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Opening a Restaurant Questions

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I’m a newbie who is interested in restaurant business. I thinking of opening my own restaurant, and if it is successful I’ll open a few more branches all over the country. Right now I have a few questions which I hope you guys can help.

1) If I own a restaurant which I’m putting other people in charge when I’m not around, how do I make sure that there is no ‘foul play’? How do I prevent some dishonest employees taking the restaurant’s money and putting into their own pocket? For example instead of putting the customer’s payment into the cashier machine, they may put the money into their own pocket?

2) Is there a simple way of keeping track of the money or profit earn everyday? Do we keep track of the amount of food supplies used in order to estimate the amount of profit earn at the end of the day?

Please help. Thanks.
post #2 of 27
This is going to come across harsh, but remember it is just an opinion.

My opinion is that if you do not know the answers to those questions, you don't have the experience to open a restaurant. Unless you have some money you are trying to launder.

Why? Because running/opening is SO much more than cooking, or some good recipes. It is first and formost a business, and not just the business classes you take in CC. I mean food cost, labor cost, yield cost, dishwasher breaks on a Sunday cost, bar tender is bringing her own bottles in cost. It is a case of having to spend a lot of money in the hopes of breaking even, and it rare when that happens. Even for top chefs.

Saying that, it is possible and profitable when done right and even a newbie can suceed, but in order to do so I would reccomend get some experience that will answer those questions for you, because honestly knowing them are more important than any concept or recipe you may have.

Sorry.
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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post #3 of 27
Also, there is no such thing as not being around. You need to be ready to work 16 hour days, 7 days a week, for five years or until it gets a permanent rythym.
post #4 of 27
I agree....if you are wondering how to keep track of paper revenue,
food, wine, liquor, then perhaps your getting in above your head.
Of course there are ways to track things. Go back to school....
Or work for someone else for a while.....Remember, its not if they will
steal, its when they are going to steal.....Whether its cooks, waiters,
or bartenders, there are a thousand ways to steal, even with proper
procedures and checks in place.
post #5 of 27
Most restaurants have all order slips numbered. Each server works off of their own book. Checking to see if the order receipts are in numerical order and accounted for is one way. Then you balance to the till.

Since this is a chef and cooking forum most discussion is about food. Try the restaurant owners forum at foodservice . com. Reading past posts you will see a lot of discussion regarding openings, managing and restaurant ownership.
post #6 of 27
I'm with Breton on this one.

From your questions and your tone, I get the impression that you are well meaning, woefully inexperienced and quite naive.

I can just see the glint in the eyes of your employees as they realize that it's open season on everything you own.

What is it that makes you qualified to be a restaurant owner, let alone a chain operator? (I don't mean this as an insult, but as a legitimate question.) Most new restaurants die in the first two years, taking their owners' fortunes, credit and hard work with them. NO ONE should consider opening a restaurant without a very solid idea of why that won't happen to them. Not wishful thinking, not an iron determination, but a solid, realistic, achievable business plan and set of skills that sets them apart from the already failed and the doomed.

For instance, do you think that you'll make it in the restaurant business because you have a killer recipe for your mother's apple pie? You want to build a restaurant around that? It can be done, but only with very strong financial backing, operations know-how and marketing skills. In that case, it would be best to find a partner with those skills and abilities, who shares your vision.

And, yeah, forget about having a life for the next five to seven years, minimum.

I know that these responses seem harsh, but we really are your friends - especially if your real friends are all saying "go for it."
post #7 of 27
As with the other posters, I'm suggesting to leave the dream of owning a restaurant and subsequent chain a dream until you work as a manager for a few places and establish a good track record.

In answer to your questions, there is a simple answer: You can't. If you develop a foolproof system for cashing out or inventories, someone will develop a better fool and find a way of beating the system. As long as there are employees there will always be theft. The only real deterrent for theft is constant villigence, good management, and little surprise inspections.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #8 of 27

opening a restaurant

if you want to open a restaurant you need to lay down til the feeling passes!..sorry, but i don't think you have a clue as to what it takes to open, manage and maintain a restaurant, let alone multiple ones..even your best employees know how to steal from you and the good ones are really good..you may never know it, or perhaps not for years..it may not be overt hand in the till stealing, but giving away drinks or food to get better tips, ordering food without tickets, then selling it and pocketing the money etc. there are as many ways to steal as there are restaurants in the world...you sound young, which is what you need to be, but you more than anything need to be realistic..and have a good, solid business plan and money to back it up. i would take the advice of the other posters here, as they in the end are the ones who know..they have lived it or are living it..go work for someone, someplace who's style you like and train, train, train!...take business classes,management classes and get cross trained in every position in the kitchen, bar and front of house..you need to know EVERYTHING! it is hard,physically unforgiving work, you will work every holiday, miss birthdays, weddings, funerals, parties. vacations will be a thing of the past..you just need to be aware of what this lifesytle is really about and the sacrifices that are involved... but, good luck!

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #9 of 27
about 2 year ago i was a cook for a place that switched ownership, the old owners didnt give a crap about the property and left it go to pieces in there last few months theres. the new owner came it and had to replace so much, if he was an everyday person off the street i have no doubt in my mind it would have failed by now. But he was a restaurant manager that came in from pittsburg. He lived in the apartment there, it was an inn besides just being a restaurant, he was responsible for cooking breakfast and such. He or his wife was there all the time, there was very few times when either were there those few time the chef was there to run the place. The point is if you dont think you can be there all i woundnt waste the money. like everyone else said its more than just good recipes and such.
post #10 of 27
You know, when I'm dreaming about a next venture or a first one, many questions pop into my head. It does not have anything to do with experience.
Your answer is there are tools to help you on the electronic side. Research POS systems. It might answer some of your questions.
Many great chef's don't have a clue about 60% of opening a business. These are good questions.
Pan
heck, this site is for asking questions.
Most negetive answers to a question like this is probably from those who want, those who tried and failed, yadda yadda. oh my! I'm so bad.
oh, stealing, an eye for and eye.
I took on a partner onetime, church buddie, nicest guy...well took me for 80K plus before I realized. If someone wants to take you they will.

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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post #11 of 27
I bet I can run a small restaurant without people stealing me blind.

The bar, OTOH, is a totally different story. There's very little you can do if a bartender decides he needs extra money.
post #12 of 27
Now I have proof that there is someone crazier than me out there. Good luck buddy.
It's Good To Be The King!
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It's Good To Be The King!
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post #13 of 27
Friends,
I just wanted to add that there is a large percentage of restauranteurs and food operation owners that have little to no food experience. It seems to be a quick learn once started but cooking experience is not a qualification to open a restaurant. As a whole, most cooks/chefs who dive into business without other types of experience usually crash and burn. I'm currently looking at three projects I might want to involve myself in as I move towards retirement. Vineyard, check cashing business, opening a professional guide service. I'm asking clueless questions of these guyus all the time
pan

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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post #14 of 27
Pan, you want to become a guide after you retire?

If you've got that kind of energy you may as well stay in the restaurant industry. Guiding is a lot of things, but relaxing is hardly one of them.

Or are you talking about becoming an outfitter, who merely manages the guides?
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #15 of 27
An outfitter. I don't have the energy to be guided right now:lol:

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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post #16 of 27
Watch your pennies! Make sure to keep DAILY inventory counts by preparing inventory lists that you get your "Manager(s)" to fill out each day. As well as the ring outs from your servers. Be sure to keep all of the orders that are brought into the kitchen ( if you are using any type of computer based server this will be alot easier) each night and get them to drop them in the safe as well as the ring outs. Keep the caps from the beer bottles to add up your inventory (additional help to varify counting) Above and beyond all of that be sure to hire people you can trust and if you can't find any, well then welcome to the restaurant business YOUR DOING IT!
Kitchens don't lose money by buying too many groceries/food supplies. It's not being able to utilize what you have once you've purchased it. Learn some inexpensive ways to create a profit . Maybe offer frozen foods for purchase as well, this is a great way to utilize left overs and create profit.
Best of luck with your restaurant.
post #17 of 27
I couldn't agree more with all this people
You are another one who is gonna be a loser soon
Just don't open it, it will be better for u
Shiny, Shiny... GO HOME!!!
(C. E. Oddie)
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Shiny, Shiny... GO HOME!!!
(C. E. Oddie)
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post #18 of 27
[QUOTE]First off you you really want to do it..DO IT! A lot of people have said not to do this, but understand why..it's a tough business. I never owned a returant but I do own a small business. Research Research Research! Start off small and cheap..do not get your self in debt. Do a small deli, coffee shop, Diner before trying to get in the bigtime

?

I've seen returants do a few things to insure success.

Hire somebody you can trust..a family memeber (I know this could be bad too)

Get software where each servers has to swipe and enter orders on the computer, this way you can monitor what has been sold versus how much product you use to try to curb theft and freebes to friends





I use Quickbooks software to minitor my buisness, you can take a class at a community college to learn how to use it. But you will need some kind of accounting software to keep track of everything.

Business is business no matter what you are doing. You could be in retail, resturant, service industry etc. You need to be well rounded in all aspects of business in order to have success.
post #19 of 27
[quote]First off you you really want to do it..DO IT! A lot of people have said not to do this, but understand why..it's a tough business. I never owned a returant but I do own a small business. Research Research Research! Start off small and cheap..do not get your self in debt. Do a small deli, coffee shop, Diner before trying to get in the bigtime

?

I've seen returants do a few things to insure success.

Hire somebody you can trust..a family memeber (I know this could be bad too)

Get software where each servers has to swipe and enter orders on the computer, this way you can monitor what has been sold versus how much product you use to try to curb theft and freebes to friends





I use Quickbooks software to minitor my buisness, you can take a class at a community college to learn how to use it. But you will need some kind of accounting software to keep track of everything.

Business is business no matter what you are doing. You could be in retail, resturant, service industry etc. You need to be well rounded in all aspects of business in order to have success.
post #20 of 27

So many variables but it can be done

It has been a very interesting post. I agree with the majority of the posts re experience but I started my first restaurant with little experience and I am now opening my second restaurant 5 years later.

In saying that I had a clear vision. A true deep down fear of failure and you know, to this day every morning I wake up scared of this business.

That fear has been instrumental the business' success.

As an owner I expo the line 4 nights a week to ensure quality and motivate chef and staff. Host 2 nights a week and I am always there next day 6 days a week at 9am sharp to balance the books and ensure we managed to bank our profit margin for the week. If we didn't I will work that day to find out why. Run home then back by 4pm to expo. This business is serious work so be ready. If you are not 100% commited then please don't waste your money.

I treat this business with the respect it deserves. It can spit you out and chew you up blindfold without giving any notice or thought. You have to wake up every day ready to make it better. Do you have that serious commitment?

In terms of stealing? Like I said you need to be there or have a great mgr but I truly believe that the owner has to be an integral part of every aspect of the business. If my bar drawer is short $5 I will call the bartenders at 9am the next day and if they have no explanation I expect the $5 by 5pm that day. I know some will say this may be harsh but holding your staff accountable is important. Not one of my crew has quit in 5 years. We have a great relationship but it is down to 100% honesty and staying consistent.

In regards to multiple locations?? Please forget that thought. I am not saying it can't be done but your first qtr in this business you will understand how difficult it is.

There are so many variables it is difficult to squelch them into this response. In saying that like many others, I have been there, so please don't hesitate to contact me with specific issues and I will offer any advice I can.

Good luck!!
post #21 of 27
A real smart guy once told the fastest way to make a million dollars in the restaurant business is to spend 2 million on a restaurant.:)
Fluctuat nec mergitur
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post #22 of 27
From my experience, you always need three times as much money up front as you think you will.
You really can't trust anyone with your money, and if you think you can do this within 40, or even 70 hours a week, you are mistaken.
Do NOT go into this venture undercapitalized. Do NOT trust your employees to look after your best interests.
From the very beginning, set standards, and set the example. Inspect, and hold your employees accountable. Treat everyone like a human being, be fair, but firm.
Other than that, you are going to have a ball. Best of luck.:roll:
post #23 of 27

opening a restaurant

How do we put this nicely, Are you ins.... no I can't say that, what i suggest is lock yourself in a room and watch every episode of Faulty Towers twice, watch Waiting three times (if you can stomach that much Ryan Renolds) then read Kitchen confidental, then maybe you might think about actually going to a local restaurant and working there for a while, preferably as a dishwasher (always ignored but see all) if all this sounds like too much work you could always give me the money, just leave it in a plain brown envelope behind the water tank in the third stall men's bathroom departures lounge at YVR... I will take good care of it... trust me
post #24 of 27
YVR? Where are you posting from?
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #25 of 27
Norht Vancouver
post #26 of 27
Norht Vancouver not Notrh Vancouver
post #27 of 27
Oh....Over the bridge is too far away to come over for a beer and say Hi.--Just kidding. Pm me your address and maybe we can get together some time
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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