Voice of the Restaurant Industry
When I opened my first restaurant, I knew nothing. My father had owned a small cafe that I worked at, but working at a restaurant and starting one are totally separate animals! There are, of course, hundreds of steps involved in opening a restaurant, and making sure it is a success, but here are three big tips to help with the process (that I learned the hard way!)
Choose your concept. Too many restaurants these days try to do too much. Fusion has become a catch-all for any restaurant that serves more than one type of cuisine, but who wants to eat at a Mexican/Chinese restaurant? Choose what you know how to do and do it well. The best restaurants I’ve eaten at have the smallest menu. The concept goes beyond the food you serve and extends to the interior, the décor, the mood and atmosphere, the menu, your logo, your brand… Everything should gel together.
Don’t skimp on your kitchen. Seriously, I thought that having two residential kitchen ovens would be MORE than enough, well, let's just say that I was really wrong. While it’s tempting to cut corners to save money, it will pay off in the long run to purchase a fully stocked commercial grade kitchen (my fav oven now!). The last thing you want is to come in for lunch and find your cheap cooler died overnight and your food is all spoiled. Buy top of the line equipment, and you usually get top of the line repair service should anything go wrong. From your knives to your skillets to your gas range. Your chefs will thank you, and your headaches will be cut in half.
Hire and train a good staff. If you’ve seen any of the reality shows about restaurants recently (or if you’ve worked in a restaurant) you know how much a poorly staffed restaurant can suffer. From small things like wasting time and apathy to big things like theft, your staff will ultimately make or break your restaurant. They are the face of the restaurant, from your hostess to your servers and bussers, these are the people your guests interact with. Take the time to interview many people, pick the best, and take the time to train them well.