Those who are truly passionate about cooking tend to become chefs. Once chefs have conquered every challenge in the kitchen, they often turn their attention to opening a restaurant. Here’s everything you need to consider before taking the plunge.
Remember, It’s a Job
If you aren’t passionate about food, you won’t get very far as a chef. It’s fair to say that the kitchen environment is, at all but the most basic levels, a stressful environment. Professional chefs are able to thrive on this pressure and use it to provide them with the momentum they need to keep up with the many demands of a hectic kitchen environment. When you are running the restaurant, things can get even more stressful. Even the little things that you need to consider before opening a restaurant can be stressful, such as choosing which industrial freezers you can rely on to make sure that your business is successful.
As a chef, especially one who thinks they are ready to manage their own restaurant, you will no doubt have long since decided that your passion for cooking outweighs the stress of the job. This is one of the wonderful things about taking a passion and turning it into a profession – when you enjoy the work you do and feel passionately about it, it is much easier to put up with any drawbacks. However, it is important that you remain realistic about things, and honest with yourself. Running a restaurant is going to be difficult and, perhaps more difficult for many aspiring restaurateurs to adjust to, it is first and foremost a business.
A chef who wants to indulge their love of cooking but feels no inclination to take on the administrative and other responsibilities of running a business, might be better suited by working their way up the ranks of an existing restaurant. Enjoying the work will definitely help you to keep yourself motivated, but if the kind of skills required to run a business don’t come naturally to you, you will need to seriously consider how you will manage.
Can You Afford It?
Being an excellent chef is, unfortunately, no guarantee that you will be able to make money as a restaurateur. Before you embark upon any business venture, it is essential that you take stock of your current financial situation and make sure that you are fiscally stable enough to take on the risk of opening a restaurant. If you have never started or run a business before, there will be a learning curve to account for. If there is anyone close to you who you can reach out to, who can offer you advice and guidance, you should take full advantage of them.
In the short term, you will need access to the necessary funds to launch your restaurant. These will be spent on acquiring premises, ensuring they are up to scratch, hiring staff, and buying ingredients. The amount of equipment you need to buy will vary depending on your location. If you’re moving into a place that wasn’t a kitchen previously then you will need to buy ovens and other big pieces of equipment. However, if the facility has already been a restaurant then you’ll only need to buy smaller equipment like a Vitamix 5200 blender, pots and pans, etc. which won’t be as costly. Once you start thinking about all the costs involved in launching a restaurant, there are often many more than you might think initially. You will need to make sure that you can cover all of these, but you will also want to have some cushioning funds. These are rainy-day savings that will keep you afloat should something unexpected happen and prevent you from generating the necessary revenue.
For some aspiring entrepreneurs and restaurateurs, while some extra funds would be useful, they cannot justify taking on the weight of a business loan. In such cases, where all that is needed is a quick cash injection, it might be easier for the chef to secure a personal loan, and free up more of their own funds for the business. Guarantor loans, such as those offered by TrustTwo Loans who offer loans of up to $13,5oo are a great choice for those who don’t have the necessary credit score to secure their preferred loan type. By having a guarantor agree to make payments should you fail to, the risk to the lender is reduced.
You Might Not Gain Customers Straight Away
Opening a restaurant alone isn’t going to create business. As well as getting things ready in the kitchen, you will also need to make sure that you promote the launch of your restaurant properly. This is another cost to consider, although using a smart marketing strategy can greatly reduce the costs.
You also need to think about how you can gain loyal customers so you always have repeat business. There are steps you can take to start getting returning patrons. For example, 60% of guests are more loyal if there is restaurant wifi available for them so it might be worth spending a little more on good business wifi to get that loyalty. If people don’t come to your restaurant, it can be more than just embarrassing. It could ultimately threaten the livelihood of your business itself. Be prepared for this, do not plan on achieving success instantaneously.
The Family Factor
Cooking, and food in general, are things that we usually experience with our families. Most of us still have clear memories of the meals we ate with our families growing up, as well as the dishes we associate with particular periods in our lives. It might therefore seem natural to turn to your family as a source of potential hard workers.
We’ve all been to restaurants where the family feel behind-the-scenes enhances the experience. If you have planned this with family members from the beginning, that’s one thing. But you shouldn’t hire family members for the sake of it. Only hire them if they can add something to your business.
Opening a restaurant can be an incredible journey, but it will also be a difficult one. Make sure you know what you are letting yourself in for.