If you want to open your own restaurant, you may be in for an enormous surprise. You will literally work day and night. The hours are long and the exhaustion real. You will spend your days devising new menus and trying out a twist on the old cuisine. All this happens if you even get it off the ground. Since I have been tapped for advice by a friend about to embark on this adventure, I thought I might as well share my thoughts with all of you. Here goes:
You must have sufficient capital or a body of investors. There are venture capitalists around but some have been burned by bad endeavors. The fail rate of restaurants is high. You better have a superior business plan with all the figures worked out. A newbie in the food industry is not likely to know enough to impress these sharks. It is best to get some help. The reason for investors is to fund your dream but it also helps take the pressure off you. You can have the fun of cooking and pleasing palettes without the stakes. Savvy investors know and accept the risks.
Location is everything when opening a new venue. Select a great neighborhood either in an urban or residential area as long as there are the right demographics for your concept. A fine dining restaurant draws a different crowd than a casual eatery. In other words, know your market.
Have a theme in mind so that the décor and food are well paired. While most restaurants these days are ultramodern, there is still a place for novel ideas. Some focus studies will help direct you to what is on trend. If you specialize in ethnic food, you have your theme in hand.
Hire the best staff. A top chef is a must if you want to succeed. It could well be you. Then you need a sous chef of almost equal stature and experienced kitchen help. The wait staff represents you before even the food arrives. Make sure your people are congenial and efficient. You can’t afford turnover. A pleasant atmosphere and good leadership will keep everyone happy.
Your pricing structure is the last point on my list for good reason. It follows from everything else: the quality and novelty of the food, the experience of the chef and staff and, of course, the ambiance. Do your research and learn the pricing in nearby restaurants of the same type. If you dare to go higher, you better have a remarkable restaurant.
One final issue is not to forget the details. You start with an overview and then get down to the nitty gritty. I remember in my own place I was even asked to make the Ceiling Fan Choice. I didn’t want them and had to fight the consensus. In the long run, after they were taken out because they were irritating and noisy, I was proved right. Voila!