Breaking into the restaurant business

Have you ever felt the warm fuzzies when you watch Masterchef Australia? Or any show featuring Nigella Lawson or Gary Mehigan? Their knife skills, the flourish while they garnish and all the oohs and aahs when they taste the dish in the end. It just builds a mental picture of the most satisfying job on planet earth.

So what does it actually entail to run a restaurant? Breaking down some of the challenges faced by restaurateurs –

  • Capital – You have got to be loaded to start a restaurant business. The capital outlay required is massive and an entrepreneur has to strategise outlay on the space, interiors, outfitting the kitchen, staff, inventory, marketing and of course for unforeseen expenditures that tend to crop up. One must also remember it is the safest best to ensure that there is enough capital runway to run the restaurant for at least a year before you expect to make money on your investment.
  • Market casting – Now, before you go on a shopping spree for space, a quick study of market trends of what works and doesn’t would be prudent. The locality will give plenty of clues on who your patrons could be. Talking to competition on local law and regulation will help especially when you plan to serve alcohol.
  • Marketing your brand is also very essential and how pivotal social media is in helping do just that. From reaching out to new customers to creating awareness of what your restaurant is all about, social media is a brilliant platform to create engaging content that will serve you best when you showcase your best and reach your target audience.
  • Inventory – For a chef to create magic, the first priority is always the best ingredients. Fresh and the best always works. To ensure that your supplier gets you the best, most chefs recommend having a good rapport with the supplier being the most important. Understanding his process, paying him on time, maybe even a visit or two with him on his sourcing jaunts will ensure that you know where your produce is coming from and also give you an opportunity to get to know the supply chain of your business.
  • Staffing – The next draw of a good restaurant is a well trained and courteous staff. When your staff is well trained, their efficiency will get you brownie points from diners. Getting them good tips and you the laurels.
  • Guest and Inventory Management – Technology advancements have ensured there are many options in how you can manage inventory and guests. Software that automates many processes in a restaurant from table reservations to inventory management at your POS is flooding the market. Knowing what works for you and training staff in using these tools will give you the opportunity to digitize processes and therefore manage better.
  • Sustainability – With global warming staring us in the face, there are a lot of regulations in food practices that have become mandatory. Ensuring your restaurant follows these practices will help in managing the expectations of a community that is now very aware and also create a sense of responsibility within it. Setting an example of how food waste is segregated, the use of single-use plastics, old inventory management, places from where you source your meat, poultry and seafood, use of water and electricity etc.. will go a long way.

To give you an even closer peek into the mind of a restaurant owner, here is an excerpt from an interview with a young restaurateur, Ashwin Rajani who currently runs a successful pizzeria (Flames Pizza) in Yelahanka, Bangalore

 

Trepidation or fear? Is it easy taking the plunge into the restaurant business?

Restaurant Business is very lucrative and tempting. But not all can survive in this ever-changing market of the restaurant Industry. It has a low barrier of entry and very high risk. Anyone can sell food, but very few get to see the light of day.  

In a nutshell, the answer is “No”. It’s easier said than done.

Does being a chef become easy/help in running the restaurant business?

Being a chef by choice is more important than being a chef by profession.

Knowing your food is the very basic essence of your restaurant. Hence we categorise these type of entrepreneurs as “Foodpreneurs”

What were the challenges in the first few weeks of starting Flames Pizza?

The 1st few weeks or months are like feeding a baby. Your initial customers in the 1st few months will set the pace for the rest of the year. So bringing in footfalls in the single most important factor to consider.

The 2nd most important challenge to overcome is your core team, your leadership team which will set the tone for how the restaurant operates and delivers.

In all, like every other business, the restaurant business is definitely paved with many challenges. First, prepare and then conquer!

 

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