Helpful ReplyWhat do you wish you had known before you opened your restaurant?

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Kat85
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2010/09/07 23:13:38 (permalink)

What do you wish you had known before you opened your restaurant?

I'm 25 and I want to open my own restaurant. It will be like a bistro/deli/cafe that serves tasty, fresh, and  affordable food. I have worked front and back of the house at restaurants for about 7 years. I know I have to do a lot of research and I know I will have to work looong hours. I'm a million percent serious  about opening a restaurant. I have had some people tell me that opening a restaurant is a bad idea and not to do it. Several people told me that employees will steal from me (I know that). A few other said that its a giant headache and someone told me that I would lose money the first 5 years because my restaurant is not a brand restaurant. 
 
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Foodbme
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Re:What do you wish you had known before you opened your restaurant? 2010/09/08 01:31:27 (permalink)
Kat85

I'm 25 and I want to open my own restaurant. It will be like a bistro/deli/cafe that serves tasty, fresh, and  affordable food. I have worked front and back of the house at restaurants for about 7 years. I know I have to do a lot of research and I know I will have to work looong hours. I'm a million percent serious  about opening a restaurant. I have had some people tell me that opening a restaurant is a bad idea and not to do it. Several people told me that employees will steal from me (I know that). A few other said that its a giant headache and someone told me that I would lose money the first 5 years because my restaurant is not a brand restaurant. 


Most small businesses fail due to Lack of Sufficient Funding. Not lack of desire, Restaurant skills or other factors-- just pure and simple ---Cash Flow. Doesn't matter what the business is- unless you have financial staying power to make it 1 year without making a profit, the chances of you making it are slim to none. The old adage used to be --"Figure out how much time you think it will take to make a profit and how much CAPITAL, (NOT Credit Line, CASH) you will need to survive until you do and then Double it!" That's not true in today's business startup environment----You need to Triple or Quadruple what you think you'll need. Save your money, get more experience and wait for a better economic climate before you take the leap! Desire's great but reality has $$$$ signs attached to it. More than sufficient funding = POSSIBLE (Not guaranteed) Success.  Insufficient funding = GUARANTEED failure and personal misery.
 
How do I know? Been there, done that!I ran successful companies for other people. Knew the business. Bought myself a good established business with a lousy cash flow. Had limited funds. Lost my house, filed bankruptcy and took 12 years to rebuild my credit----and that was in GOOD economic times!
post edited by Foodbme - 2010/09/08 01:37:00
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chewingthefat
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Re:What do you wish you had known before you opened your restaurant? 2010/09/08 13:17:26 (permalink)
Kat, you want to open a restaurant, open a restaurant, nothing is easy, no matter what you do...your advantage is you get to do what you want to do, most people aren't so fortunate. Your 25, most people your age are still searching for their calling. If you happen to fail, you'll know why, and avoid that mistake in the next restaurant you open.
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bartl
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Re:What do you wish you had known before you opened your restaurant? 2010/09/08 16:17:43 (permalink)
Foodbme Most small businesses fail due to Lack of Sufficient Funding. Not lack of desire, Restaurant skills or other factors-- just pure and simple ---Cash Flow. Doesn't matter what the business is- unless you have financial staying power to make it 1 year without making a profit, the chances of you making it are slim to none.

I left a similar message in another forum a week or two ago. One addition: when applying for a bank loan, a realistic request for the amount of money you really need has a better chance of being approved than an unrealistic request for the money you will need that assumes you will be very, very lucky.
 
Bart
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lornaschinske
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Re:What do you wish you had known before you opened your restaurant? 2010/09/08 16:46:28 (permalink) ☄ Helpful
Why don't you do a mobile cart. Set it up to try out your sandwiches, refine your menu, do a little catering, build up a following. Then open up a restaurant, small at first, outgrow it, then get a bigger place, out grow it, get a bigger place.... all as you can afford it. This way you get experience working the business end of things.  Perhaps take a few business management classes from a community college (online?)...
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gabagool
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Re:What do you wish you had known before you opened your restaurant? 2010/09/12 11:34:50 (permalink)
The first piece of advice I have for you is NEVER, EVER LISTEN TO PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT IN THE BUSINESS.  The restaurant business has more old wives tales that pass for fact then I can shake a stick at. 
 
Reading your post those tales are there.  WHo says 5 years before a profit.  I know of NO ONE who still is in biz that waited 5 years to make a profit.   Employees stealing from you is so far down the list of things to worry about its not even funny.  "gold mine" is another word non restaurant people loooooove to use.  99% of what they consider 'gold mines" are not.
Something I wish I knew before?  THe biggest, by far, IS HOW MUCH OF AN IMPACT this business will have on your family life.  Period.  If you stay in it long enough and have kids, you will battle with guilt over not being there.  Not in the evenings, not at holidays...and your wife WILL resent it, even if you make money (less of course, but the resentment will be there)  You will CONSTANTLY have to be on guard of WHO YOU ARE as a person.  EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY temptation will be there on a daily basis.  Booze, women, drugs, etc, etc.   And then there is the difficulty of running a business ON TOP of it. 
Restaurants are like hollywood.  IF you are at a party, and you run a small place, say grossing a half million annually.  And next to you is a guy who runs a 500M a year electrical supply house.....guess who everyone wants to talk to?  YOU!  Thats why half of the millionairs all open or invest in restaurants!!  The glamour that is missing in their HIGHLY PROFITABLE, but boring business.  SO, you have to keep your head on straight at all times.
 
Really, if you want to make a go of it, you will have to put off free time until you have really made it.  I work LESS now than I did when I had a small single restaurant. But, I put in 35 years to get there.  I struggled so hard and so long to put money in my families pocket that now that that has happened, it may be too late. 
 
What I just posted doesn't HAPPEN ALL THE TIME, just the vast majority of the time.  I know SOME, a few restaurant guys with good, solid happy marriages, but very, very few.
 
Oh, one last thing.  IF you enter this hell hole of a business, remember one thing.  Enter it with the goal of OWNING ONE YOURSELF.  If you fall into the rut of simply working in one, your future won't be to bright.  WITH FEW EXCEPTIONS, all the above will still be true, BUT, you won't make any money, insurance will be hard to get, and not a great plan when you get it.  If you don't own, a least work for a food service company.  The work wont be glamorous, but the pay and bennies will be decent, along with the hours.
 
Good luck.
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yancey.sanford
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Re:What do you wish you had known before you opened your restaurant? 2010/09/17 14:14:35 (permalink)
Be creative, use you sources at hand. If you can't start a big restaurant start small. For example there is a cupcake company in Washington DC started small but are very successful now. 
 
They make cupcakes and Tweet to locals in DC where they are going to be and then show up there and sell. A very low-cost solution to a big dream. They now have there own cupcake bakery  and are very successful. 
My wife who works in DC is always looking out for their tweets.
 
Start now where you are at and then grow where you want to be. It's whats in your mind that determines where your will go and what you will do.
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bartl
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Re:What do you wish you had known before you opened your restaurant? 2010/09/20 16:19:03 (permalink)
gabagool Reading your post those tales are there.  WHo says 5 years before a profit.  I know of NO ONE who still is in biz that waited 5 years to make a profit. 

The only thing I know where you have to be prepared to wait for 5 years to make a profit is an annual convention (you lose money the first two years, break even the third, make a profit to hopefully make up for the first two years' loss the 4th year, and start making a profit the 5th). And those who say that you need enough capital to go the 1st year without a profit aren't saying that you will be going through the first year without one; they are saying that if you start out with that much capital, then you will have enough money to take you through unexpected difficulties and have a far better chance of succeeding.
Bart
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love2bake
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Re:What do you wish you had known before you opened your restaurant? 2010/09/20 16:58:17 (permalink)
I wish I had known how many people would screw up along the way, and how many would screw me, too, along the way.  From my broker who recommended a know-nothing person to do my walk-through with me, to the sellers and landlord who failed to disclose that the location was contaminated with benzene, to the first contractor (the know-nothing mentioned above) who oversold his skills and abandoned his contract--name it.  Then you have the red tape crowd--state, county, and city folk who all have other things to do besides attend to your needs, but require you to jump through their hoops.  When experienced people tell you it will take 2-3 times as long as you think and cost 2-3 times as much to open a restaurant, believe them!
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