers know what is going on so they are not just staring and wondering, and this also allows them to move or finish up their meal if they don’t want to watch or be part of the atmosphere. When I do food challenges, it’s always funny to see people staring while I am setting up my camcorders and equipment. Once I go over and introduce myself and let them know what is going on, most people get excited to watch. Keeping people informed helps to keep a better and more fun restaurant atmosphere. Also, if people know what is going on they are more likely to get involved and cheer which makes a better overall experience for everyone.

Don’t allow challengers to dunk – As mentioned in The Effects Of Letting Eaters Dunk The Challenge Food, dunking food into water and other liquids while speed eating make a mess and can be very gross for customers to watch. Make sure that customers don’t get grossed out by not allowing challengers to dunk their food.

If a challenger is being disrespectful, let the person know – Sometimes an eater may do something considered gross or disrespectful to others during a particular challenge, such as belching up the air produced by speed eating. Sometimes an eater may just be “in the zone” and not thinking about anything other than finishing the entire meal sitting in front of him or her. If a challenger is doing something excessive that you don’t appreciate, let the person know. If a guy is not aware that he is doing something wrong, he isn’t going to just magically fix it. Feel free to casually let the eater know what it is you don’t appreciate, and 99% of the time it will get fixed immediately. Don’t just sit back and let the situation get worse for all your customers who are forced to watch.

Place a trash can near the challenger(s) – This was also mentioned in Things To Consider Before Starting A Food Challenge, but place a trash can or bucket near the table where the challenger is eating. If a situation comes up where the eater “gets sick” towards the end of the challenge, you definitely want a bucket or trash can readily available for that person. It is very rare that a person is able to actually “make it to the bathroom” in time. You really don’t want people going outside, and you certainly don’t want your regular customers to have to see it or stare at it, so solve all possible issues by taking the extra 5 seconds to place a receptacle near the challenger’s area. If a situation occurs, customers will be very happy you were prepared, and it won’t become negative.

Negative food challenge experiences for customers are very rare, but they do happen, and almost all of the situations could have been prevented if the restaurant had put more thought into how they host their challenge. Like we mentioned in Man v Food’s Effect On The Restaurant World, most of these issues occurred simply because some restaurants with food challenges started a food challenge without having any idea how to start or host one, and therefore they weren’t prepared for certain situations such as a person getting sick. Then they took the easy way out and blamed it on the food challenge itself. Now that you have read this article along with other articles, you can be better prepared to guarantee that your customers have a very pleasurable dining experience at your restaurant whether there is an eating challenge going on or not.

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