San Francisco Restaurant Professionals


San Francisco Restaurant Professionals

Dealing with the professional issues of San Francisco from politics to servers, European guests and the local food press. Whatever floats (or sinks) your boat.

Location: San Francisco
Members: 10
Latest Activity: Mar 8, 2012

Discussion Forum

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Comment by Abie on October 2, 2008 at 11:37am
Hello, glad to join your group, I am a San Franciscan Restaurant Consultant, I work primarily with small restaurants and my pet passion is "First-Time Restaurant Owners". I am looking forward to the growth of this group and I will spread the news as much as I can.

Comment by Jo Lynne Lockley on September 26, 2008 at 10:34am
Opening a restaurant in San Francisco: Is the time right for this?

A friend and highly acclaimed chef from elsewhere has asked me what I think about this time to open a restaurant in San Francisco. I am posting my reply. Is it really? What about the economy? San Francisco or outside? Large small, mid sized? City or neighborhood.

Here my take on it. Yours appreciated.

As I understand your situation, you have a potential backer who would support you in opening your own restaurant. That's good. There are some people in the industry you don't want to get involved with here and some you do.

As to your initial question, then, my gut reaction is that this is the time to start the process and it's a good time. I have been right nearly consistently on these questions, but wrong once, and then I was really, really wrong. In other words, it's a crap shot.

I am going on the buy low and sell high principle. The decline is taking out some of the less well run and planned restaurants, and nature abhors a vacuum. Chefs planning to open here are sitting on the sidelines understandably, which means costs are not inflating.

The first question is what you would want to open. I think SF is a little stagnant and very much recycling the same old same old, so something a little different might be very successful. The caveat is that the locals are also a peculiar and picky breedm and if it isn't what they understand, they may not respond positively.

The other question is where. My take is that ouside SF is wiser at the moment, since the recent spate of stupid ordinances passed here increase the cost of operation. They include

* Manditory health care. (This is a weird law, and there are workarounds which actually are not as bad as they sound.
* Paid public transportation for all employees.
* 10 days paid sick leave with no provision that the person need be sick
* A minimum wage of $9.75 in the back and the front of the house with no tip credit (tips counting towards the compensation).
* State Shift Pay legislation which counts every hour over eight in a single day as overtime, even though the employee works only 20 hours in a week.
* Challenging permit processes which with pending green ordinances could be tightened even more.

These ordinances, with the exception of the shift pay laws, only apply to restaurants over 20 employees. Less than that is hard to do.

Opening outside of San Francisco is an option. The hot spots are Oakland, which has its owns challenges - more or less the Brooklyn of San Francisco - and Burlingame/Palo Alto/San Mateo, which is not exactly hot, but there's a lot of money down there. "Build it and they will come" (as long as your food is spectacular) has worked wonderfuly for David kinch and Thomas Keller, who have managed to avoid the City very nicely. In the City the South of Market and inner Mission neighborhoods, as well as some previously overlooked areas are proving to be very good spots.

You should not try to build one without some insider industry support. There are a number of groups which consult now. At least one is pretty bad, but I work with one which brings together professionals with various skill sets from lease negotiation to recruiting. There are also independent restaurant consultants, who can be better or worse. I'd love to introduce you to my people, and I'd be happy to put you through to some others I think are good. The Guest First Group has members who handle a variety of restaurant issues from permit expedition (Necessary) to hiring compliance to financial control and job descriptions. (Not me, I am sorry to say). By the way, I have no financial interest in it. We are not the only good act in town, but there are more than a fair share of bad ones.

We could also get you in touch with some of the chefs who have recently undergone openings, and I think they might have an even clearer perspective on the pros and cons. The fact that they are opening second and third properties despite the local hurdles is an indication that they think it worth the effort.
Comment by Jo Lynne Lockley on June 6, 2008 at 5:02pm
I see this as a space for people with issues regarding the running of restaurants in San Francisco to seek problem solutions, discuss everything from seasonal produce to shift pay.

I don't see it as a place to promote services unless asked (mine included).

I occasionally come across promotional opportunities and restaurant related opportunities, which I will post here. I encourage others to do the same.

Jo Lynne Lockley




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