"I wanted to fill my pockets with stones and walk into the ocean." That is how David Letterman summarized one of his family holiday gatherings. For a moment, I thought Letterman had opened a restaurant.
Letterman´s feelings fit many restaurant owners like a well-tailored suit. Yet, we long, linger, plot, figure, sketch, connive, maneuver, scheme and dream of launching the second, third or in some cases fourth location without hesitation assuming the dream will always be filled with problem solving solutions. Eventually we may realize that uncharted expansion is not always a sapient decision. However, expansion flows through the veins of most restaurateurs like a cure-all drug for ailments of the pocket book and the mind. It has long been said that the abundance of zinc in oysters raises a man´s testosterone and that spicy foods, hot peppers or curries raise the heart rate and help release endorphins that produce a natural high. So what is it with vacant buildings and for lease signs that attract restaurateurs as though fish hungry Pelicans flying over Richardson Bay? Nobody seems to have the answer.
With that in mind, let’s just just accept the plight. The apparent addiction is unbeatable and rather than battle, grappling with the demon, we should give in and go for it. Believe me, I have a few addictions of my own, and nothing beats the feeling of turning the key on a dilapidated space that encompassed another´s failure, teasing you to turn disaster into success by hoisting a big sign saying join me, I am here to beat the odds. One man´s stumble is another´s invitation to possible rocket ship stardom.
I say do it. Go for that second, third or fourth location. Just prepare a plan of action before signing a lease.
When visualizing your dream analyze the work needed to bring it into existence.
You also need to answer the most important question first.
Why are you expanding? Ego. The beginning of a rollout concept. Added profits. Better cash flow. A beautiful space that shouts your name when you drive by. More space for private parties and catering events. A place to keep the large, wooden, catering yacht. These are all reasonable reasons for expanding.
Other questions include:
Do you have the needed capitalization or are you going to use the profits from another restaurant to build the next one?
Is the location in a convenient proximity so managing the locations isn´t a problem?
Can you share staff in both locations?
Will another location make it easier for you to promote from within your organization?
Will the new location be beneficial to you and your team, or, will it be a burden on finances, management and other employees?
Is a change of concept in the plan or are you going to continue with one concept?
Are the locations close enough so word of mouth and other forms of advertising will effect both locations simultaneously?
This list can go on forever, prohibiting you from ever making the move to the hot, new culinary avenue in your neighborhood.
Whatever the answers to these questions — they´re between you and your advisors- in many cases they matter not. Some spaces and locations cannot be justified on paper and pad. Possessing the qualities of chocolate,
oysters, spicy food, tailored suits, frequently they call out in the night tantalizing senses. With a flash of foolish romance we take the plunge not knowing what lies ahead. That´s what its all about.
It´s the quality of the moment, the flair of the business, and the adventure, which captures the imagination, leaving each of us panting with want for another location.
It´s the year of the slow-down at the "For Lease" sign. If it says "Your Name Here", picture it, it could be an omen.
Get the stones out of your pocket. Take the plunge.
(Blogger’s Note: The pictured restaurant above is for lease. Pack your bags, go into your office, get two checks, one for the deposit, one for equipment and call Garett Carlson, Sole Proprietor, Westcliffe Feed Store at 310-858-7355. It could change your life.)