The Sims 4 Dine Out
Managing a Restaurant as Owner
The restaurant is open for business - now what?!
The Sims 4 Dine out lets you take the role as manager. You can perform this actively or passively, but star ratings will only improve well if you are there to oversee your restaurant until your staff are prepared to handle things themselves. This guide is a part of a larger piece about managing restaurants so other parts (like staff) should probably be read first. I am repeating some things here as there is quite a lot to this system (a good thing) but will also try to throw in some unique tips.
Growing your star rating means managing your staff, and helping them to grow with you! Look to the customer experience section to see what you could improve upon. My guide to Star Rating should help you with what these mean.
Praise your staff at the beginning of service, starting with the host and working back to the waiters and chefs. That is the order customers will encounter them, and you have a bit of time before the foodies walk through the door. By doing this, you will help to keep the workers satisfied (it's not good to criticize unless you're sure they're doing something wrong).
Check Their Satisfaction
Staff opinions range from very unsatisfied to neutral and very satisfied. This is primarily around pay. Bad enough boss, you won't mind if they're a jerk as you're getting paid but everyone has a breaking point! Ensuring your staff are satisfied will help their stress levels and keep them in a good mood. As employee skill levels rise, they deserve (and demand) greater wages. It's just natural. Your waiter dropping plates doesn't deserve as much as the guy who nails it every time. This has a huge impact, especially with the host whose mood can immediately put a black eye on your reputation.
Skills Rise Slowly
Training exists for a reason, and that is how slowly skills will rise. If you want them to max out in your Sim's lifetime, you should probably cough up some cash for training. If you want a five-star restaurant, this is important. It depends where that lies on your own list of priorities. Restaurants can be profitable without being 5-star, and it's not that big a deal - it just gives you more customers, who could be gained via advertising. But 5 star means free advertising over the long run.
Conduct your Chefs
You can tell chefs to cook carefully, which raises quality but reduces the speed. If you don't have many customers at first, that's not a big deal. Wait time is a huge factor in performance, though, so do not do this if you have a surge of customers. You can always switch it up. Also, some players might like to run diners with highly-skilled chefs that do not cook skill-level 5 food. Gordon Ramsay probably puts out some mean scrambled eggs, and he can do them fast and perfectly every time. This is a good time for 'quickly' to shine.
Work the Menu
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Start with easier menu items and gradually work your way up as the chef improves.
Every bad review hits your star rating, and that affects your reputation with potential customers. When your chef cannot cook a dish at all, it's guaranteed to be poor quality. Try to keep skill levels equal with the dishes you offer. You can tweak the menu every day, in fact, as your chef rises in talent. Do not mark up too high until the chef can put out consistent food, or else customers will consider your value to be low. You'll get less guests, and make less money. A popular diner is better than a restaurant that tries to be 5-star but isn't anywhere near that quality.
You Do NOT Have to Fill out the Menu, and Yes, can Make a Bar
You can pick up to 30 of each type of item (appetizer, main course, dessert, drink) and serve 120 things if you want, or you can go the opposite direction. Appetizers, dessert, I don't think anything is required. In fact you could possibly make a bar as far as I can tell. I'm not sure if guests will be upset or happy to grab a glass of 'nectar'. Your chef would only gain experience in mixology, but that may not be a problem for you! Just don't expect Sims to imbibe multiple drinks. They're in and out.
Dealing with Guests and Critics
Customers can have wildly different opinions about the experience at your restaurant. This evens out when you've got the basics down - a good host, decor, music, and some personal touch.
Say hi to every guest you see. It not only gets you restaurant points which purchase powerful perks, it also gives you points in the personal touch metric for your star rating. This one is not required, but adds with the rest to produce a better ranking for the restaurant. You can use check on table here and there to get even more points.
Star Ratings are comprised of many factors, I've identified 90+% of them and written about them here. Two of the simplest things you can do are put items in your restaurant that add music and environment score (decoration). Remember that fancy statue won't work across a huge room, decorations have a range. If they can't see it in detail, it won't contribute. That's why the table in the corner might always have 4-stars while the rest are at a 5!
Cater to Critics
Their input is worth 10 regular reviews, no exaggeration. Comp their drinks, give them a hello and check on them at the very least. Prioritize their food to make sure they have a great wait time. They can easily be bribed and won't disclose that in their review, they're just foodies with a blog.
Eat at your own restaurant during peak hours to understand your customers' experience and why they get up set it takes 4 hours to get food!
More Tips to come!
I've not said all I can about Dine Out. It's got enough depth for me to create 8 guides about it, so there's more to this than meets the eye. I'll continue coverage and expand this page with more tips for managing your restaurant as I continue to play. This is just release day! Share your own tips below if you learn something valuable for other players.
Other Dine Out Guides
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