Having a dream is good thing, having a plan to that dream is even better. The first step that inspiring restaurant owners should make is to draw up a business plan of how they are going to achieve their goal. It’s not just a matter of knowing how to cook and owning your own uniform that is going to get you there. Although people might be impressed with your pleated toque, you need them to take you seriously and wearing a large hat isn’t going to do the job.
If you have a plan, then the next step is to have your ducks in a row and make sure you know what you are doing. You can’t just toss eggs in a pan without adding some oil or butter, and the same applies here. Take some time to work in the industry and learn how other restaurants run. Make notes while you are at about what you would do differently and identify areas for improvement.
Running a restaurant involves a variety of skills, not just how to make a soufflé. You need to have good communication skills, a good sense of customer relationships, a bit of knowledge on finances and business skills. Some of these things you need to have naturally, for example a good rapport with customers. Nobody can teach you how to be a nice person.
Most of the things you can learn through classes and experience. Take a short course on business and accounts. You don’t need to study a whole degree on account management, but just enough to know what is going on.
Starting a restaurant is going to take a fair amount of capital depending on what your dream is. There are restaurants that are up for sale you could possibly take over. The hard work and labour of building kitchens is already done. Before buying, research into why the restaurant had to sell in the first place, so you don’t have to do the same thing.
Another option is starting from scratch, which will take a bit more time. Restaurants will take at least a year to stabilise. You will need capital to keep you afloat during this time.
Once you have all these ingredients, it’s time to work forward on your plan. The first thing you need is a bowl to throw the ingredients in. In this case a bowl would be the actual restaurant itself. The quality of your ingredients is your staff. Your food is only as good as your chefs can make it. Although it would be great for you to create the food yourself, this is not practical all the time. You need to be out on the floor networking with the customers and making sure everything is running smoothly and everyone is happy.
Word of mouth is the best restaurant advertising tool, but you might want to advertise that the restaurant is open. Before inviting over critics to review the restaurant, give it time to mature. In the first few months there will be a couple of mistakes and procedures to iron out. Consider it like a roast resting for a few minutes before being carved. Once things are in place, then invite the critics over. This is crucial as reviews last and you want your place to be in top form before that happens.
Remember the little things. The presentation of your restaurant is just as important as the presentation of your food. The chefs and cooks should all be wearing proper uniforms. This includes the trousers, jacket and hat. Waitrons should be wearing black trousers, with a black shirt tucked in and a simple black belt. Unless you have a themed restaurant or want something a bit different, then they can wear that. This doesn’t apply to chefs though.
In the UK especially, chefs should look smart, neat and clean at all times. The chef’s jacket is designed so if they need to go through the front of house, they can unbutton the double-breasted jacket to covers any spills that might have occurred during the shift. The jacket and hat should be white. Traditionally the pants have a chequered pattern, but today black is also acceptable.
Small details also include the layout of tables, the spacing in between chairs and the table decorations. Everything should be neat, clean and easy flowing for waitrons with trays to pass through. The restaurant should be well lighted so customers don’t have to strain their eyes when reading menus or eating their food.
Once your place is up and running, you should have a well-presented meal with starters, mains and dessert. Starting a restaurant is not easy and there is a fair amount of training, experience and money that is going to have to go into it. But once you have mastered the recipe, you could even start a new one.