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From chef to owner

Posted by Kyle Smith on 1st Feb 2015

So you think that owning a restaurant is your dream? Are you trying to be the next Tom Colicchio, Gali Simmons, Richard Blais, or Gordon Ramsay? I am going to tell you some of the tips that I have found for opening a successful restaurant.

The first and foremost tip that I can give you to become one of the greatest restaurants is that it is going to take a lot of … drum roll … HARD WORK! Every successful business owner is going to tell you the exact same thing. No one restaurant is going to become the best overnight. It is going to take a lot of hard work and time.

According to Tyson Cole’s interview with Inc.com a restaurant cannot and will not exceed without the big three. The big three are “great chef, great location, and great concept.”

No one of the big three can really succeed without the other. If you have a great chef and great concept you might say, “I don’t need a great location I will make my restaurant a destination location”. As much as I would like to agree with that it probably will not happen. If you have all three of the big three you are setting yourself up for success. If you only have 2 of the 3 big three that might not be enough for your restaurant to succeed as you want.

The next topic for you to take into great consideration is your budget planning. If you take nothing else in consideration with budgeting take the following 2 facts:

  • Always overestimate on expenses and budgets. It is easier to save money and spend it in other places than it is to come up with it.
  • Take into consideration that after your grand opening phase that will help decide what you business is going to be bringing in. Some research suggested that you might have to live on your saved capital for the first 6-9 months before you really start showing a good profit.

If you have never worked in the restaurant industry but are opening a restaurant because you are passionate about cooking, you need to realize that commercial grade is stronger than a household version. When it comes to purchasing equipment for the restaurant i.e. knives, plates, glasses, dishwashers, cutting boards, ovens, fryers and etc. make sure that you do your research and buy equipment that can withstand the use. Take into consideration that this equipment is going to be used everyday all day.

“The customer is always right” is a quote that every industry seems to always have floating around to the staff. This is a quote that you need to consider in your budget because the customer is your source of income. You need to provide a reason for them to want to come back. Tyson Cole in his interview said the following “I definitely made mistakes early on, especially when I tried to go cheap on certain things like equipment, valets, and even desserts. That was short sighted, because everything that touches a guest is important.” He later went on to say that he was okay with giving his customers free entrees and treats for them to try. By giving your guests the best experience possible they will spread your name by word of mouth farther than any other advertising.

The following are some of the other tips that I found you should consider as well:

Choose a unique name. Don’t try to piggyback off of a big corporation name. It could get you into some legal trouble.

Apply for your liqueur license ASAP! If you plan to sell beer, wines, or etc. in your establishment, than you need to apply for your license ASAP. It can take several weeks to get it approved.

Avoid lining prices up on the menu. This will cause the customer to look for the cheapest price in the column.

Hire the right staff for the job. A new restaurant cannot afford to have dead weight including you! You should be the hardest worker in your restaurant.

If you are considering opening your own restaurant make sure to do all of your homework. If cooking is your passion then you might really want talk to several restaurant owners to see if owning your own is a smart move. With be the owner you will always have to be more than just a chef. You will have to be everything for the business.