Little help for a future owner?

Junior Burger
2006/03/14 11:01:40

Hello all,

Seems like you have a plethora of handy info here. Glad I found you.

Anywho I'll get to it. I've dreamed of openeing a restaurant since I was a kid. I've always loved them. My favorite past time has to be trying new places on the road. That and, I love meeting new people. so it just makes sense.

I was just curious if you guys could point me in the right direction for answers to the most common questions.

Build from scratch or move-in?
Locations? (City, included)
General start-up costs.

Just typical stuff like that.
I'm actually in the Navy to save up captial to open up. I'd rather build from scratch but thats probably a pipe dream. I'm going to try and get a degree in small business management through the PACE program.

I don't plan on anything too massive. Maybe a 150 capacity at most, including the bar. See, not shooting too big.

Thanks in advance guys,
RE: Little help for a future owner? 2006/03/14 14:30:21
Your in the Navy "to save up"what are you an Admiral?

Junior Burger
RE: Little help for a future owner? 2006/03/14 14:54:39
Hah. Well if I were an admiral it would only take a few months.

I really meant I'm just saving up for the downpayment on a heafty business loan. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 40k to show that I'm serious.

Navy Financial can do some nifty things.
RE: Little help for a future owner? 2006/03/14 16:04:05
ok as a brown water squid from 69 to 72 here goes squid to squid.
1- everything will depend on your menu.
2- the menu will dictate, equipment type, amount of equipment, dishes anything else you can think of to get the food on the plate and the customer to eat.
3- business loans. well that's going to be fun. and if you haven't set the menu you can't even draw up a cost schedule.
ok now what is your rating? are you in food service in the navy? if not how do you know that you will like it? personally to me the worst thing that ever happened was the food channel. too many people get the wrong idea of what is involved.
not trying to shatter your dreams but these are very real things that you must consider.
and by the way when i was younger i just loved to mess with guys who had a degree in management. one of my favorite tricks was to blow out a pilot light and make the "tie" figure out how to relight it. sorry-- i was 40 when i made my switch from engineering to culinary but that management degree (or even my culinary degree) isn't what cooking is about when it comes to "oh my god we have 2 stoves and an oven down and four people out sick and need to get out 1500 covers. what do we do now sous chef???" and you darned well better be able to pull it out of your arse!!!!!!
hope it helps some
i wasn't trying to be mean
and glad you are here
ps. my business loan was killing all the money in my ira to fund my operation
pps. good joke---- wanna know how to make a small fortune???? take a big one and put it in a restaurant
ppps. how did i know i liked cooking?? the navy sent me mess cooking as "punishment" but that is a long and won't be told story
Junior Burger
RE: Little help for a future owner? 2006/03/14 20:35:40
Do you have any experience working in restaurants? That would be a starting point, get a job, stick it out for a year or so, see if you like it, it's not for everyone. Enjoying going to restaurants and working in one are two very different things. Let's see, 150 seats built from scratch, in my neighborhood your starting investment point would be about $1.5M, and that's no frills. Still interested? Read some books, you can learn alot. BTW, thanks for your service to this country.
Junior Burger
RE: Little help for a future owner? 2006/03/14 21:35:03
Thanks alot for the help prisonchef.
Its always nice to hear from squidies.

I sort of figured the menu had alot to do with it but geeze, it affects everything?? Ok so.. I guess I need to figure that out quite a bit in advance huh??

I have NO intention of doing the cooking. I mean I can cook. But not well enough to sell it. I just want to run the sucker and do the PR.

Oh and, please don't laugh, what is special about a sous chef??

I do have some food industry experience. If not limited. I used to run a hot dog cart for a buddy of mine at his regular location and at special events. I know its not the same as "sit-down" restaurant experience but I enjoyed every aspect of it. I was always pushing him to expand the menu but I never could get him to. He just recently opened his own shop. He still serves the dogs but they do BBQ too. I really did enjoy everything about helping him out and running things.

I'm gunning for an Italian posting so I can wander about southern Europe stealing, erm, borrowing recipies for my chef(s).

BTW, my rating is MR. It was originally GSE but I had it switched. I'm already assuming that I'll have to work part-time with the skills garnered as an MR to support the business sometimes. Which is fine by me.

1.5M for 150 seats? Ouchies... ok so... renovating an older structure, sounds great! Hey, it'll have character!
I fully intend to read every book on the subject I can before I even take a baby step.

DinerMiner- No thanks neccessary, proud to serve. I think at least reserve service should be a requirement to obtain citizenship.

Thanks again guys.
RE: Little help for a future owner? 2006/03/14 21:48:26
This kid is a joke,feather this thread.
Junior Burger
RE: Little help for a future owner? 2006/03/14 21:59:48
Why do you say that Doc?
What'd I ever do to you?
Junior Burger
RE: Little help for a future owner? 2006/03/14 23:38:19
Hey drsmoke!

I'm a completely new poster here, though I have been lurking for some time. I have worked in restaurants for most of my post-college adult life(11 years). Give this guy a break. He doesn't know what it takes to run a restaurant. That's why he's here! He wants to know what it takes.

1965, I hope you know by now that starting a restaurant with no experience is not to be taken lightly. Overhead is high and profits are low. And knowledge of the business is key. Restaurants are unlike any other business. You really do need to know how they work. Please, before you consider opening one, take a job at one, even as a dishwasher if that it what is offered to you. Life inside a restaurant is unlike life anywhere else. It's a tightwire act all around. Also, I want to mention that your head cook is going to be your biggest expense, especially if you put them in charge of the menu. High expenses are bad in restaurants. Also, 150 seats may not seem like much, but for someone with little experience, 150 seat is huge. Please consider getting your feet wet with something smaller.

OK, sorry for the long post for a newcomer.
RE: Little help for a future owner? 2006/03/15 15:06:31
1965 (and by the way that was carroll shelby's finest car)
a sous chef reports to the executive chef. what makes the sous chef so great?? and lord never ask that in front of a sous chef is his duties. you see an exec chef is just that, paperwork, pr, future planning that kind of thing. a sous however runs the kitchen and if you are ever fortunate enough like i was to work under a classicaly trained german chef you will soon find out two things. as far as that exec is concerned you are the only one responsible for his standards and the line cooks will find out you are god (and the only to make that stick is by being smater at problem solving then they are). to be a successful sous you must have the cunning of a thief combined with the heart of a pirate captain (as a matter of fact before i started my own business i refered to my best line cooks as my pirates) now this is where it gets fun for you as a gm (hereafter refered to as a tie). how many tricks do you know? do you make 2 enemies take the garbage out together? by the way that is no joke let 2 friends take it out and you just opened yourself up for your inventory disappearing out the back door. do you check the salt and sugar every morning by taste? might wanna do that as a good trick is to put sugar in the salt and salt in the sugar. the list could go on and on but the point is you need some real time in the real world of kitchens otherwise as a tie you are going to get the wool pulled over your eyes and bad!!!!
my best advice at this point is to read anthony bourdains "kitchen confidental" after you do that set your menu. i see you want to go to italy. while there see if you can work your way into a kitchen as free labor. you will be low man on the totem pole but it will give you an idea of what is involved and more importantly the equipment that you will need. most chefs worth their salt will give a guy a chance if he seems sincere and working for nothing is real sincere.
hope it helps some
ps. saw the part about stealing recipes. makes me think you just might have what it takes. ok here is your 1st tip and it was giving to me by my exec walter achatz years ago. steal with your eyes. while most chefs won't share the recipe if you watch long enough and carefully enough you will have it. just never let them see you doing it
Junior Burger
RE: Little help for a future owner? 2006/03/15 16:08:15
Thanks simple. Thats exactly what I'm trying to do.

How much does your average head chef make? 50k? More?
Do you have to have a sous and an exec?

Thanks for the book recommendation. I'll be sure and pick it up.
Also thanks for explaining sous chef. A couple of things make more sense now.

Not to worry; I intend to do as much research and hands-on time as I can before I do anything serious in the future. I mean, I don't plan on making alot of money but I don't want to lose my butt either.

Thanks again,

PS Yes, it is the greatest car to bear the title. Mwhaha.
RE: Little help for a future owner? 2006/03/15 16:21:52
Do you have the "Fine Living" channel?? They have a program called "Opening Soon" each episode is about a restaurant opening soon..or the Food Tv channel has "Recipe for Success".
Best of Luck!!
Filet Mignon
RE: Little help for a future owner? 2006/03/16 06:42:24
1965 sous chef=chief boats. Can't make it any simpler. Chow Jim
John A
Filet Mignon
RE: Little help for a future owner? 2006/03/16 08:25:06
Originally posted by drsmoke02

This kid is a joke,feather this thread.

I'm very surprised at your response.

Good luck,

RE: Little help for a future owner? 2006/03/16 14:08:51
an easy way to find wages is go to the us dept of labor website. from there just type in chef and the area of the country that you are considering and they will show a very nice graph with low, high and median income.
Junior Burger
RE: Little help for a future owner? 2006/03/18 01:16:06
Firstly it depends on what sort fo restaurant you are looking at setting up as was previously pointed out. Also what back gorund in business do you have?

One of the most important things to remember is that it is a business first. Consequently understnading the tax system for the state you are setting up in is very very important. Especially when you consider things like Federal government can offer tax benefits in certain states for setting up. Understanding what you can write off against your tax bill and so on is also very important.

Getting advice is a very important first move. Listen to people whom have been in the hospitality industry for a a number fo years.

People who set up or buy restaurants often fall in the idea of how hard can it be? Truth is that restaurants have the highest ratio of failed business to success in the modern world. Consequently lending institutes are often harder on interest rates let alone deposit ratios.

Because of the high risk involved I would suggest starting with a sure fire style (ie no risk style) restaurant as aopposed ot higher risk style. So for example mexican in California while faicng huge amounts of competition is not going to make too many waves.

Starting at 150 seater is pretty big considering you have no previous hospitality expirience. Do you understand any of the basic costs? 150 chairs plus back ups should cost in the region of $100 USd for moderate quality chairs per chair. Thats 15k on chairs, not including tables, menus, product, and other set up costs. Signage etc...all cost money.

Two areas you should not skimp on.

1) Finding a good restaurant manager whom can help guide you. Listen to the guy/gal make sure they have good references with proven success in their back ground. Their knowledge will prove invaluable in your first two years as oyu come to terms with suppliers, credits issues, beverage supply, customer and data base management.

2) Ensure you have enough capital to fall back on. You will probably loose money in your first year of operation, break even in your second and make a profit in your third if you are LUCKY. If you are unlucky (another Sept 11 - God forbid- comes along and world cash dries up so everyone eats in for a while)it could take 5 years before oyu make a profit. A good accountant will help you greatly in this.
RE: Little help for a future owner? 2006/03/18 19:57:32
Glad to have you here, and thanks for watching my back!
(just ignore some of them)