Finances & Money

Starting a Restaurant? Start Small and Grow

Cleverdude_ApplianceStockupPicStarting restaurants is one of those exciting propositions that people feel very conflicted about. Everybody knows that the restaurant industry is tough to succeed within. This is true whether you’re washing dishes or whether your face is pictured on the menu. Trends and customer preferences change at the drop of a hat, and the challenges of operating such a complex business makes it easy to burn out and slip up.

If you’re thinking about opening up a restaurant of your own, this isn’t a hint to choose another profession. On the contrary, we can always use another great place to eat. The problem is that most places aren’t, and there are a million ways to mess up a young restaurant. It takes a lot of focus and knowledge to make it work. Here are a few methods that are serving young restaurateurs very well these days.

  • Start Small. Whether it is the ubiquitous food truck scene in every major American city, or the tiny startup spaces for chefs in Baltimore, young restaurateurs are learning that it’s important to start small. The point isn’t to achieve smallness itself; anybody can do that. It’s about beginning with a system that’s easy to achieve, and achieve to a high level of excellence. That’s why the food truck thing works. Young chefs can focus all their energies on making two kinds of tacos, or three kinds of burritos, or one variety of barbecue – and making each dish spectacular for each customer. This strategy makes sense. If each customer leaves happy, they’ll be so much more likely to tell their friends and come again. Why start with something that’s too big and expensive for you and your crew to handle? Start small.
  • Focus on the Look. In the first days, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on decor. You won’t have a lot of money to spend anyway. So you should make each expenditure count. Use your lack of funds as an opportunity to find exciting and affordable ideas, for things like cups, marketing materials, and even the best iPad POS you can find. Even if you can’t afford the services of a great graphic designer, you should still focus on the look of your restaurant. Every visual choice you make improves or detracts from your brand.
  • Make Good Food. The smaller your menu, the more focus you have to put into each dish. Take hours replicating your menu items, trying variations, looking for new techniques to make them more interesting and tasty. Each improvement you make will add value to your customers’ experience, and will make you a more indispensable service provider.

Today is always a challenging time to open a new restaurant; Today is always the best time to open a new restaurant. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in your region. People always have room in their stomachs for something delicious. Find a way to be that thing and you’ll do just fine. Keep things simple and keep your finances sound, and you’ll be in business years from now.

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