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Will be looking for a lot of information

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
The reasons I have come to this site, is my wife and I are planning on opening a pizzeria in Gillette Wyoming. We both have grown up in Buffalo NY, where there is a pizzeria on nearly every street corner. Here in Gillette, however there is very little good food, especially in the pizza genera. For this reason we feel that making a good pizza should go over big. So we are going to take our love of cooking out of the kitchen and take it commercially.
A little background about the area we are planning on opening. The town is growing by leaps and bounds. We just recently crossed the 30,000 threshold. The reason is energy. There is a huge energy boom in this area. So much so that there for a long time, when we first got here, there was no housing. The hotels are full all week long and the only time you can really get a room is on the weekends when a lot of people go elsewhere for fun, entertainment, and good food. There are the chain pizza joints, and a couple of local chains, but nothing like what is available from where we grew up.
We have made the decision to bring a slice of Buffalo (New York style pizza) to this part of the world, and see if we can make a buck at it. I am going to do the business side, since I have a full time job that I love (the reason for us staying in this area) and my wife will run the day to day operations. I will help out in the evenings. We will also have employees, to throw into the mix. There is a pizza joint in and around the Buffalo area we are planning on patterning our corner of the restaurant world after, so it is not like we are starting from zero. Unfortunately neither of us has had previous restaurant experience. My wife plans to go back to Buffalo and work in a couple of pizzerias for a couple of months, with the intention of getting a crash course on how to do it. We feel that with a little intestinal fortitude and copious amounts of research, we might have a chance to make something here, not to mention finally be able to get a good slice of pizza.
We are currently writing the business plan and are trying to make different decisions on which way we should go on the mountainous amount of decisions we have to make. This is what led me to this site. I will have for sure a lot of questions to ask, and I thank everyone in advance for any advice I receive.
Our menu will consist of, pizza (of course) Buffalo style chicken wings, subs, and fish fry’s. To this end we are looking a lot at different equipment we will need. I think I have settled on Baker's Pride Super Deck Y-series Deck Oven with 4 doors using gas. We are looking for a fryer. I think I like the electric is the way to go, but this is an area we could use some advice to start.
This is it for now, and again thank you in advance for any advice we receive.
post #2 of 4
Hi BigKid and welcome to Chef Talk. I'm going to move your post to the Professional Chefs' forum so you can get maximum visibility for your questions. I know we have some members from Buffalo and vicinity who would have the same frame of reference as you do.

Good luck with your venture!
Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
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Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
post #3 of 4
In the interests of full disclosure: A lot more of my experience with the restaurant business actually comes from handling acrimonious partnership dissolutions as a lawyer than from time spent as a cook, chef or player of any sort. This lends some insight into the emotional and business ends of the business. But it does not extend to the quick-food, pizza niche -- which is probably unique.

So... Here are a few thoughts:

Given the outlook in the economy I'd think long and hard before starting a restaurant. Still, you seem to have found one of the few places in the U.S. that will prosper over the next couple of years -- and the part of the industry least susceptible to harm. Actually, your rosy outlook is probably well founded!

"Fish Fries" is correct. So is "Fish Frys," because it's regional and charming, and by dint of common usage. But "Fish Fry's" is just wrong. Get someone to proofread anything that will be read by the public or a prospective investor.

The conventional wisdom is the single reason responsible for failure of most restaurant start-ups is lack of capitalization. I don't know about "single reason," but it's up there. You want plenty of cash on hand in case your great idea has teething problems or just takes time to catch on. This is doubly true as we enter a period of very difficult credit.

The conventional cliche is that the three single reasons responsible for success are location, location and location. There's an underlying truth here, and that's research. You have to find out what the locals like and don't like, what neighborhood would be best, how you can differentiate yourself, competitive lease prices, cost of doing delivery, and so many other things. Spend a few days working up a list of things you think you ought to know -- then another few days shlepping it around to get some additions. Don't try and think of everything yourself.

Meanwhile see if you can hook up with a few locals -- including people on the periphery of the industry like reviewers. Your ideas sound good to me, but I don't live there -- and neither do you. Yet. So, ask what they'd like to see. What they don't see (spiedies, for instance). What the favorite pizza places are now (and eat at them yourself). Why they think they're the favorites. That sort of thing.

Figure out -- roughly -- what your monthly nut is. Figure out how many pies a day you have to sell to make your nut. Using your research -- is it realistic?

Equipment for start-ups? Buy used. Subtle distinctions in equipment seldom make the difference in success or failure, but make a difference in speed and comfort. Start with making a profit, before you spend money to make it convenient. Once you're successful you can sell the old and buy new -- if that's what you really want. And by that time you'll know what you really want. To the extent that you're using credit for start up costs -- tie the credit to the equipment. That way if you go under, they get the equipment and it's harder to go after your future earnings.

Perspective: This is as much about business as food. Your plan for how you're going to keep your books is more important than your plan for what brand and model of peel you're choosing.

Set up a business form such as a corporation, LLP, whatever. It's a grand or so up front that can save your economic life later. If you're starting with a partner make your partnership documents very complete and very specific. Incorporating is easy, you can DIY with a few forms. Unfortunately, understanding what you need to protect and what will remain unprotected; what benefits and what liabilities, what rights and responsibilities, etc., is not so simple. Don't do it yourself or have it done by a paralegal. Spend the dough on a local attorney. Attorneys like pizza. See if you can get her business. You'll need a local accountant, too. Ditto.

FWIW, this isn't the kind of attorney I was My practice wasn't transactional, i.e., put it together. It was "pick up the pieces." Plan for things not to work out, and you won't end up in court if they don't. And if they do ... well, you won't end up in court either.

Your attorney and accountant should be among your biggest local boosters. Their word of mouth can mean a lot of business.

Electric or gas for the friers? Depends on energy costs in your part of the world. Know enough about local utility rates and how equipment works before making a decision. It's all about Da Money. If you plan on doing a lot of fish, you might want more than one unit.

Qustion for you: Would a wood or coal fired pizza oven be a selling point? Or, too sophisticated for the market? Or, just more trouble than it's worth? Anyway, it's a big thing in the big city.

Best of luck,
post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

Wow boar_d_laze

would like to thank you for the response. I would like to go over your comment and make sure I have at least thought about every point you brought up.

I agree that the Gillette area will be insulated to some extent from the current recession that is looming. I work for a Co-op that is building a coal fired power plant and associated power lines, here in the area. So with coal and this power plant I feel that there will at least be stableness, maybe not growth but stableness. Our plant will have over 1000 people working at the peak of construction, and around 300 after construction. So I feel that starting something now will be hard in the face of rising prices but do able.

The proofing of the business plan is something I am going to have to do, and I very well know it. I have lost jobs in the past for that reason. For the post there is no need for extensive proofing, but for the plan there will be many eyes on it before a banker sees it. As one of my professors said when I was getting my paralegal Associates degree, he said Samuel Colt made men equal, as did Microsoft spell-check.

I had heard that undercapitalization is a problem, while I had thought of it in the past, I would like to thank you for reminding me. I put it on the list of things to remember when I put together my numbers.

As to location, location, location, the one place we are looking at as a primary location is a pizza joint that is owned by 7 people. They got together and I think realized the idea thought of in the bar one night is not such a good idea. The good thing about this location is that from day one of this building, it has been a pizza joint, owned by one person or another. This means people know that this is a location for pizza. I just have to convince the public that they want my brand of pizza.

I think I have to make it clear as to where I live. I live in Gillette Wyoming and the business will be set up in Gillette. We are only copying the restaurant in Buffalo NY. By the way I love spiedies sauce, and the Chevedias bbq sauce, I have it shipped to me to remind me of home.
The working on my monthly nut I am going to be getting the financial records of the pizza joint, so I should have excellent numbers as to what they are doing. This should give me a good place to start.

Again the thought on making the loan for the equipment was worth the price of admission in your post. The pizza joint that we are looking at has an oven, but not the style or size we need.

As to the lawyer and book keeper, I have a lawyer lined up already. He is a local that is highly respected, and works for the co-op that I am employed at. The book keeper is a person I am looking for this week. There is a company that works in the same office building I am in that I am going to talk to. I plan to open as a corporation, giving me the best tax liability coverage and the easiest to insure.

I think that I am leaning on the electric fryer, but I do have to dig into the rates, another thing you made me think about. As for the coal fired or wood fired this would just be to big a step for these people. They will have enough just getting good pizza for a change.

Again thank you for your response to my post.
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