Running your own restaurant could be considered one of the most pressing business ideas and developments to get right. There is very little margin for error when trying to establish yourself as a brand. It’s likely that competition is fierce no matter where you decide to set up, and so the general margin for error is much lower than you might expect.
No exhaustive list of advice regarding opening and running your own restaurant would come to a word count less than 10,000, and so the advice in this list will be in no way a complete one. However, if flirting with the idea of opening your own brand and crafting something which can stand the test of time, then the following advice and guiding principles can potentially allow you to make waves as soon as you set up your business open for trade:
A great restaurant needs great branding behind it, especially if it hopes to stand out among the competition. This should also be tailored in response to the competition around you. For example, if you’re in an area with many fast food pizzerias, then branding yourself along the lines of a gourmet pizzeria can allow you to stand out and provide something new in the marketplace. Of course, this step cannot be completed until you have assessed the cuisine you most want to sell. It might be that you are the only Caribbean joint in the neighborhood, which means continually hammering home your unique presence is somewhat essential to being considered a place of interest.
Hire competent graphic designers to design your logo, and try to invent a name easy to remember with some emotional depth and relevance to your cuisine. For example, a family run Italian joint might be named ‘Salvo’s’ after the grandfather who taught you and your relative and business partner to cook. People need to remember a name, a logo and an aesthetic, so make sure your entire branding effort is cohesive and well worthy of coming back to time and time again.
The location of your restaurant will speak volumes to its success. Sometimes the best restaurants are hidden away down the side streets, but they will usually have adequate sign postings in these environments. The location will also depend on how many people you hope to cater for. It might be that your gourmet restaurant is much more interested in a higher class of guest with less frequency, and so a location that takes a few more minutes to arrive to could be perfectly justified. You may even be able to save money staying out of the high streets in this instance.
Overall your location will be determined by your budget, but if you can choosing the best location for your money can truly affect your natural amount of walk-in guests that attend. Sometimes a restaurant off of the main streets but with a visible open glass window and bustling inside environment and warm decors can attract people from even the highly choreographed high street and to give you a try.
The equipment you use in your firm will determine how well your kitchen staff can operate. From freshly installing insulated roofing for walk in refrigerators and freezers, to replacing the grills or deep fat fryers, it’s important to ensure your kitchen is well optimized for use with the ideal amount of kitchen staff you need. A separate dishwashing area is always pleasant to have, as is plenty of moveable room to prevent chefs from having to tread on each other’s toes to pass.
Equipment could also be considered everything a patron needs to enjoy their meal. From drinking glasses to seating arrangements to a bar from which to order to the cutlery and silverware, it’s important to stock all items of your restaurant with one or similar suppliers in the interest of bulk ordering and cohesive design. Checking more exhaustive lists detailing every implement a restaurant needs to function effectively will give you a laundry list of items to pay attention to, and to compare and contrast the utility of upon a purchase.
Your menu is the bible of your restaurant. It matters exactly how you curate this, as every word matters. Allowing your specialized chef some great utility over the food can allow the entire menu to become well thought out and planned from a singular vision. This is why hiring a great and competent chef is so important, as they can literally and figuratively improve the dining experience of every guest you have. There’s an idea that the true restaurant is the restaurant provided to our mouths as our taste buds are enveloped, and this has some credence when you become lucky enough to eat somewhere that truly satisfies your hunger and blows you away from a taste perspective.
Make sure that all items on your menu are fresh and ideally locally sourced. This allows you to be a business with food worth tasting, one which supports local businesses and receives a potential helping hand in return. Isolate your choices around portion control from dish to dish, how they will be presented and how best to tailor to differences in dietary requirements.
Make sure your menu is never too long, ideally no longer than two to three pages and a wine list. Much better a menu with a targeted theme than one trying to achieve too many things at once. Following this logic – always only attempt to go for one cuisine. There is simply not utility in trying to provide two if you hope to achieve great food.
Your chef is the general of your kitchen, meaning that hiring a competent one is important if you’re to get anywhere at all. They should be allowed to make changes to your menu pending your approval, and source their own ingredients. They should be able to balance the books, efficiently conduct stock rotations and inventories as well as develop a cohesive framework around how they would like their kitchen staff to operate. Hiring a competent chef might mean paying a salary you consider to be more expensive than you originally intended.
The benefits of doing so can vastly outweigh the financial burden. Also, make sure your chef is happy provided he treats your business, your guests and his kitchen staff with respect. Allow full dominion over the kitchen to your chef, and see them more as a partner as someone to be fully dictated with. A great and worthwhile chef is a fountain of great ideas, but only if you allow that fountain to be fully functional.
For goodness sake, celebrate their success. If your food is celebrated, allow all of that acclaim to go to the kitchen staff and the chef who leads them. If they do well, allow for their picture to be featured on your social media platforms and even on your menu. They deserve to be recognised, and the long hard hours in the kitchen a chef must encounter is usually rewarded tenfold when they feel appreciated and thanked for their efforts.
Your staff need to be competent, and they need to understand how to achieve their tasks. They should be well versed in their social skills, and have the ability to manage issues well. This means training them well and investing in their development. It means systemizing the dining experience so they know how to introduce, cater to and capitalize on a given table. Reward good work with extra bonuses and be sure to allow the staff to split the tips often, nightly if possible. It might be that you allow staff to keep their own tips, but they must declare the amounts so you aren’t penalized from a tax perspective.
It can be extremely helpful to plan the entertainment your place offers, especially during the first few launching weeks. As long as this doesn’t interfere with the eating experience and the flow of natural conversation, you might be onto a winner. This might be a live and relaxed jazz band playing at a reasonable volume, or simply a playlist of relaxing songs played over the surround sound speakers you have set up using your cloud music system.
People come to restaurants to eat and share that experience, so the entertainment you give must always enhance that and never detract from it. If you strike this balance well, your ambience will be absolutely spot on, and this can attract more than your fair share of walk-ins from outside (a goal to be reached!)
Unique (Better Than Home)
Overall you must identify what you can do better than people can do at home. Hopefully, every factor works into this, but the food is paramount. People head out to eat, and if they feel they could have done a better job, something is truly wrong. If you manage your staff training correctly, you provide a unique and fresh approach to your menu without injecting snobbery or being overkill, and you can provide a wonderful atmosphere to your patrons, you have a great restaurant on your hands.
With this advice followed, you can be sure that the initial underpinnings of a wonderful restaurant worthy of acclaim will be yours to develop from.