Starting a Restaurant? Don’t Waste Money on the Non-essentials

If you’re thinking about starting your first restaurant, it’s important to know where to spend your money. A restaurant is a demanding enterprise. Without careful allocation of your limited resources, it’s easy to see the end in sight, right when you open your doors for the first time. Most restaurants close within a year of opening.

These long odds don’t mean that a restaurant is a game of Russian Roulette. Most establishments that close early do so because of mismanagement. Many people who start restaurants think “you make food, you sell food, you profit.” While, yes, those steps are essential to a successful eatery, there’s much more to success and longevity than that.

One of the biggest factors is how you allocate your money in the first days and weeks, even before the restaurant officially opens for business. Most restaurants open with the help of one or more loans. These restaurant loans represent a finite amount of money, which serves as the fuel to get your business off the ground and into flight. It’s important to put your money where it will be most useful. Here are some considerations.

The Look. Appearances are important, but not to be overemphasized. During the restaurant boom of the past decade, many eateries have endeavored to distinguish themselves with wild or colorful decoration schemes. Unless you really understand your business, it’s important not to rely on gimmicky decor or uniforms. Hire workers who know their craft, not who look the coolest sitting across the interview table. When it comes to outfitting your employees, Chef Works chef apparel is the perfect mix of quality and value. Your crew will look professional and competent.

The Food. It’s important to have an accurate understanding of what your customers want, as well as what you are capable of providing them. People have a taste for quality. Quality is always relative to price and expectations. The jerk chicken at the Jamaican place around the corner might not be fine dining, but its tremendous flavor relative to its affordability is a recipe for perceived quality. The same should be true of your place. Whatever food you sell, it’s important for your menu to feature a few items that can function as house specialties. These items will be what people come back for time after time, and they will fuel word of mouth throughout your local community and food scene. Expand your menu only when you know that your existing dishes are perfect, that they can be made efficiently, and that they can be sold at a significant profit.

The Staff. A good staff is indispensable. The difference between working overexertion and working an appropriate amount depends on the reliability of your staff. Hold plenty of interviews, and follow up with reference contacts. You’ll be glad you did the extra work when a busy service happens and everything goes smoothly because of your excellent team.  

If you use your money effectively, making every dollar count in these three areas, you’ll have a good opening with promise of a long future existence. The early days of a restaurant are challenging, but your success or failure will largely be a reflection of your budget.

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