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Four Signs You're Ready to Get Going in the Restaurant Business

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September 08, 2017 By Best Of Las Vegas

Being involved in the restaurant business can be a big thrill. For people who love cooking or those who love to enjoy a great bottle of wine on a springtime restaurant patio, the idea of owning a restaurant can feel like a dream. Most people aren't ready to own restaurants, though. They don't have the industry knowledge or management experience to run a business where costs are high, competitive is fierce, and margins are notoriously small. Are you ready? Here are four signs you might just make it in the restaurant business.

You have a full menu of battle-tested food ideas

The grandmother who makes a mean apple pie doesn't have a restaurant; she has a product. To thrive in the restaurant business, you need a full menu of options that have been confirmed as desirable. The menu doesn't have to be huge, of course. In Houston, a popular Mexican eatery named Irma's offers exactly six specials each day and nothing else. You just have to have a selection of things that can be repeated over time with relative consistency.

You have a concept that speaks to a known market need

What is your area missing? That's the first question you must ask before starting your restaurant. If your city's been missing authentic Greek cuisine at affordable prices, then that's a niche to be filled. What it doesn't need is yet another fast casual restaurant serving fried chicken fingers. Make sure you have a unique concept that can provide consumers with something they've been missing. How you identify these trends is the more difficult question. In most cases, the best ideas will come from people who spend time in their communities and in their own restaurant scenes. Listening and observing the tastes and conversations of diners can be a good first step.

You're willing to fire people if things aren't great

The biggest mistake people make before going into the restaurant business is not respecting the business side of what they're about to do. It won't be like cooking with your grandmother in advance of Christmas day. You may have to make some difficult decisions. If you catch the sous chef stealing inventory from the freezer, you may have to fire him. If you aren't prepared to make the most difficult decisions, you're setting your business up for disaster.

You have the funding to withstand a rocky start

While it's ideal to start your career as a restaurant owner with a bang, it doesn't usually work this way. In many cases, restaurant owners have to sink big money into infrastructure improvements. Some will lose money early because they can't quite figure out how much inventory to purchase. That can be sorted out over time, and your infrastructure investments will eventually slow down. Do you have the money to withstand a ferocious start? That's a question that must be answered in the affirmative before you sink your time, energy, and financial nest egg into a brand new neighborhood bistro.

Getting involved in the restaurant business can be rewarding. You'll make lifelong friends and help people build memories over the food that means so much to you. Running a restaurant is about much than the food, though. It's about creative ideas, filling a market need, and sometimes making difficult decisions. Take an honest accounting of your skills and expectations. Ask yourself whether you are willing to make the difficult choices required to be a real restaurant mogul. Don't risk your financial future until you know you're ready to roll out a restaurant that can run like a top.


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