Struggling with my new Business

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youngrestaurantowner
Junior Burger
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2011/10/28 15:16:15 (permalink)

Struggling with my new Business

We took over an existing run down Thai restaurant last December. Fully remodeled the inside, did most of the work myself which was a learning experience for sure and have been in business since late January of this year. The previous owner had given up on the business for the past few years and the place was a mess inside. Good food but horrible conditions. I have spent about $40k to open the restaurant and am barely surviving thanks to my low overhead. My rent is $600 per month,water included. The location is not the best but it is a good location with schools around, the recreational center, pewee baseball accross the street, city hall, firestation and police department just a couple of blocks down. The beginning of the year started slow but after march picked up and we were making about $200-$280 per day monday-thurs and sometimes $400 on both friday and saturday. After the crazy hot  July weather business started slowing down terribly. People love our food and service but I just don't know if its the area that I am in which is mostly hispanic works for a Thai restaurant. Things have been really slow these past 4 weeks or so. Sometimes no one for lunch no togos nothing. Maybe if lucky we are making $100 per day. I am often stressed out and think about throwing in the towel but everyone says that it just takes time. At this rate after 10 months I don't see any improvement even after numerous Groupons and Living social promotions. A couple of weeks ago i finally gave out flyers with an offer around the neighborhood but no response. I have a good spot here to thrive and now we are thinking of converting it to a Taqueria. That would mean faster service, lower food cost and more volume in this area. I need some motivation! Is business like this? This is my first business I am 23 years old  and this is stressing me out I am too young for sress : ). Anyway any advice I would greatly appreciate.
#1

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    SR-71
    Junior Burger
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    Re:Struggling with my new Business 2011/10/28 16:09:45 (permalink)
    I would really consider making the switch to a Taqueria. Sounds like you've tried all sorts of marketing to no avail. A re-branding could really help. Especially since many people might not even know about the new ownership and all of the changes you have made!
    #2
    Benzee
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    Re:Struggling with my new Business 2011/10/28 22:29:36 (permalink)
    Hello there ,
    Rebrand it , new name advertise , new ownership , what city are you in ?
    I worked in Wash Hts  spanish NYC neighborhood for 20 yrs , no Thai restaurants lasted more than six months and a few tried .
    They turned into chinese , pizza or burger joints
    Good luck buddy
    Benzee
     
    #3
    Buck & Vi's
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    Re:Struggling with my new Business 2011/10/29 07:40:28 (permalink)
    Benzee

    Hello there ,
    Rebrand it , new name advertise , new ownership , what city are you in ?
    I worked in Wash Hts  spanish NYC neighborhood for 20 yrs , no Thai restaurants lasted more than six months and a few tried .
    They turned into chinese , pizza or burger joints
    Good luck buddy
    Benzee


    I have to agree, here, I've not seen 1 thai restaurant survive. you say your near schools but I doubt school age kids would do much thai  stuff.... especially in a hispanic neighborhood, what kind of spanish eating is available there now? do you know any spanish dish's?
    the way you describe, schools, rec center, baseball park etc. sounds like it's crying for burgers and dogs, good sammich's shakes , ice cream,something in that line. good luck I know the first year is the worst! we invested allot  of my retirement  on a trailer set up last july and believe me I spent some sleepless nights over that one too !! I'm well past 23 my friend :>)but got some good friends on here that helped out allot and finally caught a couple breaks and just now starting to turn an old dollar for a new one.

    #4
    pnwchef
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    Re:Struggling with my new Business 2011/10/29 09:51:56 (permalink)
    Buck & Vi's

    Benzee

    Hello there ,
    Rebrand it , new name advertise , new ownership , what city are you in ?
    I worked in Wash Hts  spanish NYC neighborhood for 20 yrs , no Thai restaurants lasted more than six months and a few tried .
    They turned into chinese , pizza or burger joints
    Good luck buddy
    Benzee


    I have to agree, here, I've not seen 1 thai restaurant survive. you say your near schools but I doubt school age kids would do much thai  stuff.... especially in a hispanic neighborhood, what kind of spanish eating is available there now? do you know any spanish dish's?
    the way you describe, schools, rec center, baseball park etc. sounds like it's crying for burgers and dogs, good sammich's shakes , ice cream,something in that line. good luck I know the first year is the worst! we invested allot  of my retirement  on a trailer set up last july and believe me I spent some sleepless nights over that one too !! I'm well past 23 my friend :>)but got some good friends on here that helped out allot and finally caught a couple breaks and just now starting to turn an old dollar for a new one.


    Buck & Vi, just like Lucy & Desi, successful because they offered a quality product to their audience. I have to give Buck credit for being so resilient, sticking to his guns and serving a quality product. Buck will tell you there were many a day he wanted to pack it up and give up, My hat is off to you Buck, I am proud of you...............
     
    I agree with the other posters, pick a menu  that would appeal to the large Hispanic population in your area...pnwc
    #5
    kland01s
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    Re:Struggling with my new Business 2011/10/29 11:34:35 (permalink)
    Just as an example, there is a Mexican restaurant near me which is in the middle of a residential neighborhood and several schools. It's an odd fit because this is not an area with much of an hispanic population but it works because they serve very good mom and pop Mexican food but also burgers, hot dogs, fries, milk shakes and such which appeals to the kids from the schools and parks. They operate a regular sit down side and have a walk in carry out side which is always booming. What I'm saying is to diversify!
    post edited by kland01s - 2011/10/29 11:36:33
    #6
    Dr of BBQ
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    Re:Struggling with my new Business 2011/10/29 20:39:59 (permalink)
     If you change brands and become a Taquería (sometimes misspelled as taquiria) taco shop. With the people in your local area mostly Hispanic you had better have some very solid recipes. By the way Taquerías had their beginnings as street vendors. And I'm not talking Taco Gringo stuff, LOL. What are the chances that you become friendly with some neighbors that are Hispanic and ask them for some family recipes. You'd have to cull the really good family cooks from the so so family cooks. I'd look for some grandmothers that still cook for 2 or maybe 3 generations. Ask what they serve for a Sunday family get to gethers, and all the holidays. Offer to buy all the ingredients and bring the (teacher) into the restaurant on a closed day (Sunday) with the other family members for a free family function. Work side by side with your best new cook friend and make sure you have every step down to a science. Maybe even video tape it for future reference. If you do tape the cooking lesson give the teacher a copy. Then after you've done this with several families and have you menu put together name the dishes after the recipe originator. Use all or none of this just my thoughts.
    Good Luck
    Jack
     
     Taquerías had their beginnings as street vendors. ... But think Roasted Rabbit Tacos....think outside the box.
    post edited by Dr of BBQ - 2011/10/29 21:29:44
    #7
    jcheese
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    Re:Struggling with my new Business 2011/10/29 21:42:48 (permalink)
    What Jack said is spot on. You can't sell Taco Bell fare to Los Latinos. It's gotta be close to what they had at home. That said, why not just eat at home what Abuela cooks? Who said life was easy or fair?
    Also consider what "Re-tooling" you'd have to do to change the menu(kitchen wise) not to mention the decor.
    I think some market research is in order. Your a young man, you will probably suffer a few failures before you hit that magic success. Seems like you're on your way, just may not be right now.
    #8
    Foodbme
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    Re:Struggling with my new Business 2011/10/30 02:27:33 (permalink)
    Dr of BBQ sounds like Dr. Lou, Dr. Lou! but he's correct. Your Business is going to come from a 5 to 10 block area around your store. How many Mexican food places are in that same space? If it's loaded with other Mexican places then maybe you need to move to another location or find another food catagory that appeals to a Hispanic Population. You need to get out and talk to people to find out what they want and more importantly, what they can afford. A Sonoran Hot Dog Shop Might work. here's one in Tucson that's very famous operating out of a hole-in-the-wall.
    http://www.elguerocanelo.com/
    http://www.bktacos.com/
    http://tucsoncitizen.com/tucsontales/2009/12/10/tucsons-sonoran-hot-dog-like-a-chili-dog-on-steroids-wrecipe/
    #9
    Dr of BBQ
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    Re:Struggling with my new Business 2011/10/30 08:14:16 (permalink)
    Foodbme
    Dr of BBQ sounds like Dr. Lou, Dr. Lou! but he's correct.

     
    Dr. Lou Holtz? LMAO that's funny.
    #10
    kreativekvs209
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    Re:Struggling with my new Business 2011/11/04 03:47:55 (permalink)
    the question i wanna ask is,
    1. do you have any experience in the restaurants business and if so how long.
    2. good thai food is just that, and pretty much sales itself. how does your thai food compares to other  thai food around your area. check out local food critics and what local patrons are saying about your food. such as yelp. com
    3. hows your curry? how many types do you have. i'm of south east asian decent. and if your thai food is mostly out of a package then you are way over your head, and maybe should think of a menu change. ( i wouldn't mind sharing some of my recipe if you still want to continue with thai food )
     
    imo. our local thai food restaurant are charging $8-$12 for a small bowl of curry/ pad thai and even papya salad. with these prices, the food needs to be good and fresh, and presented with great presentation. such as a fried rice plate served in a pinapple bowl. yeah the food was overpriced but it was served in a pinnapple .. that was awesome... upsale, upsale, and upsale. such as. if a customer comes in and order a sweet and sour soup entree , upsale rice, push the sodas . so if your sweet and sour soup is $12, -and you sell 2 sides of rice for $4, and 3 sodas for $1.50 each. that's $20.50 for that tag. and you gotta have sticky rice if you have a thai restaurant. sticky rice should go for at lease $3 for a portion which you can serve in a non zipper sandwich bag. and if your a noodles base restaurant. ( noodle soup such as the vietnamese's pho. or the cambodian ka-thew. ) you gotta have the long style chinese donuts, which goes great with noodles. upsale those. and if you dont want to make those yourself, i may be able to network and wholesale some to you until you able to create some yourself.
     
    from my experience in the food industries, as long as your product is quality, tasty and have good presentation, the food sales themselve.   but you also have to make sure that your servers/waiter are professional, and knowledgeable., ( dont pretend that your their friend and sit down with them at the table ) approach the customers in ways to make them feel welcome, respect their boundries and keep their drinks filled. the server should be clean , professionally dress, and speaks proper english. their approach should be in the manner of . hello guys welcome to sooo and sooo, my name is so and so, may i interest you in something to drink. then after getting the order, ok i will be right back with your drinks. when the server returns with the drinks. they should ask if the patrons needs some more time with the menu, and if the server can offer them some appetizers, ( upsale opportunity ) if yes then make sure the app come first before the entree . ( that's the point of an appetizer, it come before the entree. ) when they place their order try to sale something that would taste good or complete the dish. such as if their order consist of some soup, upsale some rice or beer/wine that would go good with it. dont forget about desert. DONT SMOOTHER your guess, every waiters goals should be to bring the tag to be about a $30 tag. if not more per person. our gross per regular night are in the thousands and a decent fri.sat night is about $4-5k.  
     
    my point is, if your location is near a busy spot, the key ingredient is good food, GREAT service, and decent prices.
    make sure you have a very skilled thai chef, that have a good pallet.
     
    other then that. struggle through, be true to your food. be nice to your cooks and waiters. and you should be alright. remember most restaurant fail in the first year. and if you can impress enough patrons to have consistant loyal customers then your doing something right.
     
    good luck
    #11
    Foodbme
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    Re:Struggling with my new Business 2011/11/04 04:10:46 (permalink)
    Dr of BBQ

    Foodbme
    Dr of BBQ sounds like Dr. Lou, Dr. Lou! but he's correct.

    Dr. Lou Holtz? LMAO that's funny.

    Yep, one and the same! I love listening to him on Saturdays. He's a witty guy! 
    #12
    Rubyshaveice
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    Re:Struggling with my new Business 2011/11/04 04:32:52 (permalink)
    Go to that local firestation, give them a menu, give them 20% off or some decent discount. They might become regular customers. firefighters often don't have time to cook dinner/lunch for any number of reasons.
    #13
    lornaschinske
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    Re:Struggling with my new Business 2011/11/04 12:37:33 (permalink)
    youngrestaurantowner

    ... The location is not the best but it is a good location with schools around, the recreational center, pewee baseball across the street, city hall, fire station and police department just a couple of blocks down ...

    How about an "old fashioned" Hamburger joint/diner? Think "American Graffiti". Have a few old car /hot rod car clubs hold a "drive-in" in your parking lot if large enough. Give the locals a "Third Place" and good food at a decent price.
     
    Try to get these books:
    The great Good Place by Ray Oldenburg, Ph. D.
    Celebrating the Third Place by Ray Oldenburg, Ph.D.
    #14
    Bistro a go-go
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    Re:Struggling with my new Business 2012/03/17 13:06:57 (permalink)
    latinos get tired of mexi food too, what about pizza? hit the schools with fundraisers nights. give each school a dollar off pizza nite. game room, school art on the walls, embrace,...if not, i do like tex-mex but hire latino cooks for sure and get the recipes written down incase they have to flee, (i mean move to another state or something).
    #15
    Bistro a go-go
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    Re:Struggling with my new Business 2012/03/17 13:06:58 (permalink)
    latinos get tired of mexi food too, what about pizza? hit the schools with fundraisers nights. give each school a dollar off pizza nite. game room, school art on the walls, embrace,...if not, i do like tex-mex but hire latino cooks for sure and get the recipes written down incase they have to flee, (i mean move to another state or something).
    #16
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