Tech entrepreneur, made a bunch of money, now want to pursue a passion

2
0
Joined Jul 27, 2020
hey everybody,

first off, wanted to acknowledge the really lucky and privileged position i'm in. I grew up lower middle class, both my parents in needletrade (mom made patterns, dad was a foreman in a clothing factory) but they managed to help me become an engineer, and then I was able to put myself through b-school and get an MBA. I started a few tech companies, last year sold my last one and made a whole bunch of money which puts me in a position where I'm lucky to be able to have time to do anything without having to worry about making a dime (especially because my wife, kids and I lead a very plain, non-lavish lifestyle).

My parents both immigrated to North America from Italy and I grew up in a family where food was all we lived and breathe. I make own salami, prosciutto, sopresatta, etc.... Do lots of preserves. Entertain often and spend a bunch of time creating and combining things.

I have a dream of opening up a small restaurant outside of town, maybe 4-5 tables in it and 2 services per night (max 20 covers per service?), open only on Friday and Saturday nights, where I cook farm-to-table style.

I'm not in any rush to start these plans, especially because of the pandemic and because I'm still working in the tech industry while I ride out the remainder of the time with the company that bought my last business.I realize there's *a lot* for me to learn if I want to achieve my dream (operating a commercial kitchen, health/safety, broadening my knowledge of cooking, etc...). I was wondering, in my situation is going to culinary school a good introduction to these and other concepts? Am I "taking a spot" away from someone who needs the education more than me? Will anyone take me seriously once I get there?

would love your thoughts!
 
719
264
Joined May 25, 2015
From what I'm hearing the only thing you have going for you is capital and you want to create a new hobby restaurant.

If I were you I would either invest in an existing restaurant or, if you are bent on starting your own, hire an experienced chef and give him or her the authority to handle the hiring of other employees, menu, etc.

Owning a restaurant is the quickest way I know of to burn through that cash if you don't know what you are doing.
 
2
0
Joined Jul 27, 2020
From what I'm hearing the only thing you have going for you is capital and you want to create a new hobby restaurant.
Not just capital, I was a dishwasher and then line cook (veg prep) from 15 until i graduated with my undergrad, so no stranger to being in a kitchen. But far from being a chef... (or sous chef).

If I were you I would either invest in an existing restaurant or, if you are bent on starting your own, hire an experienced chef and give him or her the authority to handle the hiring of other employees, menu, etc.

Owning a restaurant is the quickest way I know of to burn through that cash if you don't know what you are doing.
I actually expect to lose a little bit of money. I don't care about turning a profit, ideally I'd operate it as a hobby and stay close to break even (without paying myself). I even have land and a country home, would just build a structure closer to the road to serve as the restaurant.

At this stage in my life all I want from a "hobby restaurant" is to have a place I can create, share the creations with random people and hopefully make those people just a little bit happier than when they came in.

My original question is really around the culinary school experience given what I'm trying to do. Is it something valuable and would I be in a position to get something out of it and give something back?
 
628
229
Joined Sep 17, 2018
Not just capital, I was a dishwasher and then line cook (veg prep) from 15 until i graduated with my undergrad, so no stranger to being in a kitchen. But far from being a chef... (or sous chef).



I actually expect to lose a little bit of money. I don't care about turning a profit, ideally I'd operate it as a hobby and stay close to break even (without paying myself). I even have land and a country home, would just build a structure closer to the road to serve as the restaurant.

At this stage in my life all I want from a "hobby restaurant" is to have a place I can create, share the creations with random people and hopefully make those people just a little bit happier than when they came in.

My original question is really around the culinary school experience given what I'm trying to do. Is it something valuable and would I be in a position to get something out of it and give something back?
As with so many other people it comes down to culinary school versus experience in actual restaurants. Both are basically going to give you back what you are willing to put into it. Culinary school may give you a good basis of skills and cooking, even branching into the business side of things. Restaurants will give you a real world view of just how the industry actually is, and how to work in those conditions. Maybe do a hybrid of them, go find a restaurant willing to take on an apprentice because you aren't in it for the money. Make sure you want to do this, and then proceed to culinary school afterwards. As stated in numerous other threads, enjoying the home cook vibe and hosting is vastly different than working or owning a restaurant. And you will need to build your name and brand up to be able to make a small place like that work. You see places like that charging $500 a seat for this type of cooking and it's not something you can just pop up anywhere with no experience or cooking history behind your belt.
 
98
33
Joined Mar 8, 2015
Congrats on being in the financial position that you are. My personal belief is because I'm so blessed my calling is to bless others. I can relate to your wish to create a "hobby restaurant" that people leave a bit happier than when they arrived. You can also bless your staff by believing in their talents. Investing in people is a great legacy. I'm not in a position where I can to the degree you are but I'm getting there. As for the culinary school question, ask yourself why are you wanting to go? just so you can tell if your staff is doing it right? For bragging rights? For personal culinary skills development? Yes, you will be taking a spot from someone who needs it for employable skills. City/Trade colleges have culinary tracks that would be educational too. Just my thoughts cz I've been debating culinary school too just so I have the official title since I'm self taught. But leaning on the no time for it side for me.
 
65
10
Joined Dec 29, 2019
hey everybody,

first off, wanted to acknowledge the really lucky and privileged position i'm in. I grew up lower middle class, both my parents in needletrade (mom made patterns, dad was a foreman in a clothing factory) but they managed to help me become an engineer, and then I was able to put myself through b-school and get an MBA. I started a few tech companies, last year sold my last one and made a whole bunch of money which puts me in a position where I'm lucky to be able to have time to do anything without having to worry about making a dime (especially because my wife, kids and I lead a very plain, non-lavish lifestyle).

My parents both immigrated to North America from Italy and I grew up in a family where food was all we lived and breathe. I make own salami, prosciutto, sopresatta, etc.... Do lots of preserves. Entertain often and spend a bunch of time creating and combining things.

I have a dream of opening up a small restaurant outside of town, maybe 4-5 tables in it and 2 services per night (max 20 covers per service?), open only on Friday and Saturday nights, where I cook farm-to-table style.

I'm not in any rush to start these plans, especially because of the pandemic and because I'm still working in the tech industry while I ride out the remainder of the time with the company that bought my last business.I realize there's *a lot* for me to learn if I want to achieve my dream (operating a commercial kitchen, health/safety, broadening my knowledge of cooking, etc...). I was wondering, in my situation is going to culinary school a good introduction to these and other concept? Am I "taking a spot" away from someone who needs the education more than me? Will anyone take me seriously once I get there?

would love your thoughts!
You have an interesting story and a healthy realistic attitude but lacking real world running a restaurant type experience.
Culinary school will not give you skill, they sell knowledge and degrees, thats it.

Heres a couple of problems I see, or several...
you don't know what you don't know, how could you.
You cannot hire a skilled chef to work 2 nites a week and expect them to to sit around all week waiting for the weekend, they want a weeks wages.
Its not possible to make enough money to survive based on 2 nites with limited seats, you may feel you don't need to make money, the IRS will not allow you to operate at a loss, if you don't make a profit and pay taxes they will shut you down by declaring you a hobby.

Its often heard "just write it off on your taxes" always parroted by someone with zero experience in business. If you don't turn a profit, in the end the IRS will take away your tax ID , without that number the IRS will demand sales tax on all your purchases, they typically allow enough time to pass then call a locksmith to change your locks and post a tax notice on the door. They want all the sales tax you didn't pay plus penalty and interest, basically you are done. They sell the assets at extreme distress value.

I met a guy who sold his financial business for $100M and assumed he could open a great bakery cafe with no experience, 5 years and several million dollars less you was forced to sell because the IRS was going to shut him down. He didn't understand the business he went into.
He was not a stupid man, he made a mistake assuming business is business but didn't account for the difference between capital intensive vs labor intensive .

My experience with engineer types is they can encounter problems in kitchens if they are constantly trying to invent a better mousetrap. It becomes disruptive in a fast flowing kitchen if they don't accept the mouse is already in the trap. The ability to realize that is just experience and common sense.
An experienced chef would know that and throw you out of the kitchen should you be troublesome.
A young hotshot out of culinary school likely will not .

Its a decent suggestion to find a partner who knows how to make money and has a proven track record with a minimum 10 yrs experience, then you can focus on your cold cuts and stay out of the chefs hair for gods sake. :)
 
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