Neophyte Restaurant Owner ?

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2005/09/29 20:01:48 (permalink)

Neophyte Restaurant Owner ?

I am not a restaurant professional, but I like to cook. I have been tossing around an idea of opening a small breakfast/lunch place. I have no experience in the business. Would I be better off working for someone else to see if I like it? Problem is, I would probably have to work 2 or more jobs to get paid what I am now. I have always been in the auto business, but my dream has always been to have my own eatery. What do you professionals think? Any ideas where I should/would go first? Or should I just forget about it?

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    Filet Mignon
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    RE: Neophyte Restaurant Owner ? 2005/09/29 20:25:26 (permalink)
    I know exactly how you feel.

    My dream business would be a breakfast and lunch place like White Hut ... that transforms into a brick-oven pizza place as the day goes on ... (oh heck, with BBQ out back) ...

    I've been thinking about offering to intern someplace ...
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    RE: Neophyte Restaurant Owner ? 2005/09/29 21:06:10 (permalink)
    okay, i'll start the parade. i've been in the business for 25 years or so. owned two restaurants, a gourmet shop, a jazz club and now a catering business.

    if you don't work for someone first, and start planning to open a place without any experience, get a friend to hit you in the head with a three wood.

    liking to cook has very little to do with opening a restaurant. nothing. the cooking is the easy part in some ways. of course, the fact that YOU like to cook doesn't mean you CAN cook. and even the most gifted amateurs can easily wilt under the pressure of working a busy line. not to mention that you probably haven't a clue about keeping your food cost in line, proper sanitary procedures, etc. and this is just the food part. the business part is the real pain in the ass.

    i've discouraged, or attempted to discourage, dozens of people from cooking for money and/or opening a place. and i'll continue to do so.

    don't believe me? check out the failure rate for small businesses. then check out the staggering failure rate for food service businesses. then, if you can, check the failure rate for first-time restauranteurs, especially under-financed ones, which i guarantee you are. one in a hundred? maybe one in five hundred.

    try it on someone else's dime, brother. and remember this: owning your own place, even a breakfast/lunch joint, will involve at least as many hours as working two jobs. and you probably won't earn as much as you would working one.

    Filet Mignon
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    RE: Neophyte Restaurant Owner ? 2005/09/29 21:29:41 (permalink)
    This is a fun dialog.

    Scallion1: I know you are correct. That is why I haven't gone out and done something stupid.

    That doesn't mean I couldn't ... but for the time being, I wouldn't.

    Intellectually, I know that it isn't necessarily a fact that an old dog, such as myself, who doesn't have to make big bucks from an endeavour, can't learn new tricks ... but I can't see the logic of throwing money out the window.

    Huhhmmm ...
    Junior Burger
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    RE: Neophyte Restaurant Owner ? 2005/09/29 23:27:14 (permalink)
    You know this thread will have its share of opinions. I currently own 3 franchised locations in mall food courts. All three locations were purchased by me within the last four years from the Franchisor for just pennies on the dollar because the company couldn't run them profitably. Each unit is now performing in the top ten out of over 600 company units. The reason for the short bio is this; I could not have accomplished this without having over 30 years of working for someone else in the food business. When I went out on my own I wouldn't have dreamed of opening an auto parts store, dry cleaner, or even a full service restaurant 'cause I knew nothing of those endeavors and I knew alot about the fast food business. The interesting thing is, I've learned more in the last four years than in all the previous 30 years. Work for someone for awhile. Learn as much as possible. And when you are ready to take the plunge, buy an existing business that is struggling but has great potential. Best of Luck!!
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    RE: Neophyte Restaurant Owner ? 2005/09/30 09:03:57 (permalink)
    Listen to the advice above. Let someone else suffer your learning curve. Guess's built into your salary w/ them.

    As the owner you get paid last...sometimes that's great and sometimes it sucks. Your hours are unreal and the rewards can be great or crap.

    PS liking to cook has very little to do w/ running a food service store.
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    RE: Neophyte Restaurant Owner ? 2005/10/28 01:21:58 (permalink)
    Originally posted by V960

    Listen to the advice above. Let someone else suffer your learning curve. Guess's built into your salary w/ them.

    As the owner you get paid last...sometimes that's great and sometimes it sucks. Your hours are unreal and the rewards can be great or crap.

    PS liking to cook has very little to do w/ running a food service store.

    I have got to make a T-Shirt with that quote "Your hours are unreal and the rewards can be great or crap". It will go great with my "Customers Suck" headband.
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    RE: Neophyte Restaurant Owner ? 2005/10/29 22:00:18 (permalink)
    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.
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    RE: Neophyte Restaurant Owner ? 2005/11/01 10:37:56 (permalink)
    Alright, I'll give my .02 worth here.

    You want to open a restaurant, opening a restaurant is like playing golf. You know the object of the game is getting the white ball into the hole in the least amount of strokes possible. But just like the restaurant business, the game of golf doesn't stop there. You have to learn to play the game.

    BUT, there are many successful owners that started out with little or no experience and that become successful, one that comes to mind is Harland Saunders, and he made several mistakes before hitting a combination that worked.

    If you are insistent on opening a restaurant, then there isn't much anyone can do to stop you, but please forward your address on to me so I can watch for a future equipment sale. Good luck!

    Double Cheeseburger
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    RE: Neophyte Restaurant Owner ? 2005/11/01 11:53:34 (permalink)
    NAAMikey,some great advice above. I will only add to it to say that if you enjoy cooking so much, stay with your current job and enjoy cooking as a hobby by entertaining friends and family. Your only loss is the cost of groceries and supplies for your dinners.

    Starting any business with no experience is a good way to loose whatever life savings you have and go bankrupt. As several posts have said, the restaurant/food service business has the highest failure rate of any new business.
    Filet Mignon
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    RE: Neophyte Restaurant Owner ? 2005/11/01 12:40:09 (permalink)
    a few facts;

    i agree---liking to--or even being a REALLY good cook--has very little to do with success in the business----some of the most succesful places have lousy food---ie McD's!!

    a little over 80% of ALL restaraunts fail before they reach a yr in the business

    owning the place means you have to know how to ---and probably will do--everything in the place---and most of it is NOT cooking!!!---ie cleaning bathrooms--dealing with vendors-county-city-state-tax folks!!!--advertising-you name it--its YOUR resposibility ultimatly!

    no matter how much you LIKE to cook---by the time youve cooked the same 18 things on your menu 12billion times--it gets old!

    unlike any other business where if you own it---your the boss---every person that walks in the lace with money in their hand and an idea in their head of what they order should taste like---IS YOUR BOSS! and there is no way your will ever please them all!

    as the owner--YOU will work 80 to 90 hrs a week at least for a couple of years and make about 85 cents an hour for a long time---if you lucky

    and finally--even though opening a business with no experiance is crazy---A lot the folks in this business did it ONCE--successful ones included--and no matter how ugly it can get--or how much work it is--if its your PASSION--you will do it anyway.I find that if you have enough cash in your pocket to pay you and you staff and bills for 2 years---AND---your food really IS good---well then you just might make it!
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    RE: Neophyte Restaurant Owner ? 2005/11/01 19:13:00 (permalink)
    While there's plenty of good advice above, I guess I'm one of the exceptions. I retired from 29 years in a non-food service field and had "the dream" like you. I only knew what I required in a restaurant and started my business with those concepts. Oct 1 was my two year anniversary and knock on wood, I've been in the black every month.

    I realize that I'm one of the lucky ones, but sometimes you just have to follow your dream.

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    RE: Neophyte Restaurant Owner ? 2005/11/01 20:40:31 (permalink)
    Good cooks are a dime a dozen. Great cooks with the ability to run a business are very rare.
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    RE: Neophyte Restaurant Owner ? 2005/11/01 22:04:55 (permalink)
    Obviously the failure rate of restaurants it horrible. But if people listened every time someone said "you can't do it" we would all be working for someone else. I for one, enjoy being my own boss, we hardly ever disagree. My advice would be to offer a product that people want (not necessarily what you like) and DON'T be the low cost leader. Best of luck what ever you decide.
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