Hey hey everyone, it’s about that time: time for me to put the finishing touches on another post about starting a restaurant, and – if you’re not interested in starting a fast food joint — time for you to go, Phew, at least we get something different next week! But hopefully this information has been (and is) a valuable resource to those of you thinking about dipping your foot into the deep end of the food service industry.
Get on with it, you’re probably thinking. Tell us what the last step is. Well, ok. Your last step, at least if you’re thinking about it in the rather spare, bulletpoint type of way I’ve been presenting the information, is this: Take Care of the Necessary Regulatory Steps & Run Your Restaurant Legally. Maybe that’s two steps, but oh well. What I mean to say is this: you can go into as detailed explanations of every single thing you need to do to start a business (hiring, training, purchasing, the list goes on and on), but as far as the basic starting points go, my tips end here, at the point where you have to get your proper licensing and regulation steps. These include registering your business name, getting a tax ID number, registering for state and local taxes, obtaining appropriate licenses and permits for your restaurant (this will, of course, vary), and taking the legal steps necessary to hire employees. Each of these things can be researched deeper at any number of online sources, and there are business and government agencies whose job it is to help you with this information and process. Doing your research (one of our early steps!) includes researching these sort of bureaucratic things. Know what you’re getting into!
Finally, even once you possess all your licenses, permits, and tax information, you must learn how to run a restaurant legally and to code, and maintain the strictest level of cleanliness, sanitation, preparation, and efficiency. The restaurant business will run you straight out if you’re not following regulations for food safety, handling, and various cleaning, storage, and equipment procedures — it doesn’t matter what licenses and permits you have; you still have to do the fundamentals correctly, or you could face financial and legal ramifications. Serious ones. Again, all of this should be covered during your researching stage, before you ever apply the knowledge inside of a working commercial kitchen or restaurant. Do you research! Go back and learn everything there is to know about proper food service operating! If you don’t, your business will undoubtedly be short-lived.
Anyway, I hope this information has been valuable. I love fast food. I’m going to eat some more of it on the road I’m sure, as I head from New York to Newark and back across the country to Chicago. If you take the right steps and make the right food, next year I could be eating yours.
I’ll be back next week. Until then, comment below or contact us here.
It’s May, the weather here in Chicago is (finally!) warm and Vanee is once again gearing up to invade the National Restaurant Show at McCormick Place this weekend. I fully anticipate that all of Wednesday’s headlines will read ”Vanee Rocks National Restaurant Show! Complete Pandemonium Ensues!” so consider this your advance notice before the face rockings officially commence!
Also, while I’m thinking about it: prepare to have your faces rocked.
To that (face-rocking) end, Vanee cordially invites you and yours to visit us at booth 7867. Vanee foodservice consultants will be on hand to dazzle and amaze you while also answering any burning questions you may have about canned entrées but were previously afraid to ask. And if somehow that isn’t enough, there will be chili.
So please please please justify the last few months of my life by stopping by and saying hi. And if you happen to see me, feel free to ask for a high five. I’ll be the dude with the beard.
We’ll see you at McCormick Place!
Today’s the second to last post in my series about opening your own fast food restaurant, and it’s time to talk about investment. If you’re starting small and have the means, you might need to seek investors at all in order to open your restaurant, but chances are you might. Perhaps all you’ll need to get going (if anything!) is a microloan, or one of the popular small business loans such as the SBA 7(a) and 504 Loan Programs.
However, many would-be restaurateurs can’t get the ball rolling without some additional investment; it’s nothing unusual — many food service operators start with business partners or benefactors of some kind. The good news is that you’ve made a business plan, at least if you’ve been following the steps I’ve laid out for you in previous posts, and now that business plan can serve as the basis for a loan proposal or investment plan. Anyone helping finance your restaurant — whether via loan or partnership of some kind — is going to want to see exactly what you have planned, how well prepared you are, and what steps you’re going to take toward success. They’ll want to know that you’ve thought of everything, including every last expense and efficiency-type issue. Otherwise why would they sink their funds and reputation into a risky venture?
The job of your business plan turned investment or loan proposal is to help convince potential investors that there isn’t much risk. Of course everyone knows the food service industry, especially opening a brand new restaurant, is a risky venture, but if you’ve researched, planned, and outlined properly, all your ducks should be in a row, so to speak. And seeing that this is the case will assuage many of the fears and doubts a potential investor might have. You want them to feel excited and somewhat safe about the investment, otherwise you can’t hardly expect them to make one.
One last tip: be honest and upfront! Be realistic about how much money you’ll need from them (and other investors), and just how much everything will cost. Find ways to save money (buying local produce, surplus or used equipment for your kitchen), but don’t over- or underestimate the cost of opening your restaurant. No one likes a business partner who crawls back halfway into opening and needs more money.
For the last post in this series, check back Friday. Until then, comment below or contact us here.
I’m on the road to New York this week, and chances are I’ll be eating a lot of fast food during my many hours of driving. If you’re reading this post, you’re either interested in starting a fast food business of your own, and have come back for more after the first three installments, or you’ve stumbled into the vast internet wilderness and ended up here, perhaps not of your own volition. Either way, you could make good money opening a burger joint along my driving route this week — and here’s step four in how to do it:
Maybe you think it sounds a little dumb, or way too obvious. After all, aren’t you already planning — reading this and doing the other steps I’ve outlined earlier, isn’t that planning? Well, sure. But once you’ve got the kernel of an idea going, you need to sit down and make a legitimate business plan. You can’t go in blind, or be ad-libbing. If you do, you’ll lose money and risk failing before you’ve even really started. Your doors might never open at all.
By outlining a specific plan, you’ll have to go through your strengths and weakness as you pave a path to opening your own business. You’ll be able to tailor your restaurant to it’s demographic, and highlight areas you may need help with or work on. You’ll be able to figure out just how much things cost, along with what it is that you’ll need. Really, this is just an added-on part of the research step; you’ve done your research — now you have to apply what you learned to the specifics of your situation.
Without a business plan, potential investors, clients, and customers are less likely to take you seriously, or help you at all. It is the keystone to this arduous, expensive, and risky process. You need one. Get on that.
For the next post in this series, check back next Wednesday. Until then, comment below or contact us here.
One mistake a lot of would-be restaurateurs make is expecting big things — and shooting for them immediately. You might imagine gleaming marble counters, extensive merchandising, a wide net of advertising, and even franchising across the country! Good for you, but it’s important to realize that being unrealistic right away will almost certainly spell your eventual financial doom.
You have to be willing to start small. A small sandwich shop, deli, or food stand can be a great way to dip your toes in to the fast food industry with minimal overhead and far less risk than some glamorous downtown location. If you have a brick and mortar store, it’s OK to focus on good, simple, tasty food without a lot of added pretension. If your place is clean, not entirely ugly, and has good food and great service, you have a fighting chance for success. And if, after the long (and inevitable) period of struggle at the beginning of your restaurant’s life, you start making good money — well, you can always expand then. Don’t completely forget your dreams of burger or pizza world domination; just understand that you have to pay your dues responsibly before you get there.
There is always the possibility of opening a franchise of an existing fast food restaurant, if you’re not quite ready to start something completely new. In fact, there are a lot of different possibilities for opening with low risk and starting small. You just have to do your research! (See part 2, duh!) The food service industry isn’t this horrible, dangerous place where it’s impossible to succeed — that’s a myth. What’s true is that a vast majority of the people who decide to enter the business aren’t prepared, don’t do their research, and have unrealistic goals or a general lack of business sense. Don’t let that be you!
For the next post in this series, check back next week. Until then, comment below or contact us here.
My apologies for being away on Monday. I’m back today, though, and ready to move on with my tips for starting your very own fast food restaurant. Fast food in our country is undergoing a great change; we’ve moved from the standard definitions of fast food — your McDonald’s burgers, your greasy pizza joint pizza — to the idea of fast, fresh food prepared quickly for you and with a variety of choices. As this change happens, there are many opportunities to enter this sector of the food service industry. Your ingenuity and creativity will be rewarded!
If you’re serious about opening your own place, regardless of what type of cuisine you’re planning to serve, the three steps are research, research, and research. Which, yes, is really one step. The food service business is plenty competitive, and the fast food sector is even more so. Without doing proper research and preparation, you’ll set yourself up for failure. You’ll want to network, making sure to talk to people who have done what you’re trying to do before and had success. Ask them what they’ve found successful, and also what they’d do differently. There are networking events for this purpose around the country, as well as online forums and message boards where you can contact people if you’re not in an area that offers face-to-face events. Don’t skip this step!
Once you know what works and what doesn’t, you’re ready to define your target market. In other words, to find your niche. Presumably you’ve already got something in mind — maybe you want to open a cupcake shop, or you want to revolutionize the world of personal pizzas. Whatever the case may be, you need to take your plan and your passion and apply it to the real world. Who are the customers you’re appealing to? How can you reach them? How can you better appeal to them? You can’t please everyone, and you shouldn’t try. You want to do what you do the best you can, and to market this fact to the right set of people to create a customer base.
Finally, you need to research locations. Having considering local demographics, you’ll also need to take a look at rental costs, building costs, and anything else that will be a part of your overhead. I’m not real estate expert, but it goes without saying that not every building is created equal, nor every location. You have to find the place that will best support your business goals from a financial and location perspective.
Wondering what your next step will be? Check back on Friday. Until then, comment below or contact us here.
You’ve probably noticed that my posts usually assume that you, the reader, are already working (in some capacity) in the food service or hospitality industry. Whether you own a restaurant, manage one, or are working for a hotel, a cafe, or anywhere else, I usually start under the assumption that you’re looking for tips on how to improve your business. But what about those of you out there wondering how to start?
Today, at least, I specifically talking about starting a fast food restaurant. Take-out and fast food subsets of the food service industry are booming, so even though there’s always some risk to jumping into food service, it’s about as safe a bet as you’re going to find. That said, would-be restaurateurs have to realize that the consumer perceptions of fast food and takeout options have changed radically in recent years; it’s no longer all about cheap hamburgers, pizza, and french fries (though there’s nothing wrong with those things, either!).
Today’s fast food consumer expects options. Rather than expecting cheap, moderate- to low-quality greasy fast food, customers expect quick service with greater range of choices, flavors, and in-restaurant ambiance. For the entrepreneur thinking about entering the food service business, this means there are nearly endless options. It also means there’s a lot of competition!
Next week, I’ll go into more detail about how to enter the fast food sector of the food service business. Today’s just an intro — we’re going to cover researching, building business plans, seeking investment, and taking care of the legal and bureaucratic side of starting a restaurant, among other things. Check back for advice and great tips on how to get started!
Until then, comment below or contact us here.