(Blogger’s Note: Readers Write appears each Monday in this space. If you would like your question addressed, sent it to: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Dear Blogger-I read with great interest last week´s letter from the person who wants to open a Beer Garden. What makes people think that they can begin a restaurant facility with no experience? I have been in the business for twelve years. I began as a waiter, became a manager, worked in a chain environment and eventually bought my own place. With all my experience, I am still attempting to figure out how to make a substantially increased profit, or at least more than the ice cream man, meandering through my neighborhood. If I am missing something, please share the secret.
Frustrated in Food.
I heard back from the Beer Garden Entrepreneur and it seems he clarified his goal- he only wants to promote the beer garden and fill it up, not necessarily run it on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, though, many people think that they can open a restaurant without any experience. It´s what glamorizes the industry. I don´t think there are any secrets aside from hard work, common sense, great business principles, an ability to make a quick decision, a little creativity, and an ability to lead people by example. If you possess these, you are almost qualified. All you then need is to familiarize yourself with this second tier of talent.
You will need to acquire a substantial amount of capital that you may never see again. You cannot have an ego. Don´t ever believe your own press releases. You must be able to handle the fact you are merely a servant in disguise. Aside from that, you must also be able to listen to people and help them solve their problems, especially if they work for you. Experience with children- from infancy, well into adult hood is also a prerequisite.
Since buying product for your restaurant is similar to purchasing commodities, except the purchased pig bellies are delivered to your back door and begin to perish immediately, any experience in the commodities field is also helpful.
Customer service knowledge and a degree in psychology goes a long way in the hospitality business. It builds a good foundation for the impulse needs of paying customers- some demanding, some not.
On top of this, if one can attend law school for a few years before becoming a restaurant owner this is also a positive move. It will save a tremendous amount of money when it comes to various lawsuits brought on by governmental agencies, landlords, employees, unions, and unpaid vendors.
Finally, a medical background in cuts, severs, sprains, and other muscular problems caused by heavy trays and bus tubs can save a lot of time, trips to the hospital, and continual increases in workmen´s compensation policies.
You see, there are no secrets. One just needs to be more rounded, than say, the head of Exxon.