converting to restaurant--advice for new guy
Been lurking a long time, now I need help.
I have a failing catering business. No need to go into the reasons why, I'm just not getting the amount of business I need (There's a divorce involved -- don't ask). I have room in my free-standing building - a re-zoned old house - to seat 30-40 people. I want to convert the building into a true bbq joint. The one in my part of town had to move to a bigger place across town because he just got too busy. The few lunch places in my part of town are lined up out the door every day. Plus, I'm in the south and I'm really good at it -- hence bbq.
I have a Alto Shaam combi, a 24" chargrill and a six burner range. I want to do order-from-the-counter, fill your own drink, we'll holler when it's ready kind of service. And lots of take-out (not much parking or seating).
Unlike my catering business, I want to do one thing really well, and gain a reputation for that. That's what I mean by a "true" bbq place. I'm thinking I just want 2-3 meat choices and sides. This seems like under-utilization of my equipment -- I have a grill, why not burgers or chicken sandwiches? Also, I don't have a fryer (don't need one for catering) and there's no more room under the hood. Am I crazy to open a bbq joint with no fries or rings? Should I lose the combi and put one in? Then I need grease service, right? Do killer hand cut fries really excite anyone other than restaurant reviewers? Do I need desserts for what I'm doing? Or appetizers?
These are the kinds of questions I am pondering. I am getting good ideas from this forum on things like soda fountain service, employee retention, etc. Any other message boards out there that would help would be appreciated. Any practical advice for a new guy would help, bbq-restaurant-owner advice, especially. "You are crazy, restaurants always fail" is not really advice. If you have no advice, but have extra prozac or bourbon, I will send my address.