A good chef is nothing without a superb kitchen – but no chef wants to work in someone else’s restaurant forever. If you’re a culinary god, you want a restaurant of your own, giving you the opportunity to reap the rewards of great food with even greater profits.
But there’s one problem – you don’t know where to start. Opening your own restaurant is a daunting task, one which includes many pitfalls. And if you’ve ever watched Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, you won’t need reminding that when eating emporiums start to deteriorate, the associated fallout can also cause untold strife between staff, management, their families and the local community.
In simple terms, without adequate help and planning, your restaurant is likely to fall flatter than a poorly baked cake with a soggy bottom.
But fret not – we’ve put together this helpful guide to make the transition from chef to the business owner that little bit easier. Take a look and bear our tips in mind.
In terms of mindset, chefs have more in common with artists than businesspeople. They’re creatively skewed, and it makes them about as entrepreneurial as a serial slob with an IQ of 10.
Despite this, entrepreneurialism isn’t completely innate – intuition can help, but it’s largely a skill that can be taught. Almost every university holds some kind of business class, one which could give you the basic skill set you need to get started in this sector which is fraught with failure.
If you want to balance your job as a fulltime chef with part-time education, then distance learning is the path for you. Course providers such as Anglia Ruskin Distance Learning have a number of business qualifications that will give you a grounding in everything from financing your project to maintaining effective staff relations.
And the beauty of studying remotely is that you can carry on with your work and family commitments with as little disruption as possible – you’ll earn at work while you learn online, applying your newfound knowledge at work as you progress towards earning a formal qualification that stands you in good stead throughout your career.
It comes highly recommended for anyone who’s just starting or wants to sharpen their entrepreneurial acumen.
No restaurant has made its name by providing something for everyone – there lies the route of blandness and compromise. Instead, the most famous chefs in the world have found a specific way of working and stuck with it.
Before you even think about opening a restaurant, consider the kind of food you’d like to provide for your customers and the unique style in which you’d like to create it. As the old aphorism goes, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, so it’s far better to promote a limited offering with fresh, local ingredients cooked to perfection and presented in a pristine manner than to adopt a jack-of-all-trades approach and sell every cuisine under the sun while severely compromising quality.
Not all taste buds are alike, so don’t expect to please everyone when you create a set menu. But the people who love your nosh will keep coming back for more.
The success of a restaurant doesn’t rely on good food alone. Instead, you’ll need to focus on a nebulous word that means a thousand different things – ambience.
Ambience is an umbrella term that encompasses customer service, lighting, speed of service, and even the music chosen in your eatery. If one of these puzzle pieces is out of place, then you aren’t providing a complete package to the customers coming through your door.
So since ambience is greater than the sum of its parts, take your time to ensure that each essential component is completely on point.
For instance, your service staff is frontline brand representatives, so they should be friendly, respectful, cheerful and confident. If your overarching company culture and management training are robust, quality levels can even be maintained as you scale and franchise – the values and standards instilled at McDonald’s Hamburger University have cascaded throughout its global network.
And in terms of harmonious tunes, remember that research from experts like Soundtrack Your Brand indicates that carefully curated playlists containing brand-aligned songs can significantly enhance sales. It’s hardly haute cuisine, but you can witness this every time you sit down in a Nando’s restaurant – the upbeat but subtle African sounds blend beautifully with the comfy décor and spicy dishes.
To maintain a subtle and satisfying ambience that makes customers feel special long after they leave your premises, you’ll have to handpick front-of-house staff with the wisdom of King Solomon and consider the design of your restaurant with all the care of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.
That’s our list! What do you expect from a good restaurant? Let us know in the comments below!
Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia