RE: Neophyte Restaurant Owner ?
Sat, 10/29/05 10:00 PM
The romantic thought of owning your own restaurant sweeps through many peoples minds,and for the inexperienced sweeps through their bank account like a wild fire.I would recomend getting as much hands on experience as possible,before spending a dime,or even writing a business plan.Even then you will just see the simple stuff,not the behind the scenes financial end of it,dealing with vendors,juggling bills,health inspectors, plumbers,electricians,the refridgeration guy,pest guy,garbage company.adverising bills etc.The restaurant business can be very rewarding,if you are experienced,well capitilized,and put together many other aspects that make up the recipe for a successful place.For many it is a hellish grind,that they can't believe they got themselves into,and hope they can sell the place before it goes under and gets auctioned off,look at many auctions listed in newspapers or on auctioneers websites,and many are failed restaurants that are only a few months old.I was around restaurants my whole life,working in them as a kid,being in the equipment and supply end of the business in my twenties,and owning two in my thirties.I turned two failed places around and made them successful and sold them for way more than I had invested but the days I sold those places were some of the happiest days of my life.It's sort of like the old saying about owning a boat,the two happiest days are when you buy it,and when you sell it.That being said,I still think about opening another place all the time,and have enough equipment(that I buy all the time,have to pick up a 6'grill in Philly tomorrow morning!lol!) in storage to open two,and two waymatic concession trailers with a support truck to tow them,all sitting in my storage yard,while I am involed in another business(trucking and construction demolition)I guess the desire will always be there,it must be in my blood,but having just turned forty,I am not as emotional when it comes to opening another place,as I was when I was younger.I find places all the time,I probably know of 5 or six closed places fully equipped sitting closed,that could be had for just 2 months lease payments,but as I weigh the idea of jumping in again,I think about all the aspects of running a restaurant,and a shrill goes up my spine and I think "no way!(for now!). If you do plan on opening a place,I also suggest finding a closed or failing place in a good location with a reasonable lease(a big factor in the success or failure of many places,you would be shocked at what some land lords or management companies want to lease a place).Finding a place in a distress sale that already is a restauant will save you a ton of money versus converting raw space into a to code resaturant.Just the cost of a new exhaust hood system or walkin cooler will boggle your mind.Be careful of codes that grand father in certain things for the previous owners,but dont apply to the new owners who have to upgrade to the current codes,like exhaust sytems.I am not trying to be a buzz killer on your business plan,just trying to open your eyes to the realities from someone who has also been there,versus the romantic notion from someone who has not taken the plunge yet.