If you are something of a whizz in the kitchen and you love nothing more than rustling up your latest gastronomic creations for your friends and family to enjoy, you might be tempted to break free from the shackles of full time work to become your own foodie boss. Restaurants are opening up and down the country at a rapid pace, as people choose to follow a passion rather than making do with a regular yet unfulfilling nine to five. If you adore all sorts of cuisines, heading out to eateries regularly, and you keep on top of what food is in fashion and on trend, then you might be ready to take your first tentative steps on the road to foodie heaven.
Becoming a restaurateur is not all about the food, however much you wish it was. The finest eating establishments with the finest cuisine are not guaranteed success in the toughest of markets. You also need to ensure that you flex your business acumen, get your funding and finances in order, and know how to market your wares. Take a look at this simple guide to help you break the restaurant market with your very own eatery.
One of the most important aspects of a restaurant is the premises. You may assume that you require foot fall to lure in passing trade. Being in a prime city centre location is ideal, but also costly. You will need to weigh up the pros and cons of such an expense and conduct research to work out whether your monthly takings will cover your lease overheads as well as give you some profit. Alternatively, you could choose somewhere a little out of the way. This could give you an air of exclusivity and make you a drive-to destination. However, to make a success of this, you need a reputation to build on. As you are new to the foodie market, you might be better trying to secure your diners via foot fall and passing trade. Don’t opt for the most expensive location, but try to find a middle of the road premises.
Foot fall is important but so is your clientele. If you are trying to secure lunch hour traffic from young professionals, head to a location near office blocks. If you are focusing more on evening diners, go for a destination with lots of restaurants in the vicinity to draw in your prospective market.
Restaurants live or die by their reputation. You need to ensure that you foster positive reviews and feedback. TripAdvisor and Facebook are the go to sites for people looking at where to head for a date on the weekend. Make sure that your pricing is spot-on, focus on customer experience and make sure that your waiting staff are attentive but not overbearing, and of course, ensure that the food is exceptional.
With negative reviews, you can be sure that your eatery will be one of those that fails within the first twelve months of opening. Complaints will happen, it is how you deal with them that will make or break you. If the fish was undercooked or the soup was cold, offer to foot the bill for that dish and give a replacement or a free dessert. Don’t be stubborn or ignore any issues that arise.
The ambience of your restaurant is important to help give the right flavour to your cuisine. If you’ve ever popped into a famous Portuguese chicken restaurant chain, you will see bright colours, hear festival music and see a bustling atmosphere. The owners want to create an informal atmosphere where casual dining at a reasonable cost is the order of the day.
You could choose to have a more formal space with a separate bar and restaurant. Depending on the size of your premises, you could kit out your bar with some modern pub bar stools for pre-dinner drinks, followed by a classic silver service meal complete with wooden chairs, tablecloths, napkins and top class service. If this isn’t your bag, you could emulate one of your favourite eateries but give it a twist. How about a rustic dining setting, or a decor that emulates the region of the cuisine that you are serving.
Think about the menu that you want to create. Make sure you have honed your ideas and you have a style. Very few restaurants that take a scatter gun approach to cuisine do well because the diner is unsure what their menu is all about. Have you ever been to an eatery that serves pizza alongside a posh amuse bouche? No, because this is messy and unappealing.
Think about the sort of food you love to cook. Do you enjoy creating one pot homely meals? Or perhaps you are keen to give the food of your heritage a modern or fusion twist. Create your menu carefully and then take it to the masses via some market research. Focus groups are a great way to get impartial feedback from potential diners without having to worry about reviews. Ensure that the ingredients don’t cost too much by sourcing the most reasonable suppliers but don’t forfeit the quality. Mark up your food by the correct percentage to ensure enough return to cover overheads, bills, wages, and to secure a profit.
Running a restaurant isn’t easy. You could have the finest food in the country, yet if no one knows about it, then what’s the point. This is where you need to come into the twenty first century and get online. Utilise social media as an online marketing tool and post links to your website, show off pictures of your dishes to entice potential customers and show the restaurant full of diners enjoying their foodie experience. Be bold and explore the sorts of early bird discounts you can provide to get feet through the door. There are hungry people out there that need feeding – make sure that it is your restaurant that they head to.