Hare-brained idea?

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I roughed out a concept and basic plan for what I called a Partner's Grill as a suggestion for someone I knew who was looking for a (very) small, self ran restaurant. I am not nor have even worked in a restaurant, but I have observed and talked with some people who have. The biggest challenge about having one's own place is that it usually turns out to be an 'eight-day-a-week' job with no time off. My concept prevents that and hopefully would make having and running such a place less draining and maybe even enjoyable?

I thought if I posted the 'outline' here, that could get improved on and maybe even become of use for cooks that would be more happier being their own boss.

What say you?
 

kuan

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Never say never. It could work. Small hot dogs stands in heavy traffic office areas work so why can't a one person restaurant work? You just have to make it as efficient as a hot dog stand.
 
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Never say never. It could work. Small hot dogs stands in heavy traffic office areas work so why can't a one person restaurant work? You just have to make it as efficient as a hot dog stand.
Actually the idea I had was for 2 sets of people - all owners - to trade off working days. All would be owners so no employees and instead of a paycheck, it would be purely 'profit sharing' for the people who worked. Not employee taxes and all the write offs directly to the owners. A simple/limited menu, with daily specials IF those working want to offer those.
 
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I am the daughter of restaurant owners. The restaurant was open for 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. Not too difficult you’d think. And yet it was all-encompassing. The restaurant was the meddling mother in law in our lives. Always there, always demanding, always something that needed attention. And 2 owners is a recipe for disaster. We have a saying in Greek that goes something like “if there are 2 roosters in a coop the sun will never rise.”
 
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There is no such thing as a day off in this industry if you are an owner.
I get your drift on this point, however, why should co-owning not result in (part time) sharing of responsibilities and chores as well as profit sharing?
 

kuan

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If you post your plan with numbers then maybe there is a structure that will work. Otherwise I don't see sales over a $100k for a two person operation splitting a total of 60 hours a week.
 
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I am the daughter of restaurant owners. The restaurant was open for 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. Not too difficult you’d think. And yet it was all-encompassing. The restaurant was the meddling mother in law in our lives. Always there, always demanding, always something that needed attention. And 2 owners is a recipe for disaster. We have a saying in Greek that goes something like “if there are 2 roosters in a coop the sun will never rise.”
Yes, the 'cooperation' element is THE big main factor in making such a potential function. Yet when one is an employee in such an endeavor, doing the 'job' is the main focus, not 'hmmm how can I fight with the others here'. All one would have to do is 1) have an agreement as to who does what, when etc. and 2) that is only with ONE other person (who works that same time). It seems to me that with a very small enterprise and 2 people who can and will get along, why wouldn't that work out? The worse that I could foresee is 'separate' tools/refrigerators/supplies for each pair of 'workers [owners]' could require a bit bigger kitchen area?
And thanks for your honest and insightful feedback.
 
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If you post your plan with numbers then maybe there is a structure that will work. Otherwise I don't see sales over a $100k for a two person operation splitting a total of 60 hours a week.
Interesting that you brought up potential pay back. If this was undertaken in a 'high rent area', its not likely to be worth the pay back that could be gained. However, aren't there many capable people who suffer and chaff working as a stove slave with near minimum wage pay? If those same people were able to able to create their own situation, even if it was almost a 'break even' pay back wise, wouldn't they not only be prouder and happier AND offer an excellent option to customers than another 'clone' of either sandwich shop, burger haven, pizza dive, etc.? Also, as recently posted - parents would NOT have to be captive to an 8-day-a-week income source. Heck even if the chef did some of their 'prep' work at home, they would at least be with their children more? Just looking for potential alternatives that could help stove slaves become solo 'chefs' (beyond food trucks which have their own negatives).
 
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OK, a bit of background that might shine light on what prods me -
I live in a small community (town = 700, area many retired who do like to eat out, and few younger local people with near zero 'job' potential) In this small town there are TEN restaurant/cafe places, all but 3 are empty/closed down. And of the 3 that are functioning, the menus are pretty much 'sandwich' options. One is a 'Mexican' place, but it has changed menus often trying to offer different things, sadly POORLY.
It seems like IF a few of those who are wanting to work and be willing to offer something decent/different, business could be good enough to please owners and customers alike. One of the currently defunct places was a going cafe that closed mainly because the building owners wanted too much $$ and wouldn't keep the place up. Everyone misses it, but no one seems to want to do the work? And if you are thinking - hmmm, why don't YOU try it? That's a valid question and here's why - I'm RETIRED, though I cook (at home) every day. Hubby & I would love to be customers, not owners. And there are many more like us here too. Where are the 'able and willing'?!? For sure they lack a 'plan' as well as motivation?
 
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If you post your plan with numbers then maybe there is a structure that will work. Otherwise I don't see sales over a $100k for a two person operation splitting a total of 60 hours a week.
You are so right - I do NOT know the reality of the numbers involved. But as Ramsey notes, most places crash in first year because they don't do the math or are realistic about costs vs. potential income. Factoring in PLEASING customers is hard to 'count' too.
 
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A small place like that would never make enough money to satisfy the pay needs of the four people working in it...even with no labor cost/payroll to consider think about how much "profit" you'd have to make to make it worthwhile for all involved. Your customers aren't going to pay a lot of money for food based on the description of the town you live in, and how many customers do you think 2 people could handle in a given hour/day? How much revenue is that?

What happens when the owners disagree on something? What happens when one set of owners leaves the place consistently filthy for the next couple to walk in...what happens when one set of owners forgets to order food for the next day? What happens when one set of owners takes food home from the walk in to throw a party for friends? Or raids the bar? Or takes cash out of the till?

Do you have two separate dining experiences on alternating days? Does one couple do, say, Tex Mex food and the other does Italian? What if one couple does more work than another...say one couple accounts for 75% of the business revenue (their food tastes better, they have better service, they are running the place on busier weekends), but are they still expected to split everything 4 ways?

What happens if someone gets sick? Who covers? Does the place just shut down? What about vacation? Does the restaurant close?

The idea behind your vision is a nice one, I don't fault you for trying to think outside the box and whatnot. The reality is...the restaurant business can be soul crushing, hard, dreary work. It is immensely difficult to even eek out a 5-10% profit. As you stated, most restaurants fail within a few years of opening.

For restaurants to succeed they need 1 vision...not 2 or 3 or 4 possibly competing visions.
 
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A small place like that would never make enough money to satisfy the pay needs of the four people working in it...even with no labor cost/payroll to consider think about how much "profit" you'd have to make to make it worthwhile for all involved. Your customers aren't going to pay a lot of money for food based on the description of the town you live in, and how many customers do you think 2 people could handle in a given hour/day? How much revenue is that?

What happens when the owners disagree on something? What happens when one set of owners leaves the place consistently filthy for the next couple to walk in...what happens when one set of owners forgets to order food for the next day? What happens when one set of owners takes food home from the walk in to throw a party for friends? Or raids the bar? Or takes cash out of the till?

Do you have two separate dining experiences on alternating days? Does one couple do, say, Tex Mex food and the other does Italian? What if one couple does more work than another...say one couple accounts for 75% of the business revenue (their food tastes better, they have better service, they are running the place on busier weekends), but are they still expected to split everything 4 ways?

What happens if someone gets sick? Who covers? Does the place just shut down? What about vacation? Does the restaurant close?

The idea behind your vision is a nice one, I don't fault you for trying to think outside the box and whatnot. The reality is...the restaurant business can be soul crushing, hard, dreary work. It is immensely difficult to even eek out a 5-10% profit. As you stated, most restaurants fail within a few years of opening.

For restaurants to succeed they need 1 vision...not 2 or 3 or 4 possibly competing visions.
Thanks for the reality check feedback. Yes, doing the math BEFORE launching into such an effort would tell the tale.

Yes is a small town, but it also is near 3 other small towns with like population demographics.

And a whole lot of agreements - clean up, food purchase responsibility, overhead payments (elec. rent etc.) would need to be set up too. A bar, even though its usually a higher profit maker, would be less likely. And as far as cash out of the till, each set of partners would benefit or not based on their day(s) receipts. No free ridership. As to menu selections, a basic one - say Pan Asian or BBQ or whatever, would allow a certain predictability for customers to have when they feel like eating out. As for the sick/vacation/flaked out person question, at least there would be someone else who could stand in, and flaked person might forfeit some of their initial capital if they back out without notice are replacement.

Considering that there is a desire for what such a place could provide, and it would seem that there are capable but un'employed' people sitting around, why doesn't someone turn off the TV and start scratching out figures to see if its a viable, even more honorable, alternative to burger flipping, WalMart greeting and a whole lot more soul satisfying than workfare?

But then again, I dream . . .
 
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There are capable "worker bees" but most are not capable of owning and running a restaurant.
A restaurant with multiple owners, partners is a recipe for disaster.
 
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There are capable "worker bees" but most are not capable of owning and running a restaurant.
A restaurant with multiple owners, partners is a recipe for disaster.

So I guess the old pattern will remain - passionate cooks working themselves to death and perpetual employees that live from pay check to pay check . . .
 

kuan

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Like I said, bring your numbers and we are willing to listen, because as we see it, the numbers cannot work out. Sometimes we are stuck in the way we see things, but you have to be able to convince people. If this is all you have nobody is going to help you fund your operation, even your vendors will ask you to be COD or even worse, pay first talk later.
 
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Thanks for the reality check feedback. Yes, doing the math BEFORE launching into such an effort would tell the tale.

Yes is a small town, but it also is near 3 other small towns with like population demographics.

And a whole lot of agreements - clean up, food purchase responsibility, overhead payments (elec. rent etc.) would need to be set up too. A bar, even though its usually a higher profit maker, would be less likely. And as far as cash out of the till, each set of partners would benefit or not based on their day(s) receipts. No free ridership. As to menu selections, a basic one - say Pan Asian or BBQ or whatever, would allow a certain predictability for customers to have when they feel like eating out. As for the sick/vacation/flaked out person question, at least there would be someone else who could stand in, and flaked person might forfeit some of their initial capital if they back out without notice are replacement.

Considering that there is a desire for what such a place could provide, and it would seem that there are capable but un'employed' people sitting around, why doesn't someone turn off the TV and start scratching out figures to see if its a viable, even more honorable, alternative to burger flipping, WalMart greeting and a whole lot more soul satisfying than workfare?

But then again, I dream . . .

So I guess the old pattern will remain - passionate cooks working themselves to death and perpetual employees that live from pay check to pay check . . .


It's not a terrible idea...as an ideal. Unfortunately the realities of running a restaurant, even as a two-some or four-some, are usually far from ideal.

We aren't trying to be discouraging (well, maybe we are a little) but to show you the some of the headaches that might arise from doing what you are talking about. If you feel that you have suitable answers to all these issues, then by all means go for it. Invest your money....

Everyone could and likely would enter into the agreement with the best intentions. There are a multitude of potential landmines, even in addition to the ones I talked about above. Those were just "for instances" and not really based on your particular, specific idea.

What if one couple makes enough to cover there share of the rent/bills, but one doesn't? Who pays for that? Do both restaurants go under then?

But numbers will tell the tale. These are going to be imaginary numbers, so keep that in mind, but lets just do some basic math. Lets say that, minimum, you want to pay each person $50k a year. So that is 200k in profit and/or labor savings in order to pay your owners that wage. So if we assume a 30/30/30/10 scenario (not at all realistic, but lets just pretend) where it is 30% food, 30% labor, and 30% bills/overhead, and 10% profit. You would need to make $500k a year in revenue to cover that. The 30% labor is waived, and the 10% profit goes right into the pocket, so we are at 40% of revenue kept by the 4 owners ($200k, or $50k each).

So, for $500k in revenue, lets just assume we are open 365 days a year. That means we need to make $1,370 a day in order to hit our target. If we assume that we average $15 a person for them to eat (I'm guessing based on small town demographics, your descriptions of successful restaurants, etc for what people will expect to pay per meal) that means we'd need to serve 90 people a day to hit that number. That means that about 13% of the local population have to eat there every day.

Does that seem do-able to you? Are you in an area where people come to visit (tourist, etc?)

You might have some luck if you research some community based restaurants? I dunno if anyone has done what you are proposing before. If you can't find examples of your idea, there is probably a good reason why. You can't be the first to think of a multi-owner profit share restaurant as you describe it.

I appreciate your outside the box thinking, but the realities are a lot different then pie in the sky dreaming.
 
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"Could you please expand your comments so I can better understand WHY you foresee failure?"

All Chiefs ... NO Indians.
 

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