Avoid Common Mistakes When Opening Your Own Restaurant

If you’ve ever watched the show "Kitchen Nightmares," you’ve seen what can happen when entrepreneurs try to run their own restaurants without a clear sense of what's involved. In order to be successful in the restaurant business, you need a great location, interesting concept, organized and thoughtful menu, diligent chef — and above all, you have to be a good leader with business savvy.

Before you decide to open your own restaurant, consider the following questions:

What makes you special?

Decide what you can offer that sets you apart from the competition. If you’re counting on being able to make a better burger than the other 10 burger restaurants on a particular street, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

You’ll need to come up with a reason customers choose your restaurant over others. Whatever that is — local ingredients, a stunning waterside location or exotic fare that’s new to your town — focus on building your restaurant around your single strongest attribute. Obviously, you’ll need to consider other factors, but having a strong concept is a surefire way to get customers in the door.

What can you spend on equipment?

Another mistake you’ll see on "Kitchen Nightmares" is owners who skimp on equipment. You can’t serve good food if you don’t have the proper equipment to safely store it and prepare it.

One of the biggest costs in starting a restaurant is the investment you need to make in quality refrigeration equipment and reliable cooking appliances. You’ll need a deep-freezer, walk-in cooler, gas oven, gas range, grill and fryer. That may be enough to get started, but if you anticipate growing and accommodating larger crowds, you should earmark some budget for equipment upgrades.

You could buy used equipment to reduce startup costs, but the advantage of new items is that they’ll be under a manufacturer's warranty.

Who will create the best experience for patrons?  

You may already have strong opinions about what your menu should look like, but until you find a qualified chef, don’t get too hung up on your own ideas. As the owner, your job is primarily to make sure the business runs smoothly, so hire a chef with formal culinary training and give that person the freedom to craft some stunning entrées. The chef should also have a say in hiring decisions for other kitchen positions, to ensure the staff works well as a unit.

Hire a general manager who can oversee the functions of the kitchen and the wait staff. While you may want to be involved in the interviewing and hiring process for front-of-the-house staff, trust your general manager to choose the best people for the job.

How will you attract — and keep — customers?

When you hold a grand opening, you’ll probably have a lot of curious diners come through the doors. But afterwards, you’ll need to survive the first few lean months as the new restaurant in town before you build a steady following.

The best customers are the ones already seated in your restaurant — treat them well, and never hesitate to provide them with complementary cocktails or a free dessert if their entrées are taking a bit longer than you’d hoped. Those little perks mean a lot to customers, and when customers leave feeling happy, they’ll likely recommend your restaurant to their friends.

To avoid ending up on "Kitchen Nightmares," plan well, be patient and offer diners an experience they can’t find anywhere else.

 

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Tuesday, 20 November 2018
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