I remember when I was a manager for a well known chain restaurant. I had spent a couple of years working there and had the opportunity to get to know many of the patrons there on a first name basis. One evening at the bar one of our regular guests said he was thinking of opening a bakery. The first thought that came to mind is, “I don’t think he has any clue of what he’s thinking about getting into”. Nevertheless, I listened attentively as he worked on his second glass of wine at the bar. After he finished telling me his ideas with a wide smile, I could tell that he was waiting for an optimistic response from me. Fortunately, I’m not in the dream crushing business. I simply told him some things that he needed to seriously consider if he decided to move forward. For example the location, the start-up cost, the menu, the chef, and most importantly; the time and energy that would be involved in tackling this endeavor (I will elaborate on this shortly). All-in-all the conversation ended with lets get together and talk business later. Needless to say, we never got together “later” nor has he opened a bakery to this day.
Raising a new born baby full time… for years
When people ask me about starting a restaurant, I like to use the new born baby scenario. For those lucky people who have had the opportunity to raise a new born baby the restaurant is very similar. The difference is that it doesn’t grow and develop as quickly. In the infant stage it requires a great deal of time and attention (you even dream or have nightmares). I can remember doing the pre-construction remodeling. My day usually started about 8am and ended around 7m. Afterwards I usually spent time planning what had to be done the next and/or what needed to be ordered. In all, my day generally ended about 9 or 10 pm.
Moreover, just like early infants the restaurant is always crying. Generally this takes place in the form of phone calls, emails, meetings with vendors, meetings with employee (mostly bad), and meetings with god knows who else is trying to sell you something. At this point of the restaurant development, it’s good to have a smart phone with unlimited minutes because you will need them.
Consequently, although the restaurant is demanding and tiresome just like a new born it does come with rewards. I remember after my daughter was born and I walked her down to the nursing ward. As I was walking I couldn’t stop looking down on her. She looked just like me (only better). The same falls true for your establishment. The way it looks, feels, and performs is a direct reflection upon you. There’s nothing better than sitting down in your own establishment at night and saying “I was directly responsible for creating this”. Also, it brings a wonderful since a pride to know that all your education, experiences, and resources went into building something stable and financially productive.
I know for many opening a restaurant is a life time dream. For those who choose to venture out on their own to create the next new thriving concept, I wish you good luck. However, I encourage you to take the time and do your research and due diligence. Make sure you are ready for the up front financial cost involved with opening or buying an existing establishment. Also, seek out individuals who are already successful in the industry and ask for a little mentoring and guidance. At the end of the day it can be done and achieved. Remember, just treat it like a new born baby and it will grow and prosper.