Tuesday, 14 January 2014


A new restaurant opened in Laval recently.   Le Bistro d'Elise is in a new business office complex that looks pretty austere from the outside but is none the less well-appointed and comfortable inside.  We went there recently with some friends to try it out; there is nothing extraordinary in all that.   But this restaurant is run by Marie-Elise who also runs the Restaurant du Canyon that is just down the road from us, and there is a story behind its opening.

Some time ago, when I had a proper job, I read a book on negotiation entitled "Getting to Yes".  It's a very good, and consequently very successful, book on negotiation in general and business negotiation in particular.   One of the techniques that it prescribes for success in negotiation is to develop your BATNA - your Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement; the answer to the question "What is the best that I can do if I walk away from this negotiation".   It makes a lot of sense - the less one has to gain from a negotiation, the more powerful one's position.

As I have mentioned before, there is a project in place to develop the site of the Grottes de Saulges where Marie rents the Restaurant du Canyon.   Although nothing is firm yet, it looks like the current restaurant building will be converted into a museum, and the restaurant moved into the adjacent, currently disused, mill.  Marie has a number of concerns about the new proposed restaurant, and it is possible that she will not continue to operate there after the changes have been made.   She has the option of accepting the new, smaller restaurant on terms yet to be defined, or she might decide to claim breach of contract on her current rental and demand compensation for the loss of the goodwill that she has built up over the years.   The new restaurant is her BATNA, and it seems to be doing very well - in fact, a lot better than was intially predicted.

I don't know if Marie has read "Getting to Yes"; some people act in a textbook way either instinctively or through experience.  But, well, top marks to her.

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