What’s a reasonable price for a steak?
£20? £30? £40?
Whatever your answer, I’m willing to bet it won’t come close to the £630 a tomahawk steak costs in Salt Bae’s new restaurant in Knightsbridge.
If you’ve never heard of Salt Bae, he’s an Instagram famous Turkish restaurateur who personally serves $1,000, gold covered steaks.
And this week he’s had plenty of attention in the press, with people drawing attention to the eye-watering price of the food:
£630 for a steak…
£12 for sweetcorn…
£11 for a Red Bull…
The list goes on, but you get the point – prices in Salt Bae’s restaurants are sky-high, and they’ve definitely contributed to his notoriety and general attention.
Each steak that goes out is salted at the table by the man himself, which means he’s not just selling a steak, he’s selling a show; one that happens to be a perfect match for the world of Instagram.
So far, it’s worked fantastically well, and fair play to him.
But I’ve got my doubts about the longevity of it all.
He’s now opened up several restaurants around the world, all off the back of two things:
1. His personal brand
2. The experience in the restaurant, with Salt Bae in attendance
And here’s the potential issue:
The experience you buy is directly linked to Salt Bae serving your steak.
And although he does seem like a bit of a magician, he can’t be in London, LA and Dubai simultaneously.
Which means that – once the press hype dies down – he may have an issue justifying his prices.
After all, if you’re buying Salt Bae, but it’s a nameless restaurant manager salting your steak, are you really going to be happy forking £630 over for the privilege?
Maybe this is all part of the plan, and the prices will reduce as he scales, takes on additional premises and removes himself from the process.
But if it’s not, the USP is going to get harder and harder to deliver, until it’s no longer possible.
That’s the thing with businesses built off the back of personal brands: the experience cannot be diminished when the face behind the brand is removed.
For successful examples, see Gordon Ramsey and Richard Branson:
You don’t expect Gordon to be cooking in his numerous restaurants, and you’re not expecting Branson to fly every Virgin flight.
But right now, people ARE expecting Salt Bae. And without him, my fear is that the product’s value will be eroded, very quickly indeed.