I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Brent Bowers of The New York Times last week with regards to Caitlin Adler and her Sweet Bites Café in
That is always the cost of a good education. And I have always felt that whether it be paid in the form of tuition – quarterly payments to those who possible know what to do in the moment of crisis- or to a landlord as you stumble, step, trip and fall- experience has its price.
The one thing that I did learn along the way is that an exit plan is highly important. It does need to be something other than “I will turn this concept into a chain and sell it for a lot of money.”
I have never spoken to any owner who didn’t believe his concept was the hottest and most profitable palate pleasing plan on the planet. The first step most of us take once concept takes on a life of openness is to dream, plan, and begin speaking of the “next location in a huge string of properties.” It is the chain mentality. We all pretend to just want one or two small well oiled operations making a fair profit while serving a great product. We want raves on our food and ambiance and stellar reviews of our service and staff. Yet, down deep inside our inner psyche we all have visions of what we assume to be the bigger picture.
Just think of that in realistic terms. One, two, three locations and then they begin to either crash and burn or sprout and grow. If the later happens then your life is spent checking on food costs, payroll, employee problems and continually looking for a larger key ring- not just for the locks on the outside, but the locks on the inside to control inventory, liquor theft and the minimal amount of cash you will have on hand as most chain frequenters love credit cards.
In speaking with a friend in the business the other evening he mentioned how difficult it was to stare someone in the face that frequently referred to himself as “the flagship store” of the yet-to-be-developed chain. It seems that the restaurant owner believes many of the press releases he is sending out informing the world that he is going to roll out the concept from
The likelihood of this happening is slim since his dream of mounting the top of the culinary stack looms in his vision his entire concept is crumbling in front of him.
For many, the avenue to success is the small cluster of restaurants in one city or neighboring spots. This allows for ease of management, consolidation of staff, and an ability to purchase in bulk and distribute easily.
Multi unit operation is not for everyone. But before you find that out give a cluster of culinary concepts some thought. Often you can benefit from the competition, especially if you own it.