Before you jump into the restaurant business feet first, remember the competition is fierce. And, the market place is filled, actually bursting, with talented restaurant owners and chefs all vying for the public’s dollar. Let’s not forget the fast food chain restaurants that dot corners and convenient locations across the country. Although you may not think they are your competition, anyone who sells food is your competition. Everyone is trying to capture allocated food dollars on a daily basis. And, Taco Bell does a pretty good job of it, selling items for less than a buck. That chain alone serves 35 million people a week, in there 6500 locations. That’s called turning your tables.
Currently, there are more than 800,000 restaurants in operation in the United States. That number will top 1,000,000 by the end of 2008. The industry now employs over 13 million people. And, of course, many of those employees dream of owning a restaurant.
You know you have thought about opening one. Or worse yet, another one. Remember, typical restaurateurs are gluttons for punishment seeking enjoyable misery.
Today, the complexities facing restaurateurs are more difficult than ever before, making it tougher to survive in the crowded conglomerate of culinary concepts. The talent is more abundant, the competition more fierce, and the industry more crowded than it was just a decade ago. Watching the food network for an hour, learning the difference between mirepoix and Mirabeau, has casually educated the public in the art of food and beverage.
Nothing compares, however, to owning a successful restaurant. It´s the closest a commoner can come to reaching Hollywood stardom without struggling for years in order to see their name in lights.
With a bit of dough, a large amount of creativity, and a whim of foolishness, a restaurant owner can see their name in lights as soon as the sign man gets his check. After that, all that´s needed are happy customers, a packed reservation book, an honest staff, a talented chef, a decent health inpsector and a bartender who likes the owner more than the flirtatious, young, blushing woman at the end of the bar.
In order to become a star, you must have the qualities of stardom. A restaurateur must possess the financial wherewithal of a producer, the vision of a director, the imagination of an actor, the skills of a stagehand, the eye of a cameraman, the perfection of a makeup artist, and the talent possessed by each.
Only gambling visionaries need apply. Restaurateurs are in constant search of recognition that someone will notice that their sauces are smooth, their meats tender, their pasta perfectly prepared, and their desserts so delectable that the dining guide doles out four stars. These ingredients for success must be wrapped in an atmosphere that is unique, romantic, and trend setting.
And, of course, nothing beats a large injection of luck, unless it is a larger injection of cash. In order to achieve success, both ingredients are equally inmportant for continual culinary survival.
But the one thing that is more important, at least in the beginning of your trek, than any other element in the equation is your ability to realize restaurant ownership is not a career, its a lifestyle. And, that is not to say that you go there daily and eat, drink and party with the customers. A restauranteur’s lifestyle revolves around the restaurant’s operation and that is what sets it appart from the other 800,000 restaurants in the country today.
If you are not ready to work 15 hours a day, seven days each week, without any time off other than a few hours here and there, usually spent eating in a friend’s restaurant, then go to the nearest University and apply for law school.
Tomorrow: Finding the right location.