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 . 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 .
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 .
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 . 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 . 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.
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.