I would love to open a restaurant but.......

Joined Feb 24, 2017
Wow, I have been writing a business plan for purchasing a restaurant.  My confidence is shaken when I am looking at the financial tragedies that are everywhere as I do my market research.  Is it like this all over or just in my community?  Are Chef's and owners really struggling this much to make a profit in the industry?  According to some of the web pages I have visited same store sales are in the tank and traffic is at a low point really over the past year.  Is it really that bleak?  

What say the crowd?

Joined May 5, 2010
Welcome to ChefTalk Zenfishing.

Opening any business can be a nightmare waiting to happen.

It is common knowledge that many restaurants fail within the first few years.

There are simply so many angles that need to be addressed with regard to owning and operating a restaurant, or any business for that matter.

Unless you are a high end fine dining, venue the margin between profit and loss is a daily battle.

You are vying for the same patron dollars as other restaurants in your near vicinity.

When you look at your business plan what do you see?

Is your restaurant going to be the same as the rest or are you going to have a gimmick to get those dollars and guests into your place?

Remember location, location, location......

The answer to your question  would be 'yes' it is bleak. Opening any business is a crap shoot. Best of luck.
Joined Feb 8, 2015
I would only open a restaurant if you can afford to lose everything you put in.  It could work or not?  Kind of like flipping a coin.  My last chef job was fixing a restaurant that was losing 4 grand a month.  The owners were already over 350 grand in the hole but refused to close the restaurant.  Their pride took over common sense of admitting defeat.  On the flip side every successful restaurant starts out as a dream.  It can be done.  Good luck whatever decision you chose
Joined Feb 8, 2009
The only way I would open a restaurant in this environment is to be Chef owner and 100% of what goes. I would run a very low labor cost and have full control the food cost. I would not have a big over head with Rent or leases. I would keep the operation very lean. 
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Hi Mary,

My standard advice to people on this site asking if they should go to X or Y culinary school (without any prior kitchen work experience) is this:  Go and work in a few restaurants.  If you like the work, the pace, and the people, then go to culinary school.

Quite frankly my advice to you is the same.  Before you take the big plunge, go work for a few restaurants.  Won't cost you a cent, matter of fact, you might earn a few bucks.  Take your time, smile and nod, make all the observations you are capable of, ask as many questions as you dare.  After working in a few places, you should be able to answer your own question. 

Oh, and the work experience will come in handy....
Joined Jan 19, 2014
I would agree with Foodpump that gaining experience by working i restaurants can't be beat, HOWEVER, I'm not sure that actually applies to those looking to buy their own place. Unless you're getting a job on the management side, working in a kitchen isn't going to gain you much insight in  the financial and operations side of the business. Being successful, IMO, is excelling in BOTH the food side and the management side. Having one without the other is a recipe for failure.

I'd want to ask my self the following questions and be able to answer an emphatic YES to all....

1) Have I ever run  a successful business of any kind?

2) Do I have good people management skills?

3) Do I have any marketing experience?

4) Are my negotiating skills above average?

5) Have I identified a unique need and/or location in the area I want to open my concept?

6) Do I have the skills (or can I hire them) to create a menu and run the kitchen?

7) Do I have the funds to open or acquire everything I need PLUS 6 -12 months working capital?

We have a small 38 seater that specializes in upscale short order breakfast and lunch. We've seen significant growth in the 3 years we've been open since we purchased a failing concern. Unlike others have mentioned, we run a high labor cost of over 40% but a very low food cost of under 20% so it all works out to good profitability for us.

Good luck in whatever you try to do.
Joined Jan 17, 2015
One of the worst businesses to run! Don't be fooled by the "glamour" of it, over the years I have seen quite a few owners that didn't really have a proper idea what the business entails. Crucial thing to remember is you need capital to run it once open at a loss for a good while, I would say about a year because you opening the doors doesn't mean people will flock in there immediately. If you open and it's  busy, great but it is more likely it would take time...and in the meantime you will have to pay the wages and the bills. You need to put pen to paper and be honest about it because numbers will tell you what you need to know. It is good being optimistic but when you work things out be realistic about it.

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