RE: converting to restaurant--advice for new guy
I cook & sell many types of food in my restaurant, primarily seafood, but my heart is in the "Q". I'm The Executive Chef for one of the largest caterers in Florida, who is primarily bbq, and feeds groups of 10,000. During the last two years I have seen a Memphis BBQ legend leave North Florida completely and another new national chain close a location down and move to another part of town. All of this in the 50 mile radius that spawned Sonny's-Bono's-Woody's franchises. BBQ IS REGIONAL!!!
Does the area you are in around Nashville need another bbq place and why? What can you do better in the cooking/flavor department that the competition is or is no longer doing correctly? People love sauces and they seek out places with distinctive flavors.
The Alto Shaam gives you better holding capability than almost all the competition right off the bat, especially if you are to be a one man show. You need to get good with a smoker,maybe get a portable one and fence it in the rear of your place, way cheaper than putting a unit inside and you can utilize it for catering if needed. Does the Alto Shamm have to be under the hood? Anyway,a fryer is necessary, you could fry corn also. I would say yes to french fries, a good 5/16th skin on natural that you can cook crispy and slam the food out of there. Lightly smoked or grilled chicken (held) for sandwiches is probably good but you can make a dozen bbq sandwiches while a burger is cooking and with way less condiments. There are too many places that serve average burgers, which is not what you need. Ribs done correctly and with flavor are MONSTERS, eat in or out they will generate positive conversation (advertising) and a built in to go business.
If you have a basic,simple bbq menu let the public direct you as you progress, desserts,apps,soups and so on. Being very good at bbq and understated will get you started on a budget but by being there you will establish the quality and reputation of your product.
The wine is kicking in so I'll quit ranting.. Last night a friend of mine came into the restaurant who owns a Sonny's Franchise and I am constantly reminded of how successful bbq can be. His operation is one of if not the best Sonny's I have ever been to and he came out of a banking environment!
Will work for wine!!
If your heart is into this it will work Jim - keep it simple - Best of Luck!