Opening A Restaurant
Although we could write a book on opening a restaurant, here are a few key tips to help those who are new to restaurant ownership....
YOUR RESTAURANT NAME: Before you get attached to the name and begin signing legal documents, register it with the county clerk or the state.
YOUR LOCATION: It is much easier to open a restaurant in a location that has been one before. Much of the infrastructure (hood vents, grease trap, ADA approved restrooms, increased voltage for electricity, etc.) will be in place and all those items are expensive to install. Make sure you get an OK in writing from the landlord for any structural changes to the building.
HEALTH/FIRE INSPECTORS: Be smart. Make contact with your inspectors before you begin buying equipment, making structural changes, etc. These people have the power to seriously mess with your opening schedule if you don't understand what they will require to have you pass inspection.
YOUR MENU: Have a clearly defined concept - don't try to be everything to every one. Don't supersize your menu - there are too many reasons to list here but a too large menu can overburden a restaurant operation in many ways. Keep your printed menu readable and your descriptions understandable. There are many great websites that can give you good information on menu design. Your kitchen design will flow from your menu - your storage requirements, your equipment package, and how you put it all together all stems from your menu.
YOUR FINANCES: Have some money put aside for the first few months of operations. It usually takes awhile to build your customer base and there are almost always unexpected espenses that arrise after opening. Also, it is a good idea to plan on going over budget - we rarely hear from customers who have opened their business with what they originally thought it would cost.
PRICING YOUR MENU: Take into consideration all of the ingredients that go into a plate when figuring out your food cost. (You'll need to figure out the cost of each recipe and then divide that into individual portion prices.) There are many websites that will give you very specific information on how to figure menu prices accurately.
MERCHANT CREDIT CARD ACCOUNTS: When negotiating the often scam ridden world of setting up a merchant account, the best advice we can offer is ask lots of questions about all the charges you can expect, take detailed notes and compare them point by point to your written contract. Plus, make sure you will have tech support.
YOUR REPORT CARD: Your ability to have a profitable restaurant hinges not only on a smooth-running operation, but also on your ability to understand your restaurant's financial health. We always had a profit and loss statement done professionally each month and kept careful track of food and labor costs, tweaking our operations accordingly if they got out of bounds. Also, if you ever want to sell your business (which we did successfully three times) your chances of doing so increase hugely if you have good financials.
Linda Doria has 25+ years experience in the restaurant business and is available for private consultation. Cell 505.699.5774 (I am in the Dallas area)