Many people think that if they can cook well, they can own a successful restaurant. I wish it were that easy. I worked in the restaurant industry for several years, in almost every position. Some of the restaurants I worked in were hugely successful, some were struggling. And, the food was good enough in all of them.
So, what do you need to own a successful restaurant? While I don’t believe there is a secret formula, here are some key essentials you will need in addition to great food:
A great location. This is a key element many beginners often overlook or choose to ignore. Great locations are more expensive in the beginning, but rarely will people drive for miles or to secluded or hard to reach locations just to eat. A dinner restaurant in an area where people work will struggle if all those people go elsewhere after work, like back to their bedroom communities. A lunch restaurant may find the suburbs difficult. Find a location where it is easy for your future customers to get to you and then look for space, instead of finding space and trying to build a business around it.
Social skills. In addition to providing great food, the most successful restaurants build repeat business by getting to know and cater to their customers’ preferences. I call it the “Cheers” phenomenon—everybody wants to go where “everybody knows your name.”
A focus or point of view You might be able to cook everything under the sun, but trust me, keeping inventory on hand for that will break anybody’s bank. Focus on what you love and do very well. Themes and specialties are okay and if you can pull off the atmosphere, the menu and the cost control, you can be very successful with a tightly focused place.
Stamina Restaurant work is hard. If you do not already know this, go work in a restaurant for awhile. The hours are long, everything has to be cleaned almost constantly, and customers are sometimes rude and demanding. Suppliers raise prices or drop your items from their inventory, leaving you scrambling sometimes. Employees are unreliable and sometimes hard to find. You will never be bored in this business, but you need to be able to deal with stress and keep on moving.
Enough start up and working cash When you are trying to figure out how much money you need to open your restaurant, triple what you think you will need. I guarantee something will blow your budget to bits, so make sure you have the resources available to deal with those contingencies.
Experience If you have never worked in a restaurant, do yourself a big favor and work in one for several months to learn the ropes before you try opening your own. I know I said this before, but it bears repeating. You need to know how to hire, train and schedule employees, how to calculate the cost of a serving of food, how to get people in the door, where to find the best ingredients, how to clean everything, food safety, laws and regulations you must follow and so much more. There is no better way to learn than by being in there, doing it.
So, why do people want to own restaurants anyway? It’s a lot of fun, for one thing. I have great memories of my food and beverage years and what I learned then convinced me I could run almost any business successfully. I made great friends and never went through a day without learning something, laughing and accomplishing quite a bit. It’s a great business if you do it right. But, it can be a nightmare if you are not prepared.
To learn more about opening a restaurant, here are some valuable resources that will help you prepare so you can be one of the success stories:
Click Here to Discover How to Become a Restaurant Owner