Author Archives: Lauren Beaudoin

  • People Involved in Opening a Restaurant

    So you have made the decision to open a restaurant, whether it be a privately owned or franchise restaurant, and you are ready to get the ball rolling in the construction process. Obviously the first step in any business plan is to figure out what kind of budget you have and how much of your money is going to go to each step of the construction. Knowing who to talk to in the beginning and who to keep in contact with throughout the years of your business will most certainly help to determine your future success.

    Know the Rules & Regulations

    No matter where you decide to build your restaurant, there will be zoning laws that affect the type of businesses that pop up around you and that affect your taxes. Not only do you want to choose a lot that is in a commercial zone, you also want to build your establishment near businesses that will bring more traffic to your area, such as movie theaters and malls. City officials and the zoning department will let you know if you chose an appropriate location, but you will also need to be checked out by the Environmental Protection Agency before starting construction. - Ask your city utilities department when you need to set up an account. Before the construction of your restaurant is finished you will need to start paying for gas, water, electricity, cable, trash, etc.

    Construction is Underway

    The first step you need to take is to meet with a consultant and a commercial kitchen designer. Depending on the kind of food you plan to serve and how big your operation will be, these two people can help you to figure how large your kitchen needs to be and what equipment is absolutely necessary. Next you need to find an architect and an engineer. Your architect will draw up the plans for your restaurant and the engineer will let you know if the building is according to code and ready to be put up. Your architect, interior designer and general contractor will work closely to make sure that your ideas come to life as accurately as possible. Your interior designer should have an extensive portfolio and if they know your general contractor or architect from a previous job you know you're in good hands.

    What comes next?

    It's time to start pouring the foundation and putting up the walls. You will have two different carpenters - framers and finish carpenters. The framers are responsible for putting up the body of your restaurant, while the finish carpenters work on all the final details. The only thing these two types of carpenters won't take care of are the insulation of the building and the roofing. Your electricians and technicians will make sure that all of your wires, electrical outlets, and lighting are done correctly. The interior of your restaurant will slowly come together as your painters, carpet layers, and interior designer add finishing touches. The last thing to take care of before final inspections are done is to have a landscaper take care of the outside décor and to hire a graphic artist to design all of your menus, business cards, gift cards, posters, to-go menus, gift certificates, and flyers. Once your final inspections are done, you are ready for business!

    EXTRA TIPS:

    - You must run your plans by the Department of Building and Safety, your County Health Department, and the Fire Marshall. - Did you know that Mission Restaurant Supply offers commercial kitchen design services? - Make sure that your interior designer has an extensive portfolio. Most of them have a contract that requires half of the money up front, so if you become unhappy with the job they are doing you could be out a lot of money. - Research, research, research. - Selecting glossy paints saves time when cleaning or repainting, and provides a nice glow in your dining room. - For cleaning purposes, try rugs instead of carpet. - Try zero scaping outside of your restaurant to cut back on allergens, bugs, and cost of upkeep. - ALWAYS ask for references.

    QUESTIONS TO ASK:

    - Interior designer & architect: Have you worked on restaurants before? What is your proposal on how to save money? Do you have a portfolio? - Food service consultant: What is the absolute necessary equipment? What equipment will make my kitchen run most efficiently? What equipment can I go without or buy later? - Equipment dealers: Do I have to pay shipping on large orders? What kind of warranties do you offer? What are the most trusted brands and why? - General contractor: Are all of your licenses up-to-date? Do you have your certificates of insurance? Have you worked on restaurants of this scale before? - Graphic artist: Do you have a portfolio? Do you have your own software? Do you do web design as well?

    MORE RESOURCES:

    - A restaurant construction checklist by Mosser Design: - Pre-opening checklist for foodservice operations by Food Service Resource: - Business licenses according to state and industry:
  • Preparing for a Restaurant Grand Opening

    If you are new to the restaurant business you probably have a lot of unanswered questions. No matter how ready you feel for the big day when you finally open your doors to the public you may not realize that you actually have a lot more work to do. You will be competing with huge franchises as well as small family-owned restaurants that have been around for years and have a strong reputation. There is nothing wrong with being too prepared. Here is a simple guide to being ready for your restaurant's grand opening.

    Make Sure That You Have Well-Practiced Chefs and Cooks

    Nothing is worse than having multiple individuals in your kitchen that have their own cooking styles and habits. The minute your chefs and line cooks step into your restaurant they should have a strong understanding that the food will be prepared to your liking and that everyone must prepare it the exact same way. Consistency with your food keeps people coming back because they expect to get the dish they loved the time before. If there are any flaws or changes, the patron will notice and most likely they won't return. Your cooks and chefs should be well-versed in the recipes, serving sizes, cooking styles, and flavors of the dishes on your menu, and should be tested until there is consistency across the board.

    Prep Your Servers, Bartenders, and Hosts

    Your hosts should have a general idea of what food you serve and certain menu items to suggest to guests, especially appetizers. Simply by mentioning that the patron would love a certain dish will most likely result in more sales. Your servers should not only be able to suggest dishes, they should know what their favorite items are, what all of the ingredients are (in case of food allergies), and be able to suggest a drink that would go great with the meal. Your bartenders need to take it one step further. They need to know a lot of information about your specialty drinks and wines. Knowledge of good wines means selling more expensive wines by the glass and bottle, which results in much higher revenue. Sales from the bar can be most lucrative. Lastly, make sure that all of your staff works together and helps each guest individually.

    Marketing is Key

    Not only do you need to know how to market your restaurant, but you also need to know where and who to market to. Most likely there is a magazine or newspaper in your town that features certain restaurants, especially if they are asked to come to your grand opening and be a special guest. Marketing for others will create allies and will greatly help your reputation just by word of mouth. Know what kind of crowd you want to market to and what part of town would be the best to reach out to (at least in the beginning).

    Plan a "Soft Opening"

    Soft openings are a great way to bring attention and new guests to your restaurant. The idea is to have a special event before you open your doors to the public for those individuals that helped your restaurant in some way or will be able to help your restaurant in the future. This includes wine reps, liquor reps, important figures or officials in your city, journalists, and family members of your employees. Family members will be the most likely to bring in more guests with them the next time they come and journalists will be grateful and willing to write you a wonderful review. This event also allows you to work out last minute kinks with your food or presentation (even though there really shouldn't be any at this point) and make your staff feel more comfortable about the big day.

    Plan Future Events

    Other than your soft opening, your grand opening is your first opportunity to market your restaurant even more. Planning events that will be taking place at your restaurant in the near future will prompt guests to make plans to return. Some ideas for this are hosting a wine dinner where your food is paired with some of your delicious wines, having a food tasting where guests can try small samples of certain items (drinks not included so you can make a profit), and offering to cater private events at a discounted rate to guests that plan to book their events before a certain date.

    EXTRA TIPS:

    - Make sure to have a take-home menu for guests, starting with your soft opening. They need to be able to study your menu before returning and it will allow them to work up a craving for something new. - Plan events that will make guests feel like it is free, but where you are making some kind of profit. Offer free food with a cash bar or a few free drinks with the purchase of a meal. - Have a food tasting with your entire staff so that describing the items is a breeze for them. - Introducing your head chef and managers to guests will make them feel important and they will want to become regulars at your establishment.

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