Following my passion

Discussion in 'New User Introductions' started by aprilb, Feb 7, 2006.

  1. aprilb

    aprilb

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    Hey, everyone...!

    I'm glad to have found this site!

    I'm finally following my dream to open a restaurant. I've cooked my own life, been an artist and recently worked in big commercial kitchens and little commercial 5 star kitchens (I wasn't impressed)

    I know I can do it I'm just totally freaked about finally seriously looking to lease my own restaurant, :eek: and need to re-vamp a menu catered to the area, (growing rural/cowboy type) organize the place and re-decorate. It's in a growing community of 30k+ people 60 miles W. of Las Vegas and it's not easy.

    Anyway, HI... I'm looking forward to sharing info and tips.

    April :bounce:
     
  2. markv

    markv

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    April:

    I wish you the best. I'm a little unclear on which way you're headed. You said revamping growing/rural cowboy/type?

    I'm not always that quick on the draw on the first impression, so I'm not sure what you mean.

    What specific type of cooking are you aiming for?

    I hope you hit gold.

    Mark
     
  3. andrew hope

    andrew hope

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    I have watched enough reality food shows to know you need to know your market. Best luck I can't wait to open my own some day :)
     
  4. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    April, you've come to the right place to learn and share with other people in the industry. Not to throw cold water on things, but we even have a forum about the opposite side of a restaurant's life: its closing. I'm sure there are lessons to be learned there as well.

    Please make yourself at home and enjoy all this site has to offer. We'll look forward to your posts.

    Welcome!
    Mezzaluna
     
  5. aprilb

    aprilb

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    Ok, I'll address the question about "re-vamping". The restaurant has gone through several different mutations. The last was a steakhouse that served $30 surf and turf. IMHO the decor in the dining room in addition to the type of people who live here just is not ready for an upscale place. I mean, we're halfway between Death Valley and Las Vegas in what used to be a heavy agricultural area: Cowboys, Dairys and the like, and turned into a bedroom community with retirement people

    So I'm not really surprised it closed. I'm also looking at it as an intense learning experience. I KNOW I can do it ... I just don't KNOW I can do it...know what I mean? (stage fright?) When I'm not in a kitchen I'm just not whole. When I'm IN one I'm on fire and forget about time and paychecks. Anyone else feel that way?

    I grew up with basic Iowa food. I learned from my grandma and it stuck like glue (along with all the other wonderful starchy delicious stuff she made) I think with all the commercial Casino's that are here that I'll be competing with (plus Pahrump is spread out over miles and miles of desert) and the other restaurants in the valley they need more just good ol' food.

    The upside is it's connected to a bar/casino and I wouldn't need to have a liquor license. The bar would get the proceeds from alcohol sales. I think that's a win/win situation.

    I'm trying to keep the initial menu simple but my imagination just has a mind of its' own.

    I've got about a half dozen books about the managerial side of restaurants (this one is small and would have about 25 tables that seat 4 each) but you do the multiplication and...yeah....

    I've been in big commercial kitchens and small commercial kitchens and the principles are all the same just scaled up or down.

    If anyone can give me any hints or links I'd greatly appreciate it!

    April
    :roll:
     
  6. blueschef

    blueschef

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    Hi April!
    Welcome!
    I would say decide who you want to target. I do not know the area but is is Retirees, faimlys with kids, a funkey bar with good food? My other advice is to do something unique to the area. If there is no GOOD pizza/italian diners (that is what I call the run of the mill mom and pop pizza joints). Do that. If there is no good Mexican/Tex mex, do that. Same with BBQ, Southern cooking, soul food, diner food. You should try to work to your strengiths, if you are good and comfortable with Iowa food (I an not exactly sure what that is but I am guessing Mack and Cheese, Meatloaff, etc), work in that areina but put a twist on some of the plates. Look at food trends and try to keep ahead of them or follow them. In todays media soceity people (our guest) are reading more food mags and watching more food tv, but stick with your basics as well, just throw them a bone once in a while. I always think it is good to have a signature dish or two. There is a place near where my wife keeps her horse called the coventry inn. They have been there for some time when you walk in behind the bar they have a roast beef sitting in Au Jus and it makes the whole place smell great as soon as you go in, it smells like "home".
    Also, keep you dream alive but before you get any keys make sure it is financially viable. Check your capital investment (whether cash or loans or leases) and your break even and be sure what you want is at least attinable in the facility you are looking at. Also look at parking, access (do people have to turn around to get to your place), is it on a main strip or easy to see. Remember the first 3 rules of restaurants Location, location, location!
    Good luck!
    Tom
     
  7. aprilb

    aprilb

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    Thanks...

    Iowa food: Pork chops, mashed potatos, corn, brisket, gravy, sausage and bisquits, steak and egg kind of fare. Obviously home-made kind of food. Hands on and not mass produced. No towering towers with a sprig of mint or the 3001 variation of fried goat cheese.

    I was thinking a simple standard menu with daily specials. In addition to items that they can take into the bar like burritos (I make killer Mexican food), nachos, salty finger food stuff that will improve the bar tab. (then the owner will LOVE me...LOL) Hoagies and Po-Boys...

    I think I'll skip the pizza thing until I can find a genuine NY Pizza by the slice recipe. You know: the kind of sloppy loose kind of thin stringy mozzarella unique not overly messed with sauce thing? It seems like the first thing that new restaurants here do: Italian, Chinese, Mexican and then you have the not impressive Casino buffets and a couple of bbq's.

    I've been studying like mad but what I would like to know is how do you calculate how many of what to make of a special? How do you predict the future? For instance I asked the line cooks at my former employer (the 5 star wannabe) as to how you determine how many Beef Wellington's you prep for and they couldn't give me a direct answer. During the busy season it had anywhere from 150 to 200 reservations so I should think they should have some sort of clue?

    Does anyone have any "best guess Mr. Sulu" formulas for that sort of thing or do you only make so many and when they're gone ... well...you're SOL.

    Anyway...thanks again...
    April
     
  8. blueschef

    blueschef

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    It sounds to me like you want a local kind of place the people can feel like they are welcome and "everybody knows their name". You want to figure out what you want to be when you grow up, a mission statement, they are not silly business acolades, it is a very seriois point of standards that tell you where you want to be and help you gat a directive on how to get there.
    The ole top 3 are Italian, Chinese/asian and mexican, everybody does that because it will gaurintee you a certan amount of business. Look, pizza joints make $, thats why there is so many.
    As far as how to figure out specials. Is the key ingredent something that is on your menu (ie. Chicken breast, filet, sirloin, pork loin, whatever). is it an ala minute item, can you use it somewhere else, how much prep and effort go into it? Even if it is something on your menu if it does not sell can you use it again or did you make it special spific? Toke for example the wellington:
    you have filet(is on your menu), now you put mushrooms and Liver on it and wrap it in pastry. If there are any left, what are you going to do with them?
    Another rule of thumb, lets say you work and prep 25 wellingtons, the last 3 or 4 are your PROFIT, the rest went to paying all the bills, etc. So it is imperative that you sell those last 3 and yes, 86 it, it is a special not a menu item.
    There is a place here that does an amazing business with prime rib (and it is good and very expensive). When you call to make a reservation they ask you if you want a rib, how big and do you want an end cut. So they comtroll there useage and get an idea on any night how much rib they will sell.
    If you are going to make homemade food you wat to "kill them with kindness". Ask yourself as a customer, why do I want to go to Aprl B's American Bistro? Because it is good, they know me/us and we feel welcome there. Why do I want to go to the casino buffet (I admit I have never been to one)? Because I get tons of food cheap.
    So, whow is going to be your competition, in your nitch (that you have outlined in your mission statement), and how am I going to pull my share of that group into my place?
    I hope that helps you, and does not frustrate you! Follow your dreams!
    Tom