restaurant business plan


The Right Kind of Passion for a Restaurant Business

Many of the people who express an interest in opening a restaurant busines mention a passion for cooking or entertaining. In speaking with them, it is almost always true that they have a very similar picture in their minds of what running a restaurant is going to be like- and it is usually quite far off from the real truth.

What people often picture is a place like in a movie. It is the kind of place where they spend a few minutes in the kitchen, tasting the latest amazing creation. Then, they stroll out into the dining area, always very elegantly decorated, and meet and greet their family, friends and acquaintances, and bask in unending praise for the quality of the food, the atmosphere, and mostly their amazing success.

What is never a part of the fantasy are the long hours working for all that success, or the boredom and stress of the day to day operations required to keep a successful restaurant business running. There are, to be sure, owners who don't do much more than cruise around shaking hands and counting their hundreds. These types of owners are few and far between, however, and they have usually paid many many years of due in order to get to that point.

Much more common are the owners you never see because they are stuck in the tiny back office, haggling with vendors, trying to meet payroll or covering shifts on the weekends, holidays and late nights that they have to work because they can't find or can't afford to get anyone else to do it.

This is not meant to scare anyone away from getting into the restaurant business. Rather, it is hoped that anyone who gets into it goes in with their eyes open as to what it is actually going to take to make it succeed.

If you enjoy entertaining, you should similarly stay out of the business, because you will get very little time to do it compared to all the other tasks you need to take care of each day. In addition, most days your friends and family won't be in, so you will only have the regular quests to interact with, and they generally aren't coming to see you.

Even worse, if you become friends with all your patrons, you are going to start being tempted to give them free things, and that is going to hurt your business. It sounds silly, but it can and does happen, and in the end it doesn't work out for anyone.

If you enjoy cooking, and want to get into the business because of that, you will likely be disappointed. The reason is that once the menu is created, the cooking becomes a routine. It is no longer about creativity, it is simply about volume, speed, portion and quality control- more like a manufacturing plant than a party atmosphere.

If you try to change the menu every night, you will increase your food costs and seriously handicap your ability to generate good profits. You also risk losing repeat business, since most people who come back to a restaurant order the same few things over and over again.

The best, and only attitude, to have in opening a restaurant is that it is a business. It sells food, and the more it sells the better. If you have a passion for running a business, and it is only a secondary consideration that you will be selling food, then this is for you. Restaurants can be hugely profitable cash cows that make tons of money year after year with little change.

Once popular, they are almost run on autopilot, and some locations can be moneymakers for 30 years or more. But, in order to get there, you must treat the restaurant as a business first and foremost, not a hobby, not a cooking school, not a hang out or anything else.

If you bring this attitude with you when you start, you will be ahead of 90% of the people trying to be your competition, and you will be making money long after they have given up and gone away- guaranteed.

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