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If the public loves it the restaurant has another source of new revenue. In the case of a new startup it could also be a featured recipe that helps them to get noticed to help get them off the ground and running overall. Believe it or not restaurants themselves can be considered one of the biggest copy cat artists out there but in a way that doesnt try to make an exact copy They will proceed in a way that may use the same name of the dish but pride themselves to make theirs stand out differently by adding their own signature touch and right down to what else may be included in addition to the entree to help set it apart from others.
They continue push each other in developing recipes techniques and signature menus that keep us coming back for more. We all have our favorite menu items and while one person may prefer one restaurant over another for a particular entree or appetizer the fact is they all are a genuine article and clearly worth the effort to imitate. Just a note in regard to businesses (especially non-restaurant) some have to take steps and go further and get patents or licenses on their discoveries to help protect them from being copied. With restaurants it is a little tougher as getting patents and licensing on food is much more difficult and not quite the same as building up a new technological advance like an I-pad.
With the exception of serve your self style of service restaurants basically copy each other on the overall operating format of how the customers are served and taken care of right down to including "similar" items being listed on the menus. They all keep a watchful eye on each other to see what is working well and may change a menu method of service cost or whatever the case may be to accommodate current customers and coax new paying customers to spend money in their establishments. It is a constant see saw battle. Regardless of these restaurants copying and competing with each other for our dollars they clearly are the bar to which we compare the taste of our favorite foods to.