Opening a restaurant is one of those things that people dream of to do at some point in their lives, and not really get around to it. Some people do, some people don’t, but no one ever wants to open a failed restaurant.
Tyson Cole, co-owner of two of the most popular Japanese restaurants, Uchi and Uchiko, in Austin, Texas gives us some tips on how to start a successful restaurant.
Make sure you never start without the big three
The three bigs – a great chef, a great location and a great concept are the three must-haves before you start your own restaurant. These three things work together. Your location should fit your concept. Your chef, or “talent,” must fit your concept, otherwise you’ll constantly deal with the most common word in the restaurant business: Drama.
Always overestimate your capital needs.
Your capital matters, and it’s mostly always going to be more than you imagined. Plan on having six to nine months of working capital from the start. It’s surprising how the expenditure keeps adding up, and how long it takes to get the regular customers come in.
Never let initial success go to your head. Success is only determined years later.
Learn to love teaching
Always bring in people from different places. Even if you don’t work in the kitchen anymore, it’s always rewarding to teach someone new. Doing something new is inspiring. Helping to shape the menu is inspiring. Everyone loves new dishes–the front of the house, the wait staff… once people love to come to work, you’re money.
Never be cheap when guests are concerned
The most important money you will spend is money that adds value to the guest. Determine a percentage of your revenue to put into improvements that affect the guest and constantly enhance their experience.
Guests love when a dish comes out and the server says, “The chef wanted you to try this,” because that creates a real connection and makes the experience personal.
Make sure you spend as much money as possible on the guest experience. Spend money on the people already in your restaurant, because that’s the best way to generate genuinely positive word of mouth.
Focus on organisation and system of operations
Failing to put systems in place is one of the biggest mistakes an independent restaurant owner makes. Organisation won’t kill your flow of creativity. Putting outstanding systems in place gives you the freedom to be creative.
Always be ready to evolve
The restaurant business is a fast-growing one, so you need to always be ready to evolve with the times. Always look for people who are smarter than you. As a business owner the smartest thing you can do is partner with people who know things you don’t—and then give them a reason to care.