Everyone has come across a restaurant that had the most delicious menu and yet didn’t make it past the first few years. In fact, restaurants are some of the businesses that can fail and disappear the quickest. Why so? It’s a question that most enthusiastic chefs need to ask themselves before launching their brand new culinary adventure.
Passion is not enough to take your restaurant off the ground. Talent and skills are essential too – you should never consider starting a restaurant if you haven’t mastered the basics in the kitchen. But what most chefs forget to take into account is that a restaurant is not just the accomplishment of their passion. It’s a business. And as with any other business, it should be run like one.
They don’t know how to manage costs
Everyone wants an exciting menu for their restaurant. However, it’s fair to say that a long and sophisticated menu is not the best approach to diversity. Indeed, the longer the menu is, the more expensive it will be to maintain. Restaurants need to buy and store a variety of ingredients — which may go to waste if they are not used; a common issue with a long menu. Consequently, without professional restaurant menu engineering solutions that take cost, seasonal fluctuations, and overall service into account, chefs are likely to drive their business into bankruptcy.
They don’t manage their expansion
When one restaurant is successful, the next step for many chefs is to expand. Franchising enables chefs to benefit from a large, national chain, instead of just one site. However, at the heart of it, franchising is about getting the concept right. Indeed, it’s the role of the restaurant manager to train franchisees and develop a mutually beneficial relationship. As a result, chefs need to build their business skills and leave the kitchen to maintain the franchise. Failure to do so can be dramatic.
They don’t understand their audience
Opening a fancy restaurant in the middle of nowhere is rarely a good idea. A restaurant needs to appeal to its local audience — and a more national and international audience for Michelin-starred sites. Consequently, for a chef, the first step is to research the local demographics to pick the best location. But the local demographics is not static. Singletons become couples. Couples become families. Some families feed back into the singleton pool. If you can’t appeal to a socially evolving audience, you’re losing.
They lack the right ambiance
Even when a chef has designed the perfect menu that balances costs and flavors, things can still go wrong. Customers go to restaurants for the experience, which includes more than the food on the plate. A loud dining room can affect the experience and convince them not to come back. A rude waiter affects the pleasure of the meal. Tables that are so close to each other that customers can hear every conversation are one of the biggest put off. In other words, what happens in the kitchen is only one element. Customers also expect the same quality from the service, the room design and the atmosphere.
Opening a restaurant is a challenging and exciting adventure. But it’s an adventure that is best suited to a business-focused chef. Someone who loves their food and their business will succeed more than a talented chef who can’t think outside of the kitchen.