What You Need to Know About Running a Successful Restaurant
The restaurant business is known for being challenging, but it can also be highly creative and rewarding. Bringing people together over well prepared food, having meaningful, enjoyable connections is what it is all about. A great restaurant experience involves planning, passion and attention to detail. Whether you are just starting up, expanding or just dreaming, here is what you need to know about running a successful restaurant.
Every restaurant experience should be special and memorable. Unfortunately, all too many restaurant experiences are memorable for the wrong reasons. Perhaps the soup was cold, the lighting harsh, the service slow, and the music too loud or the bathroom was dirty. When customers pay their hard-earned money at a restaurant, they expect the food, atmosphere, and service to be near perfection, and if they don’t get it, they will take to social media to vent their complaints. First impressions are everything. If a first visit to a restaurant is unfavourable, there won’t be a second chance.
Planning – Making a Dream a Reality
Before even considering opening a restaurant… dream a little. Imagine what the perfect restaurant would look like. Running a restaurant involves long hours, energy and a passion for customer service, so it is important to be excited and proud of your establishment and what it has to offer. Part of the process of turning the dream into a reality is asking some hard questions. What kind of food will you serve? Good food well prepared and presented is at the heart of what you do. Keep the menu focused and manageable to start. Customers can get turned off by complicated menus because they don’t know where to start. Don’t try to please everyone, but do have some vegetarian options.
Some other questions to consider:
- Demographics: Who is your clientele? What kind of demographic do you want to attract? Families with small children? Young and urban? A neighbourhood crowd?
- Locale: Where do you want your restaurant to be? What location suits the style of your restaurant?
- Vibe: What kind of atmosphere do you imagine?
- Individuality: What makes your restaurant different? If you are opening a Greek restaurant in a row of Greek restaurants, why should customers pick yours over the others?
Once you have a good idea of what your goals are, it’s time to get practical. An excellent resource for planning a new restaurant or catering business is offered through the Government of Canada’s Business Network website. Their start-up check-list offers solid information on planning, statistics, marketing, location and demographics, permits and more. If the practical side of business isn’t your thing, find someone who can help you make a business plan. Always start a new venture clear-eyed about the risks and costs.
Restaurant equipment can be one of the biggest expenses when starting up at new restaurant or cafe, but it is the most important investment you will need to make. Ovens, grills, smokers, griddles, steamers and fryers are the workhorses of any kitchen: you want them built to last and able to do the job efficiently and well. If buying outright is not an option, there are other avenues you can take. Renting or leasing can be an excellent choice.
What you need to know about running a successful restaurant is in the attention you pay to every detail, and thus making your dream a reality.