Trois Mec. Stirring the Pot in Fine Dining.

The alignment of business and operations never tasted so good.

 [1]

Trois Mec 
The signature Trois Mec starter snack of crispy buckwheat “popcorn” with rice wine vinegar packs as much punch as the idea behind this exclusive, hiding-in-plain sight Los Angeles restaurant. With over a decade of experience in Michelin three-star restaurants, Chef Ludo Lefebvre first rocked the Los Angeles restaurant scene with his pop-up concept LudoBites and later teamed up with John Shook and Vinny Dotolo of beloved restaurants Animal and Son of a Gun to create Trois Mec [2]. Trois Mec, which slackly translates to “three homies”, is a simple but perfect example of a company that effectively aligns its business and operating models.

The Business Model
The business model of Trois Mec runs counter to that of many other restaurants. Most restaurants we know today seek to please guests by providing go-to menu items, specific cuisines, consistency, convenience, choice, high quality service, and a space of beauty or comfort in which to dine. Trois Mec reverses the traditional restaurant business model by focusing on pleasing the chef by granting him daily creative license and a starring role in a small dining room. The culinary comforts with which guests are familiar hardly exist at Trois Mec. The resulting experience is an accessible, no-frills, unique, intimate, and exclusive culinary experience. For a flat rate of $85 per person, all guests have the same five tasting courses each night at set times, a tasting menu that has been dubbed the best in the world for under $100 [3].

Lefebvre hides not in the back of house as he would in other restaurants, but rather he is spotlighted in the open kitchen where two thirds of the 24 available seats face him. Privileged guests are invited to experience Chef Ludo’s artistry and eat whatever he feels inspired to create that evening. In any given week, guests may receive bright, crunchy asparagus spears with buttery brioche crumbles, zesty yuzu citrus, sous-vide egg yolk, and fragrant elderflower. The next week, patrons may be gifted a sushi-inspired dish of sticky rice, salted cod that liquefies on the tongue, and whipped avocado [4].

The Operating Model
How does Trois Mec serve its guests the world’s best tasting menu for under $100 by superstar Chef Ludo? The restaurant closely aligns its operating model with its business model in key ways. First, the restaurant resides in a worn strip mall and dons the pizza parlor decal of the previous occupant. Because Trois Mec hardly redesigned the space it took over, the no-frills interior highlights the chef and his craft, as intended.

Diners cannot reserve a table! In fact, diners must purchase tickets online in advance as if for a show at the Staples Center by visiting Trois Mec’s website at precisely 8:00 AM every other Friday when the restaurant briefly releases available reservations for the next two weeks [4]. This ticketing system strongly complements its business model. Requiring diners to purchase tickets in advance allows the restaurant to meticulously plan its menus. The restaurant purchases the exact, necessary quantities of food every day, eliminating waste and the associated costs that negatively and significantly affect other restaurants. As a result, Trois Mec is able to price its tasting menu at a fraction of the cost of other similar restaurants [4]. Because each patron receives the exact same tasting menu on a given night, the chef repeatedly creates the same dishes at set seating times, providing increased efficiency and reduced variability in nightly dinner operations.

Effective Alignment
The effective alignment of Trois Mec’s business and operating models relieves the restaurant of the many pitfalls other restaurants face and makes the business so successful. Not obvious to patrons, resources and costs are optimally allocated, maximizing margins for the restaurant. Meanwhile, the chef is granted creativity and celebrated nightly and guests receive the best tasting menu in the world for under $100.

Sources:

[1] http://www.eater.com/

[2] https://troismec.com

[3] http://goop.com/

[4] http://www.latimes.com/food/la-fo-gold-20130615-story.html

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5 thoughts on “Trois Mec. Stirring the Pot in Fine Dining.

  1. This is an awesome concept 🙂 Love Chef Ludo!

    Am curious how much of the success is due to the celebrity of Chef Ludo (e.g. is that really the only asset?) versus having a really unique / efficient concept? Could anyone else (outside of the Anthony Bourdain’s and Chef Ludo’s of the world) replicate this?

    Time to go eat…

    1. Thanks Anna Marie! I do think this could be replicated with other, lessor known chefs, especially the up-and-coming sous chefs who want to showcase their talents and create a brand name for themselves. Ticket prices may have to be adjusted based on the chef but I think people today are always up for new, exciting dishes delivered by creative chefs.

  2. This a great concept, and definitely something I want to check out. From an operating model perspective, having guests pay for tickets in advance takes on the discussion we began in marketing a few weeks back about the future of paying for reservations, and the increased revenue visibility it gives to restaurants. Secondly, I think cooking in front of the guests captures one of the same value drivers that Benihana discovered – by bringing the cooking itself to the forefront of the restaurant, you eliminate space that is normally dedicated to back of the house and maximize profit per square footage. From a business model perspective, this is genius in that it not only creates a food variety that keeps patrons coming back night after night, but it also creates economies of scale and efficiency by serving everyone the same thing. Serving everyone the same thing also creates a social atmosphere to the restaurant where patrons both during the meal and after compare notes on what they liked and didn’t like.

  3. Unbelievable post dear Hailey!!

    I believe you should implement these best practices in your own restaurant in the future. I know how passionate you are about both fine dining and operations management. Combined with your skills and background, this just makes you the right person to open a new steakhouse in Manhattan; I am pretty sure it is going to be a success story!

    There are some points we need further clarification though:

    1. Do you really think most people would actually wake up at 8 am Friday morning to buy the menu online? Isn’t this against the concept of fine dining experience? I am pretty sure this model would not work for “higher-end” restaurants.

    2. You mention that they have actually greater transparency on demand and thanks to that they just buy the necessary quantities. Well, this is actually the case for most Michelin star or popular restaurants that operate with a tasting menu concept. They have historical data and most of them are actually fully booked for 1-2 weeks, if not months, ahead. They absolutely have an idea of what they should expect for a given night. I do not see that as a very clear competitive advantage unless you are an average restaurant that suffers from very fluctuating or low levels of demand.

    3. I would agree with Anna Marie that the chef’s reputation plays a bigger role in the success of the restaurant rather than the operating model.

    4. Is 100$ a fixed price or they actually have a differentiated pricing model for less popular days and hours? For example does the menu cost the same for Monday and Friday nights? If they want to smooth the demand, the dynamic pricing model can be an untapped opportunity for them.

    5. No tips? or tips included? or can you actually select how much you want to tip while booking online? How does this impact the service quality?

    6. Finally do you really think that their tasting menu is the best in the world? Even better than El Celler de Can Roca’s? or is this comparison for tasting menus under $100?

    Again, thanks for sharing with us this great post. I hope MBA Class of 2023 will write about your restaurant in the future.

    yy

  4. Thanks, Hailey, I really enjoyed reading about this restaurant concept. I’ve never tried anything like it, and now I really want to!
    To me, it seems that much of its success is satisfying the demand of consumers who are tired of having to make so many choices. We live in a world these days where we are flooded with information and more choices than we can ever properly evaluate, and it’s sometimes a privilege to let someone else – especially a trusted expert – take care of the burden of choosing. I am biased as a consumer though (who loves all food and hates making those decisions), so I wonder how much “appetite” there is from the broader population for a restaurant that doesn’t let them control the ordering process?
    The fact that this model also benefits from significant operating efficiencies makes it that much more brilliant. It definitely seems like a model that would work in many locations and for many cuisines – have other chefs/restaurants started to adopt this concept?

    Thanks again,
    Caitlin

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