i want to own my own restaurant

Joined Nov 7, 2003
i want to start the ball rolling on my own restaurant, but haven't got the slightest idea were to begin. any owners with any suggestion on what to and not to do.
Joined May 26, 2001
First, ask yourself WHY you want to own a restaurant, and come back with your answers. Then we can talk. :D
Joined Nov 7, 2003
i want to cook my food and do things the way i want them to be done. i have an idea of the great restaurant i know that i can put together.
why does it seem that i get resounding "no don't even think of it" 's on this subject?
is it really not the thing to do and be unsatisfied putting out a product that you know can be better, but you have to because an owner has told you to do like that?
please enlighten me
Joined Oct 28, 1999
It is a fantastic vision to want to own your own place to express your creativity. If the creative aspect was the only item with which to contend, the restuarant scene would be much different. What you must be aware of, is the STAGGERING amount of work involved with owning/operating a restaurant. Also, you mention "you have to because an owner has told you to do like that"; who else is going to do it? Remember, if you own a restaurant, you need employees that will do things the way YOU want them... unless you plan to do everything yourself.
Just some food for thought.
Joined May 26, 2001
The reason I asked you to think about WHY has a lot to do with what Jim just said. Too many people think that being an owner means that you get to sit around at the bar, welcoming your friends. Or that you have nothing to do but cook your favorite dishes all the time. Or even :eek: that you can make money! Owning a restaurant is the same as owning any other business -- except that it's more like owning about 20 different businesses at the same time.

Let's just say that we will sometimes simulate the "trial by fire" (and by water, and pestilence, and war, and all those other bad things ;) all of which do, in fact, happen in restaurants) to test whether or not you have what it takes to make it. Some of us are restaurant owners or have food-related businesses; some are professional cooks (a very, very few actually have earned the right to be called chefs or pastry chefs -- yes, there is a BIG difference); some work as caterers; some teach. We are all passionate about food and feeding people -- and about doing the absolute best we can in all ways. It may sound far-fetched to refer to it as an exclusive club, but really that's what it is. And so before we'll even consider teaching you the "secret handshake" we want to have a sense that you are "worthy."

So if you have an idea that you really, really, REALLY want to execute, start reading and studying and working. Not just about food and cooking, but also about how to run a business, and about math and accounting, and psychology, and languages, and history, and plumbing -- in other words, everything you'd need to be successful. And if all that seems too daunting (which of course it is, all at one time), take it in small steps. Practice your cooking at home while you learn the other aspects of the business and of managing people. Or start working as a cook somewhere, and bit by bit work on learning the rest.

If you haven't looked around ChefTalk much yet, please do! You're not the first to ask about this, and so you'll find lots more advice. And don't give up your dream. :D
Joined Jul 28, 2001
gather money, then get some more, set a budget, then get some more money. Then, when you've think you've got enough, go get double that amount.
Then you can begin your ride.:D
Good Luck
Joined Jul 2, 2001
I second that Panini. Don't think about using cash flow to survive. It might not be enough. Please take our words to heart. Good food is not enough. You really need to be able to run the business. Of the little things like workmans comp rising 270% over the last 3 yrs. with no claims. Liability ins. hard to come by with a fair premium. Dead beat ex-employees whom the state decides that you need to pay unemployment to even though they were caught stealing. The lawyer fees, the accountant and on and on......
Joined Aug 9, 2000
Hey fodigger you forgot dealing with the raging alcoholics crackheads and garden variety nutjobs lol.
Joined Sep 21, 2001
One reason is that most owners are both ultra conservative yet paranoid at the same time. They MUST be able to be in control of the situation at all times. Stick with what they know because they have the same risks and responsibilities they had before they hired you and will still have long after you are gone. That is how they survive. That is how they stay consistant. And if and when you open your own restaurant you will end up feeling the same way.
PS- If a person hires you to consult on their business, that is great. If a person hires you to fill an existing position, chances are that they are not looking for advise, however good it is.
Joined May 1, 2001
I had a friend some years ago who was a Restaurant/Food Service consultant for one of the "Big 10" accounting firms (yes, THAT long ago).

His take was that over 90% of new restaurants failed in 18 months or less, and that the main reason was undercapitalization -- just not enough dough in reserve to weather the lean times until they built up a clientele.

Bad food, poor service and poor location contributed but, with deeper pockets, many might have survived long enough to overcome the problems.

At the time, I was looking at a number of investment properties, one of which housed a restaurant. I half-jokingly suggested that I might buy the building and open the restaurant myself (It was vacant at the time). His response was that it would be quicker and less painful to draw out all my savings in cash and set fire to the whole thing!

Joined Nov 10, 2001
djnagle,you say you want your own restaurant,here`s a few other things to think about:
1)Do you have the patience of a saint? You`ll need it!!
2)Do you know the right people with the relevant skills & knowledge to help you to see your dream come to life?
3)How much do you know about business accounting,employment law,sales & marketing,etc?
4)Are you a good role model,i.e. can you motivate people,do you like to lead by example.
5Can you train other people? Are you multi-skilled?
I hope this helps you as well as all the excellent advice other people have given you.

Good luck,Leo.
Joined Oct 6, 2002
I highly suggest two things.

1) Come up with a business plan. Cost everything out. The cost of Labor, Parts, Re Decorating, Lease, Insurance etc....

90% of my students enroll in culinary school with the intention of opening up their own restaurants. After their restaurant business project, only 20% still want to pursue that dream.
What they found out was...

it takes a minimum of 300k to open up a restaurant in LA and the average profit range is 3-10%. if your even lucky enough to make a profit
So what that translate is if you are lucky to have a 3% profit in your first year of business you need to make 1 million dollars in revenue in order to make 30 k a year for yourself. Trust me, most restaurants that have been around for a while have a hard time making 1 million a year

2) If you are still interested in owning a restaurant. Take at least 3 years working in restaurants with concepts very similar to yours. Find out how they do business..not just food.
Work out your kinks at these restaurants. I hate to say it but.... if you make a mistake, they pay for it. The worst that can happen is you get fired. I would rather lose a job than my life savings.

and remember...When or if, you open up your restaurant. You don't own it, it owns you.
Joined Jul 28, 2001
djnagle. We aee here fo all your questions, big or small. Use us as a sounding board.You must decelope the liver terchnigue, You will hear lots of crap, sort through the ceap and save what may come in handy later. I procrastinated my dream for 10 years had couod have been retired by now.I'm here for ya and havean opem mind.
Joined Feb 6, 2002
I once thought I wanted my own restaurant.

Then I downgraded to just wanting to be head chef.

Now, I just want to be one of the line cooks at my MIL's place.

In the past few months I've seen the headaches that go along with the business. The equipment problems, the line cook with the drinking problem (I had to also do his job once since he came in too drunk to stand and we were afraid that his breath might catch on fire), staff turnovers, price increases from distributors, trying to figure out where to get $20k for the new air conditioning system. And those are just the minor inconveniences.

I think you have to plan your business right and compile a list of people who can perform specialized jobs in order for your business to run as it should be and not as you imagine.

Joined Sep 21, 2001
Something else to consider is are you a cook or an entrepeneur? I think cooking is the easy part of operating a restaurant. Lets face it- its the part that we know a little about.
When we first started talking to the SBA about restaurant financing, one guy suggested reading a book called "The E Myth". Good cheap advice for people wanting to start their own business. I actually wish you well on opening a place of your own. That book mentioned a horrible statistic- 80% of small businesses close within 5 years...Good luck and then some...


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Don't get yourself down. There are plenty of restaurant types out there which will allow you a life as well. Some of the most successful restaurants are lunch only office building restaurants. Owner operator sandwich shops, morning only pastry and coffee joints. Getting a good deal on your real estate is key. Some of the most high traffic areas in office buildings can be had for pretty cheap because there's traffic only from 7-3, Mon-Fri. Add a self-serve salad bar, paper plates and plastic cups, and you're back home in time for the Simpsons, everyday. Plus you're at your kid's hockey game Saturday night. What a deal.

Joined Nov 7, 2003
thank you for all the input. please keep it coming. i will invite you all to the opening party. it'll be byob with a potluck dinner.
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