Need Help Opening a New Restaurant

Joined Apr 12, 2006
I'm a Sous Chef and have NEVER opened a New restaurant, a friend of mine just came into a ton of cash and purchased a restaurant. I am in way over my head but he wants to wait to hire a CHEf !!!

He wants me to help with everything, purchasing plates, silverware, writing a menu, setting up prep lists, inventory ect...

Would anyone out there have a Opening Check list for opening ?
Inventory sheets
Prep sheets
Bar set up and inventory sheets for bar
Any info on training floor staff..

Joined Mar 3, 2002
Where is this restaurant? Why does he want to wait to hire a chef? That is the first thing that you want to do when opening a new venue is to hire a chef!
Joined Jun 28, 2005
I agree, that having a chef is probably the most important part, before anything else can be done.

Inventory sheets will come with the items on the menu. You don't want a list of items that you wont' be using. A lot of places just enter the items they use, into an Excel sheet or something like that.

THere's lots more of course to opening a restaurant, but let me ask this, has your friend ever owned a restaurant or run one? even been in the business before?
Joined Dec 1, 2005
tell you friend to keep his money, he will obviously be part of the 80% of restaurants that fail. Secondly if you are way over your head why are you the sous chef, these are things that you should already have a pretty good idea of. If the chef is suddenly unable to come to work it is your job to do what he does. If you do not know how to do thes things you should not yet be a sous chef. this restaurant sounds like a terrible idea, but it could just be me.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
He can hire me. Nah... that would sit badly on my conscience. He spent too much money on a restaurant and now he thinks he can get free labor out of you? :D
Joined Oct 10, 2005
My "spidey senses" are tingling. Yours should be too. If you want to go along for the ride and see how someone throws away his money, and then looks at you for an excuse as to why he's bankrupt and owes you salary, then stick around. Keep him as friend and walk away from this one.
Joined Oct 12, 2005
Yeah, it sounds like you are over your head. And it sounds like you are feeling scared. But, damnit, you only live once. Yes, it may fail, but it may not. Is this something you have always dreamed of? I say go for it. I am sure you have alot of contacts in the biz where you are. Pick there brains. Draw on their experience. I say jump in and go for it. If your friend doesn't want to hire a chef , well, be the chef. Fulfill that role. Everyone had there first time somewhere. And if it fails, well, pick yourself up and see what went wrong, and don't do the wrong again.
Joined Apr 9, 2006
yeah.,. lost my best friend of 15 years when i worked for him at his restaurant.. havent spoken to this day.. if there is one industry that can destroy relationships.. its this one...

if you do decide to stay... jsut be thorough.. and thorough 20 more times... ... and dont forget to buy take out containers... nothing like opening day and no take out containers... ( i speak from experience)
Joined Jul 28, 2001
I'm thinking your question has not been answered. I would try to find something in print. Maybe a school book. There must be something written on the subject of openings. I think that helping with the purchasing and things like that would be a plus for you. Just make sure you're not shy about letting someone know that you don't know something. There are a lot of salespersons for large distributors that specialize in opening items.
good luck
Joined Apr 9, 2006
but also be wary of "openers" from distributers... some times they do nothing more then raise thier price to cover the amount of time they spend helping you...

i actually saw an owner go to another rep of the same company thru a friend of his and wound up with a $5k difference in what he actually paid..

the one thing to remember about large puyveors and thier salesmen.. the salesmen themselves have influence over what you pay for items.. .. they can in essence rob you blind.. or make your survivablilty longer..
Joined Jan 25, 2006
You or your friend may wish to consult the website:

They have a great deal of information on the restaurant business and have some great resources for restaurant management including restaurant business plans. It is not a cheap site, but compared to learning the hard way it's a bargain.
Joined Mar 12, 2006

you guys are funny, and just begging for an opening check list, before you spend money, have a concept first, pushing pencils, get it on paper. well good luck.

chef Kaiser
Joined Apr 17, 2006
I shouldn't say I learned the hard way as it was a lack of money and support from my partners that made my experience at opening a restaurant so difficult. I will never do it again (at least not this week).
First, establish what type of reastaurant you want. Make sure you and you partner are in complete agreement on what that should be. I cannot stress this enough. Consider your location and make sure your concept will work in the area you are in. If you are in an area that has many restaurants, try to offer something different. Be original; don't try to copy someone else's successful concept, you will only wind up looking like a cheap knock off. Do what you know how to do. If you have a particular style of cooking that you excel at, go with it. Keep it simple in the beginning. Make up a bare bones menu, you can always flesh it out with specials. This allows you to find out what works and what doesn't without locking an item into the menu that doesn't sell. If an item is very popular, you can then decide to add it to your main menu. Try to stock only items that can be used in more than one dish. This reduces your inventory and saves on start up costs. An example of this might be a boneless chicken breast that can be grilled for a sandwich, cut into strips and battered for an appetizer or prepared as an entree dish or two. Four uses, one ingredient.
Most suppliers have a service that will design a menu for you. I did mine on Microsoft publisher and was told by a supplier that it was as nice as what they would have done, but it was also very time consuming and you may need to focus your energy elsewhere.
Keeping your menu simple allows you to master the dishes you offer before expanding into new items. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, you will run into production problems. This way you can iron out the wrinkles easier.
Make sure your equipment works. Just because your grill heats up doesn't mean it works right. ( Boy did I find THAT out the hard way!) Do at least two trial runs a week or two before you open. We did one the day before we opened and it left us no time to correct problems.
Try to foresee worst case scenarios at every turn. You'll have some nasty surprises no matter what, but not so many. Carry a list around with you so you can add items you're going to need as they occur to you, because you need everything from salt and pepper on up.
Above all, believe you can do it. Other people do, and you can too.
One more thing, make as many things from scratch as labor allows. There is a big difference between restaurants that make their own soups and dressings etc., and those that don't and customers notice.
Joined Dec 8, 2003 has some free stuff others you can sign up and buy

also helpful kitchen and foh stuff

a fool and his money will soon be parted
Joined Jan 18, 2006
I say go for it! This is a great opportunity to learn tons of stuff with someone elses money! Be voracious, dedicated and willing but most important do not forget anything you learn.
Joined May 1, 2006
I have been in this situation and without a good head chef (i wasn't commiting long term) you don't have a restaurant ,nor direction as to theme or service style, or type of food ,until you set those things in thought and motion, you cannot choose a menu , or purchase equipment because you will need a direction all the way from purveyor too mis en place too service to the table.

On another occasion I helped a friend in ireland open a new restaurant (OPM) great other peoples money isn't it at least for your first experience...we built from ground up........ well kitchen was on the second story in galway and it is a long and lenghty and every minute detail must be looked at and thought through at the same time it is a barrel of laughs a great time especally if you get on well with your partners and a huge learning experience that you can never learn unles you "just do it"....Nike wanna sponsor a chef? ...I am all ears.

Good luck and may God and the force be with you.
Joined May 8, 2006
Believe me you will have the time of your life. And you will be so confident when you get it open. I've done it several times and it's the only way to go.I have some things that may help you out as far as ideas and charts..As you know the health department and codes come first. So after that clean up then you can start with ABC don't jump around or it will stop you when your about ready to open...I have got a small business guideline that the SBA puts out. Would love to hear from you and help in anyway I can. Shelley

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