To say opening a restaurant for the first time is tough could be a prime contender for understatement of the year. From financing to inspections to hiring, there’s a whole gamut to consider—and a myriad of spots to misstep.
With that in mind, Restaurant Business spoke to restaurateurs and other industry leaders to hear their experiences and glean their advice for those ready to take a leap into an operation of their own.
1. Success lies in the small things
The myriad details involved can catch new restaurateurs off guard, says Rob Watson, director of the business incubator at Chicago’s hospitality-focused Kendall College, adding that while aspiring restaurateurs may have a great idea or recipe, building a restaurant from the ground up requires so much more.
A key element in operating a successful restaurant is taking the time to sort out everything from the restaurant’s brand to its required kitchen equipment long before opening day, Watson says.
As Kevin Boehm, cofounder and co-owner of Boka Restaurant Group, notes, the public’s opinion is now posted immediately. “The world is a little less forgiving these days,” he says. “Reviews come out on day one. When we first opened, there was no Yelp, there was no Open Table reviews.”