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May 23, 2011

How to Succeed in Opening a Restaurant

In these hard economic times it’s hard to imagine putting your life savings into a brand new business and simply hoping that it will succeed, especially when that business is a restaurant. The numbers aren’t encouraging either, as 60% of all new restaurants close within their first three years. These days, culinary students must learn not only the essential cooking skills they need to create a masterpiece, but also the necessary business skills needed to run and operate a restaurant. With hundreds of restaurants opening every year, how do you set your own apart? The answer definitely lies in finding a balance between great business and great food. You must have both to succeed in the restaurant industry, a fact that some restaurant owners may overlook. Some people believe that just because they have a lot of talent, they will have instant success. Others may not have the great culinary skills, but are masters at business, but it can’t be one or the other. It has to be both. If this means partnering with someone who has exceptional business skills, then do it. This person will know how to create a brand image for your restaurant and market it so that there is a demand for it. He or she will also help with the finances, which is not the most fun part, but absolutely the most essential part. Without money, there is no restaurant. Fortunately for students of Institute of Technology, our Culinary Arts Specialist +7 program goes into the business aspects of running a restaurant in depth. 

The restaurant industry is a service business. Yes, there’s the food, which is an important tangible, but the service is a very vital part of the restaurant. Customers will probably not return if they have to deal with crabby waiters, poor ambiance, or slow delivery. It is so important to listen to your customers and make the changes (reasonable changes, of course) that they want to see in your restaurant. Location is something else that you must strongly consider when deciding to open a restaurant. The location, of course, depends on the food that you’re serving. If you plan to open a high-end, chic restaurant, a location in a higher income neighborhood is ideal. If late night snacks and sandwiches is what you’re going for, maybe try going near a college campus, where students are more likely to be up late.

You culinary students are smart though, and you probably already know all of this from the business and culinary skills you’ve learned at IOT. I guess the most important thing, the element that tops it all, is that you must be passionate about what you do. It’s amazing how much someone can accomplish when he or she is passionate about it. I believe all of you future restaurant owners can be the 40% of restaurants that succeed with a little passion.

Some recent examples of IOT student owned and run restaurants include:

Harlem Wing and Waffle in Fresno, CA,

and Noah’s Mediterranean Restaurant also in Fresno.