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"Let's Start a Restaurant"


Kibbee Nayee
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There are a lot of people on this board who run restaurants, and a lot more who eat at them, and a lot more who have educated opinions about things like this. A thought has been banging around in my addled brain, and before I just throw back another Maker's Mark and chalk it up to another hair-brained bad idea, I thought I would toss it out there for others to chew on (chew on....get it?) and see what develops....or not.

I live close to a BRAC location. Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) is what happens when the military wants to consolidate infrastructure and supposedly save money. A sizable BRAC project is going in the area between Rolling Road and Fullerton in Springfield, where a somewhat captive audience of 8500 people will be working by early next year. Aside from what will undoubtedly be a mediocre government cafeteria, there is, within a reasonable lunchtime distance, little more than Bozzelli Deli, Saratoga Pizzeria, Costco and precious little else. Farther up Backlick there are some possibilities like Delia's and El Sabor Boliviano, so that direction presents some options. But closer to the actual building, there is not much.

So the thought goes....snag up a nice piece of property and provide some good food. Either a sandwich place -- my role model is Buckhorn Grill in the SF Bay area, with succulent tri-tip on a sourdough bun for $7.99. Or maybe a chicken place -- like an outpost of El Pollo Rico. Or maybe a real NY deli....something that will be known for good food, and will draw 500 or so of those hungry people for lunch service and carry out, and about half of that for dinner service or carry out.

Anybody want to go in with me? Or am I, as I suspect, completely nuts?

http://buckhorngrill.com/

Buckhorn site attached for reference.

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There are a lot of people on this board who run restaurants, and a lot more who eat at them, and a lot more who have educated opinions about things like this. A thought has been banging around in my addled brain, and before I just throw back another Maker's Mark and chalk it up to another hair-brained bad idea, I thought I would toss it out there for others to chew on (chew on....get it?) and see what develops....or not.

I live close to a BRAC location. Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) is what happens when the military wants to consolidate infrastructure and supposedly save money. A sizable BRAC project is going in the area between Rolling Road and Fullerton in Springfield, where a somewhat captive audience of 8500 people will be working by early next year. Aside from what will undoubtedly be a mediocre government cafeteria, there is, within a reasonable lunchtime distance, little more than Bozzelli Deli, Saratoga Pizzeria, Costco and precious little else. Farther up Backlick there are some possibilities like Delia's and El Sabor Boliviano, so that direction presents some options. But closer to the actual building, there is not much.

So the thought goes....snag up a nice piece of property and provide some good food. Either a sandwich place -- my role model is Buckhorn Grill in the SF Bay area, with succulent tri-tip on a sourdough bun for $7.99. Or maybe a chicken place -- like an outpost of El Pollo Rico. Or maybe a real NY deli....something that will be known for good food, and will draw 500 or so of those hungry people for lunch service and carry out, and about half of that for dinner service or carry out.

Anybody want to go in with me? Or am I, as I suspect, completely nuts?

http://buckhorngrill.com/

Buckhorn site attached for reference.

No your not nuts.. Take a risk and see if it works.. think small then build.. Where you make the money is the rent or lease, if its to high you won't make it but if you get a deal snag it. We are all risk takers in this buisness but the people who fail are the people who don't do their home work. Go to your property and stay and count how many people walk by, look at the traffic, all of these things matters. My favorite lunch concept is Potbellys (as a buisness) low cost, short menu, low labor, luch meat and very small. The one thing I want is a gourmet Hot dogs place with different pickles..home made hotdogs..

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One thing to consider is your target audience. Are they going to want the type of food that's going to give you satisfaction to prepare and serve? It could be it's just a business idea, pure and simple. But I would suspect that most of us on this board who have thought about opening a restaurant want to do so at least in part because of the pleasure it would bring us beyond $. Who's moving onto the base? Where are they coming from, and what restaurants are thriving in that area?

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Also, you should ask yourself a few questions before you make an actual decision:

-Are you familiar with all the components and necessary preparation it takes to open and maintain a restaurant, no matter how casual or small?

-Are you willing to spend the time to familiarize yourself with all local/state/federal laws regarding the food and restaurant industry?

-Are you aware of the requisite people/agencies that you need to contact in order to get things started?

-Are you aware of what kind of licenses and certifications you might need in order to keep your establishment legally open?

-Do you know what it takes, not only to run a food establishment on a daily basis, but how to hire people to do jobs and what to look for in potential employees?

-If you plan on doing a lot of the work yourself, especially in the beginning before you establish any sort of reputation among locals, are you prepared to work 10+ hour days?

-Are you confident that, especially in this economy, you will be able to get the financial backing in order to even start your venture and sustain it for possible 6 months?

That really is just a sampling. If you are really serious, I would talk to a restauranteur/euse in detail (preferably one who has opened/manages a place similar to what you are thinking of) about what you would need to get started and then to maintain your business.

I think the restaurant industry, more than any other type of business that can be started on the "mom and pop" level, is seen with rose-colored glasses by a lot of people. I still cringe when people tell me that their dream is to open their own restaurant...what they are really dreaming of being the MANAGER of a restaurant in which they don't really have too much financial stake. And even then, it's harder and more complicated than most people think.

This isn't to discourage you, it's just a learning process (even for the seasoned pros) and most businesses fail because they don't know what to expect or how to plan for/deal with the variables that dare to pop up in their reality that weren't there in their dreams.

And some people are just lazy like me. :)

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