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Should I start my own restaurant after culinary school?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I am currently going to culinary school.  A friend of mine, who is currently in school for performing arts had an idea for a business and wants me to join him.  The idea is for a dinner theater, with him running the theater and me running the restaurant.  I am unsure if I would be able to run a restaurant fresh out of school.  The business would be called the Ten Star Dinner Theater, with a slogan of "10 Star dining, and 10 star entertainment". 

post #2 of 15

A short answer would be no. 

 

School teaches you technique, and taste. It does not give you the qualifications to run a business. While you might be an excellent cook, the ins and outs of finding produce at a good price and managing staff require alot of different skills and knowledge. 

 

This isnt to say that people have come out of culinary school, opened up thier own places and always fail. I have a friend who runs a successful sandwich shop, that now has 2 franchises. People who have years of experience both in and running restaurants often say that opening a new restaurant is difficult. 

 

Hope this helps, 

H


Edited by HPross - 5/28/13 at 12:41pm
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Actually, I am going for a Bachelors Degree in Culinary Management.  So, I will be learning the business side of the industry as well as how to run a kitchen.  So, I think I may have the basic knowledge, but I am afraid I wonJt have enough hands on experience. 

post #4 of 15

If you have plenty of money and can afford to lose it,  then OK. Owning and running a place is a far cry from learning about it in any school.

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post #5 of 15

Acid test is your business plan, bank managers are hydrochloric acid....

 

Work in a few places first, you'll need and appreciate the experience.

...."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 #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daggdag View Post

I am currently going to culinary school.  A friend of mine, who is currently in school for performing arts had an idea for a business and wants me to join him.  The idea is for a dinner theater, with him running the theater and me running the restaurant.  I am unsure if I would be able to run a restaurant fresh out of school.  The business would be called the Ten Star Dinner Theater, with a slogan of "10 Star dining, and 10 star entertainment". 

Here are my honest opinions and probably would be the honest opinions of all chefs.

 

No you are not ready to handle a kitchen. Plain and simple, you do not have the experience, the confidence and the ability to delegate those under you. If you are unsure whether or not you can run a restaurant fresh out school, you probably can't

 

Unless you have so much money that makes Lebron James look poor and don't mind being pushed around by people you hire who will most likely be culinary graduates just like you, if not, cocky cooks who thinks that they are the best and you are lucky to have them but cant handle the stress when it comes to the rush.

 

I have friend of friends that were millionaires when they started their restaurant with no experience and ended up almost bankrupt.

 

And if you think you can create "10 star dining" fresh out of school, you are greatly mistaken. It takes decades of experience to master the culinary arts. and even experience is not enough. You need talent, dedication, and a humble mind because when chefs are telling you to do something a certain way and you tell them, "but in school they showed us to do it like this." I'm sorry but you just got a one way ticket to finding a new job.

 

When I graduated culinary school, I thought I knew something. After I started working in the industry, I realized I knew jack s**t.

post #7 of 15

I feel only a few people at a young age can handle managing a restaurant. 

The owner at the place i work at is 24 years old , he knows nothing absolutely nothing about food. The reason his business is booming is because we have a great cooking team that loves food  that and his head chef ( who is also my friend and mentor ) is an amazing chef who is saving his business. Im only 18 an have been messing around with food for about 3-4 years now and i have more culinary experience then my own boss. In my opinion a culinary school graduate has to eat a whole lot of humble pie and sweat , cry and bleed alot in a kitchen before even being considered worthy of running a kitchen. Those who depends on mommy and daddy , well go ahead and waste the cash , but you will need a whole lot of luck , and skill to have a decent joint. 

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by HPross View Post

A short answer would be no. 

 

School teaches you technique, and taste. It does not give you the qualifications to run a business. While you might be an excellent cook, the ins and outs of finding produce at a good price and managing staff require alot of different skills and knowledge. 

 

This isnt to say that people have come out of culinary school, opened up thier own places and always fail. I have a friend who runs a successful sandwich shop, that now has 2 franchises. People who have years of experience both in and running restaurants often say that opening a new restaurant is difficult. 

 

Hope this helps, 

H

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ED BUCHANAN View Post

If you have plenty of money and can afford to lose it,  then OK. Owning and running a place is a far cry from learning about it in any school.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post

Acid test is your business plan, bank managers are hydrochloric acid....

 

Work in a few places first, you'll need and appreciate the experience.

Yes, what HPross, ED BUCHANAN and foodpump said is correct - getting a bank to fund a food industry start up is next to impossible. You need a really good business plan, a really solid idea, a really high sell menu, and pocket change of at least 30% of the loan amount you are asking. (And with the average restaurant start up loan being $2million, that means you need to have $600,000 in cash laying around somewhere, before a bank will even look at your business plan.)
 
Take a business management/business start up class, one that requires you to do market research and write a business plan based on that research (most schools should have an entrepreneurial type class for chefs who are looking to start their own restaurant). Know that a full business plan (as required by a bank) is going to be at minimum 30 pages long and will more likely be in the range of 200 pages long. It will detail every step of your business for it’s first 3 years, including 1o or 20 pages of financial projection sheets detailing cost, profits, losses, etc that your research tells you, you can expect to see. It will include a detailed list of menu items, their ingredients, the demographic stats of your projected customers who buy that sort of food and proof that those sorts of people live in the area you plan to open your business. It will include a list of suppliers, those whom you will buy ingredients, packaging from, as well   and this will not be a random list of people you MIGHT be useing, it will be a list of people you have already contacted and made agreements with, and you will have their price quotes to give the bank as proof you have contacted them and they are ready and waiting to supply you as soon as the bank gives you a loan. Keep in mind also that the average start-up costs for the average restaurant business is going to be in the range of $2million. I have heard so many restaurant start up chefs who thought they could start up with $500,000 and then be stunned to learn that wouldn’t even cover the first year’s lease of the building. Remember the average cost to rent a restaurant space is $300 per square foot per month - even a small cafe is going to run you a minimum of $10,000 a month rent before gas, electric, water, etc. 
 
The cheapest type of restaurant you can start is a food truck and you can’t start one of them for under $300,000 --- $50,000 for the truck and supplies and $250,000 for the 10’x4’ stainless steel kitchen on board. Now multiply that cost by a full size stainless steel kitchen in a brick and mortar restaurant.
 
Read magazines like Forbes and Businessweek and you’ll see a trend fast: banks do not give start up loans to restaurants because they are the highest expense, highest risk, highest fail rate, of any business out there. Why? 78% of all food related businesses (not just restaurants) close down before they start their second year. 90% close before they reach their 3rd year. Only .001% will reach a 5th year. Most will not start turning a profit until after their 3rd to 5th year of operation, with most of those not breaking even until into their 2nd year. These are just national average standard statistics of food industry start-ups. The good news is, if you can make it the first 5 years and start turning a profit, after the 5 year mark your business stands to last and start making a large profit. Here’s the really bad news though: banks will rarely give loans for food businesses unless the business can show that they have been turning a profit constantly for 2 years. This means that you’ll be using your own money and money from your friends and family for the first 7 years of your business.
 
The good news is, that once your can show a bank your business has been turning a profit for a minimum of 2 years, you’ll be able to get several loans to expand and improve your business with.
 
And this is just touching the surface the money side of it. I haven't gone past the surface of the money issues you'll face and I haven’t even gotten started on the management side of things yet!
 
As for the theater aspect, has your friend researched the fail rate of theaters? Are what type of theater are you talking about - live or movie? Movie theaters are shutting down all over the country. I remember 20 years ago when every town had at least 1 theater. Heck I remember 30 years ago when most towns had a drive in. Today you have to drive 10 or 20 miles to get to your nearest local movie theater. This was caused by the fact that 10 years ago it cost $5 to see a movie, kids under 12 were free, adults over 50 were $3 and today it costs $15 per person regardless of age. Live theater is more or less dead outside of New York. If your friend is thinking live theater, ask him when the last time he saw a full house? Christmas week most theaters are lucky if they can get half the seats occupied and that’s their busiest week of the year. Most of the year theaters are performing to 10 or 12 people. I know because I’m often one of those 10 or 12 people in the audience. I love live theater. With tickets costing $20 to $30 per person, that doesn’t even pay the electric bill, let alone pay the actors who often find themselves acting “for the love of stage” (in other words without getting paid). 
 
Years ago, when I was a kid in my early 20s, I had tried to start a theater. Think it’s hard getting start up loans from a bank for a restaurant, try telling them you want to start a theater! Been there done that. Never did get my theater started. The idea still lurks around in the back of my head and I tell myself, I’ll start it one day when I have a few million in spare cash. Funny, it was going to have fine dining in it, similar to what you and your friend are planning. Banks laughed at the idea - literally. They thought it was the most hilarious joke they’d ever heard of. They did not take the idea seriously at all, which was quite upsetting but it did teach me early on that when it comes to dealing with bank you have to have a hard skin and an idea that does “scream hippy” at them. *sigh* “What kind of crazy hippy idea is this?” that’s what one banker said of my dining theater idea, way back when.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I think you guys have a great idea here and I’d love to see you pull it off and be successful at it, but you do need to know what you are up against and plan on trekking a long hard road to make this idea successful. It can be done, sure, but it’s going to require A LOT of money, think at least a million dollars, coming out of your own pockets, and a lot of personal determination.
 
Which brings me to another point: you don’t sound to me like you have the self determination to do this business. You are second guessing yourself (which is a good thing), you are looking at it and going “Woe, what a minute, this is big, this feels over my head, I’m just coming out of school, I don’t think I can do this.”  The fact that you are telling yourself these sorts of things, that right there ought to tell you that you are not ready for this.
 
There are 2 important things you said which indicate you are not ready for this:
 
“ I am unsure if I would be able to run a restaurant fresh out of school.”
 
and 
 
 “A friend of mine had an idea and wants me to join him”
 
It’s HIS idea. It’s HIS dream. It’s HIS goal. It’s why HE went to school. It’s what HE wants to do. 
 
What is YOUR idea?
 
 What is YOU dream? 
 
What is YOUR goal?
 
Why did YOU go to school?
 
What do YOU want to do?
 
 Never let anyone push you into doing something you are not ready for. Remember, no one who bullies you into doing something they want you to do for them, is a real friend. I’m not saying he is bullying you, but I am saying, watch out for anyone who tells you to push your own dreams aside in order to fulfil their dreams; watch out for anyone who makes plans for your life that benefit plans for their life. Watch out for anyone who tells you your goals are not good enough to survive without their goals. Never let anyone push you into doing something you are not ready for.
 
I repeat: Never let anyone push you into doing something you are not ready for. If you are unsure, then you are not ready.
 
Let me also add one more interesting tidbit here. Remember all those failed restaurants I mentioned? Want to hear another fact about them? Sole Proprietorships had the highest rate of reaching the 5th year (the .001%) while Partnerships had the highest rate of failing the 1st year (the 78%). Family Partnerships outlasted Friend Partnerships. Most Friend Partnerships end with a lawsuit of one partner suing the other, often because one partner wanted out (after feeling they were forced or bullied into becoming a partner to begin with), and the highest and fastest rate of business failures went to partners who had meet in college and had known each other fewer than 5 years prior to starting the business together. 
 
In interviews with failed businesses, one of the most common things you hear said is: “Well, it was his idea, he wanted me to be his partner, I didn’t really have my heart in the idea, I wanted to do something else with my life, but you know how it is, my dreams got put on the back burner while his dreams came first.”  I can’t help but think, based on your post, that this will be you in 5 years, because to me, it just doesn’t sound like you have the burning passion to wholeheartedly support your friend in his goals. I think you really need to do some soul searching here and figure out what it is you truly a deeply want to do with your life. If this is your dream than go for it, but if you are just along for the ride on someone elses dream, know that you’ll never be happy with it and sooner or later you’ll be asking to jump off and chase your own goals and dreams.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KaiqueKuisine View Post

I feel only a few people at a young age can handle managing a restaurant. 

The owner at the place i work at is 24 years old , he knows nothing absolutely nothing about food. The reason his business is booming is because we have a great cooking team that loves food  that and his head chef ( who is also my friend and mentor ) is an amazing chef who is saving his business. Im only 18 an have been messing around with food for about 3-4 years now and i have more culinary experience then my own boss. In my opinion a culinary school graduate has to eat a whole lot of humble pie and sweat , cry and bleed alot in a kitchen before even being considered worthy of running a kitchen. Those who depends on mommy and daddy , well go ahead and waste the cash , but you will need a whole lot of luck , and skill to have a decent joint. 

 

Do not assume that because the original poster is in school that they are a young age! I did not start culinary school until I was 38, and there were students there in their 40s and 50s.

 

But yes, what KaiqueKuisine and most of the other posters here are telling you is true: you really need to gain experiance working in a kitchen for a few years, before you can even think about running one. And than you need to run the kitchen for a few years before you can think about owning one. 

 

You could have all the money in the world to get your resturant started without a bank's help and still fail if you lack experiance. Experiance is key here.

post #9 of 15

Graduating from culinary school does not really make you qualified to run a business, but it certainly gives you an advantage, specially if you paid attention to your business courses. I would recommend that you refrain and get a few years of experience under your belt. I graduated from Culinary school 35 years ago, and even though I've owned 3 restaurants, I still don't feel like I know enough. New opportunities will always arise in the future.

post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timmy Wu View Post

Here are my honest opinions and probably would be the honest opinions of all chefs.

 

No you are not ready to handle a kitchen. Plain and simple, you do not have the experience, the confidence and the ability to delegate those under you. If you are unsure whether or not you can run a restaurant fresh out school, you probably can't

 

Unless you have so much money that makes Lebron James look poor and don't mind being pushed around by people you hire who will most likely be culinary graduates just like you, if not, cocky cooks who thinks that they are the best and you are lucky to have them but cant handle the stress when it comes to the rush.

 

I have friend of friends that were millionaires when they started their restaurant with no experience and ended up almost bankrupt.

 

And if you think you can create "10 star dining" fresh out of school, you are greatly mistaken. It takes decades of experience to master the culinary arts. and even experience is not enough. You need talent, dedication, and a humble mind because when chefs are telling you to do something a certain way and you tell them, "but in school they showed us to do it like this." I'm sorry but you just got a one way ticket to finding a new job.

 

When I graduated culinary school, I thought I knew something. After I started working in the industry, I realized I knew jack s**t.

Well spoken...but I'm a cocky chef and thrive with a rush...that's why it's called a rush.  But I'm a scorpio too and thrive under such circumstances.  I was working a line years before attending school and experience is truly the best teacher!

post #11 of 15

I'm thinking of doing the same. But first I'm going to work at a restraunt for a few years as I collect money to start up my own! thumb.gif But wahat I'm planning on doing is definitely making sure I have a business partner. For example, right now my boyfriend and I both have the same goal.. to own a buisness. So what I was thinking is that our businesses could be put together. I will make sure to always have plan B,plan C,and so on. I will make sure I never own a buisness on my own.

post #12 of 15

Prove you can run a restaurant with someone else's money before you run your own. The two most important skills to have as a restaurant owner have nothing to do with cooking or service, and they take not only skill/education, but experience to develop. They are marketing and bookkeeping. Good food and service are necessary (for the most part), but they are the easy part. If you don't know how to get people in the door, it doesn't matter how good the food is. Marketing is the single most important thing a restaurant owner does. Bookkeeping is just an annoying necessity to running a business. How you track and use information though can easily be the difference between success and failure. Other skills most chefs leave culinary school without are true leadership ability, which takes time and mentoring to develop, and knowledge of state and federal regulations, especially regarding labor. Working as a consultant, I've seen more owners and managers unknowingly break labor rules because they obtained their knowledge third hand. This can create a huge liability for a restaurant.

 

The time to learn to run a restaurant is before you have to risk your own money. Learn on someone else's dime, then take what you've learned and apply it.

 

By the way, the dinner theatre industry is a very tough one. Not many successful dinner theatres out there anymore. It's especially frustrating to be a chef in one because people aren't there for the food and the budget is tight. Also, food revenue is pretty low because you can't turn tables. This all presents a big challenge to the person charged with running the kitchen. They often get the blame when things go wrong.

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

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Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

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post #13 of 15

I majored in Hospitality Administration in college to teach about the business aspect of running a restaurant and went to culinary school after and I can honestly say that I was nowhere near ready to open a restaurant after graduating. School does not teach you the experience that you need to gain before running a restaurant. The kitchen in culinary schools and the kitchen in restaurants are two completely different worlds. The intensity, teamwork, dedication and concentration that you need to just work the line is something that you will only learn from working at a restaurant. Trust me, you want to work the line before leading it.

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daggdag View Post
 

I am currently going to culinary school.  A friend of mine, who is currently in school for performing arts had an idea for a business and wants me to join him.  The idea is for a dinner theater, with him running the theater and me running the restaurant.  I am unsure if I would be able to run a restaurant fresh out of school.  The business would be called the Ten Star Dinner Theater, with a slogan of "10 Star dining, and 10 star entertainment". 

 

Well, that's really a very good idea of opening your own restaurant along with the theater, by my dear running a restaurant involves a number of other factors along with the business and cooking aspects, including communication and people skills so you can provide better customer service and become a more effective supervisor, principles of sanitation, how to design an effective and appealing menu, how to clean and maintain equipment, regulations and laws that apply to restaurants, among other factors. You can learn about these topics by taking a management program, or take a course to fill in any gaps in your current knowledge and experience.

 

Opening a restaurant just after passing your culinary school is not a good idea. A culinary arts degree can definitely help you turn the dream of owning your own restaurant into a reality while avoiding common problems that cause restaurants to fail. Culinary schools offer several different degrees intended for students with different needs and goals, so be careful to choose the right degree for your specific situation. Cooking may be an art, but running a successful restaurant is a business. You should also need to understand how the hospitality industry works before you start your own restaurant. You must know other aspects as well, like accounting principles, controlling costs, math skills and management theory so you can feel confident in your ability to handle the business side of the restaurant. Gain some work experience as well in this field.

 

Wish you good luck for your future.

 

Source(s): http://bit.ly/17v39dV and http://abt.cm/idLJHy 

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post #15 of 15

I had been working in the industry for 20 years and had graduated culinary school 10 years prior to opening my own restaurant.  I was well prepared to run a restaurant. During those 20 years, I had been a dishwasher, pantry person, prep cook, busboy, waiter, assistant manager, manager, cook, sous chef, chef.

 

I was amazed to learn what I didn't know about owning a restaurant.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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