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Help w/my career? (restaurant) ... long

Discussion in 'Other Off Topic Forum' started by twinturbo, Jan 2, 2004.

  1. twinturbo

    twinturbo Karting

    Nov 10, 2003
    156
    Hi all ...

    I read these forums everyday and try to contribute as much as I can ... I've noticed that there are all types of people in this community that are well diversed in all areas of the spectrum that might be able to put in their two cents for my fork in the road ...

    First off I know that there are many people on this board who work really really hard for there money and despise the fortunate few who's parents did it for them ... I am one of those fortunate few who don't have to battle with finances therefore I am left with the luxury that many don't have, OPTIONS. I write this to avoid the bitterness that comes with wanting others to work hard for there money ... I do work very hard but I'm just able to work hard with a safety net ...

    I'm about to graduate and my dad finally had a sit down with me about what I want to do with my life? I don't want to continue with his business ... we tossed around some ideas, everything from starting a factory, building a hotel, and starting a restaurant ... I've read many times before on this board that you should do something you enjoy ... the idea of catering and interacting with people in a fun filled atmosphere has me leaning towards doing a steak house/lounge?

    As of right now I'm spending my summer at his steel factory in Dubai to see if I enjoy manufacturing ... maybe I'll love it and do that but maybe not?

    My question is for my dream? ... I was poking around with the idea of opening a very high class steak house that has a lounge/nightclub that is accessed from it ... the steak house would ONLY serve filet mignon? ... however, one could choose from a variety (maybe 6-8) different styles of filet ... couple examples: Classic American, just your kick ass big texas filet cooked to your liking; Asian, thin cuts of filet served on rice bowl or something; Persian, filet skewers with rice and appropriate seasonings; Greek, filet sliced served on a pita like a gyro ... you get the idea, so you choose the style instead of the meat? I also thought about having the restaurant have 6-8 different rooms that are decorated in each style of filet that we serve and every room somehow ties in together for the overall theme of the restaurant ... on top of all this I want to have a very chic membership only lounge that can be accessed through the restaurant ... only diners and members can enter and if you're neither a purchase of a bottle with get you in ... the key to my concept is it's coziness and exclusivity? The success to my concept would be SERVICE ... I want to give ridiculous service, I am the most anal person when it comes to service and want to give out what I would expect ...

    Is there anyone out there in this business? I threw the idea by my dad and he likes it but wasn't too thrilled? One thing he said is that it would be too difficult to keep all that meat for each style fresh? I was assuming that we would use the same meat for everything but just prepare, season, and serve it differently? Is there a life span on filet? Then he mentioned that the "mad cow" situation would have killed my business? I'm under the impression that every venture has risk? I was told by someone that most restaurant's don't make ANY profit on their food but mostly on alcohol? is this true?

    My basic question is to anyone who is in the restaurant business ... IS MY IDEA CRAZY?

    Thank you,
    D
     
  2. PeterS

    PeterS Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Jan 24, 2003
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    Unless you have A LOT OF MONEY, I would stay away from the food industry! My girlfriend is a caterer (Large scale, about $1.0M / Yr). The food business sucks! Here's some reasons:

    1) You have idiots working for you that will look for ways to sue you and help drain workers comp.

    2) You will work insane hours.

    3) Insurance, taxes and workers comp payments will eat you alive.

    4) You will have idiots working for you.

    5) The menu prices can not vary with monthly cost increases such as power, maintenance expenses, etc.

    6) Your competitors have done it before. You have not.

    7) Everybody that works for you and sells to you will make more money than you will.

    8) You will have idiots working for you.

    Learn a trade in which you can make $20-$40/Hr. You will be farther ahead without the grief!
     
  3. twinturbo

    twinturbo Karting

    Nov 10, 2003
    156

    I don't see how building a four to five million dollar restaurant won't make me more than $40 an hour?? I don't know what kind of restaurants are in Cali but over here the better ones are selling over $200,000 a month just in liquor sales, deduct 30% cost & 14% taxes and you've got over $100,000 in profit a month X 12 = 1.2 million a year ... that's without the lounge/bar sales??

    #2 if I enjoy the work there shouldn't be a problem w/the hours

    #3 don't most business owner's have these expenses, including my
    competition

    #5 that is a good point

    #6 i was hoping that my idea was uniqe, have you seen it before?

    #7 what? my employees will make more money than me, the owner?
     
  4. PeterS

    PeterS Three Time F1 World Champ
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    #2 if I enjoy the work there shouldn't be a problem w/the hours

    OK....Frustration in the food business will give you plenty of grey hairs!

    #3 don't most business owner's have these expenses, including my
    competition

    Yes they do. The difference is the fact that seasoned restauranture's know the tricks to manage their money. You will have to talk to a few owners on this topic.

    #5 that is a good point

    #6 i was hoping that my idea was uniqe, have you seen it before?

    No I have not. You can marque the fact that the restaurant specializes in Filet's, but you have to have other items on the menu.

    #7 what? my employees will make more money than me, the owner?

    If you do well, plan on being VERY poor for a few years. You will be putting every dime into yor business while you fund everything.

    The best thing to do is to meet with several restaurant owners in your area. Get their spin on life under the Ansel. Ask them point blank questions on the dollars it takes to start it all up and to keep it going. The best time to see owners is in the early AM. Call and ask for appointments. Most owners should be pleased to make the time for you. If you want to move forward, I would contact your local SCORE office and see if their may be a retired person that has this experiance. They can assist in your drafting of a business plan.

    Here's one story:

    My girlfriend had a lawsuit by an employee in which the employee stated she slipped in the fridge walk-in (on water). There was never EVER any water on that floor, but nobody was around to see it at the time. The employee sued for Willful Neglect, which is BAD! the employee (Which in my opinion is a MOTH#$^&( FU%$^%* piece of dog SH^! ) settled out of court for about $60K and gets gov bennies the rest of her life with her 'back injuries'. My girlfriend spent about $20K of money she did not have to fight this one and also got her w.comp fees raised about 20%.

    I gripe about employees being idiots. If you are in a large community, you can get a decent working pool of good people that are going to college. If you are in a smaller town, people (employees) get in to food service because they do not have general skills that can get them a better paying job.

    Sorry, I'm just very tainted on the food business!
     
  5. Tyler

    Tyler F1 Rookie

    Dec 19, 2001
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    PeterS has good advice.

    I owned restaurants for years and I would never go back to that business. ANY business is cut-throat, don't let that scare you, but don't go into this blind either. If I were in your shoes I would work in the industry and see if the idea seems as palatable a year later.

    Another option is to find a professional chef and PROVEN operator who has the passion and desire, but not the finances. It's better to partner with someone who knows what they are doing if you do not.

    I seriously would suggest working in the industry first. It's always better to learn the ropes and make mistakes on someone else's dime.

    FYI, the hours involved do get insane. You will find yourself at the establishment open to close every day because you cannot hire anyone who will care as much as you.
     
  6. PeterS

    PeterS Three Time F1 World Champ
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    FYI, the hours involved do get insane. You will find yourself at the establishment open to close every day because you cannot hire anyone who will care as much as you.[/QUOTE]

    AMEN to that comment!
     
  7. lesterm

    lesterm Formula Junior

    Nov 3, 2003
    608
    Durham, NC
    A lot of people in my family started out in the restaurant/catering business. The general consensus is that they HATED it. You might think the hours are not a problem; however, when you are working 12pm - 3am constantly for a few years, you might change your mind. All these people in my family have now branched out into other industries and are much happier. If you have the choice, I'd say go for something else besides the food industry.
     
  8. Dave

    Dave F1 Rookie

    Apr 15, 2001
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    David Jones
    "I'm about to graduate" ... Would this be college?
    And if so, what was your degree in?

    My thoughts...
    I put myself through college for a while by managing restaurants early on, and have kept up with the industry as a hobby for some time...
    To blindly start a restaurant, or any business without first doing the proper research would be very foolish, and I'm sure your Father would agree.
    Ask yourself a few questions...
    What does everyone need?
    Food does come to mind, so a restaurant might not be a bad business as you state.
    So if everyone needs to eat, but I only offer Beef on the menu
    then I have just cut my customer list from everyone,
    to Beef eaters only.
    And by only offering 1 cut of beef, prepared in different fashions,
    I have just cut my customer list even further, to only include people that are in the mood for filet mignon.
    ...by the way, you do realize that there are more flavorful cuts of beef than filet mignon...
    And then you limit the amount of money you make
    by having a membership only lounge, instead of taking everybody's money.
    And to top it all off you want to offer "ridiculous service"...
    One of the biggest problems with restaurants is having a wait staff that offers too little attention, or at the other end, offers too much attention, when I'm having a nice meal, i don't want some jack leg hovering over my ass.
    The Attention has to be perfect, not ridiculous.
    If it were me, in business to make money.
    I would consider taking money from everyone, much more profitable, than limiting my income to filet eaters with a membership card on a given night.
    But the biggest question you should ask yourself about starting a restaurant should be.... Am I prepared to own a restaurant?
    And by asking this question earlier...
    "Is there a life span on filet?"
    I would say no! You are not ready to own a restaurant.
    I'm sure that your Father has become a successful businessman by knowing all aspects of his operations, and by hiring competent personal to fill these positions.
    If it were me, I would ask my Father for advice.
    Sit down with him, put together a plan of attack.
    Do a little research, get a little more training.
    I'm sure that with the guidance of a successful businessman like your Father, You will have the same success if you follow his example.
     
  9. wax

    wax Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Jul 20, 2003
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    Dirty Harry
    Tough racket. These guys validate/verify the point that if you do as I did & talk to restaurant owners, they'll say the same. Need to move a lot of product & be there all the time - restaurant management skills are a must. You make your money from the masses, not the few. You can have Filet Mignon as the only cut of solid beef if you go to Persian or Armenian restaurants. I miss Shamshiri in Los Feliz - closed shop & is now an Italian joint. Won't go there, though - I'm a Palermo's devotee, as are a lot of other people.
     
  10. lesterm

    lesterm Formula Junior

    Nov 3, 2003
    608
    Durham, NC
    Just to add to my previous comment:

    If you really think you'll enjoy owning a restaurant and want to make money, I would consider opening a restaurant that caters to the masses, not only the select few. Not that I know what I am talking about; however, from what I see, the restaurants that make the most money are those that provide food that everyone can afford and everyone wants to go to. If you look at steak houses, the ones that are the biggest seem to be Ruth Chris, Outback, etc. What is more important to you: making money or the prestige that comes with owning an extremely exclusive establishment. On the flip side, there are a number of restaurants in New York where the owners are making millions; however, these restaurants have been established for many years with famous chefs as owners.

    If I were going to open some sort of food establishment, I'd have cheap food on the menu and give people A LOT of food for the money. I'd make it gimmicky and family style. Hopefully it will take off so I could turn it into a chain.
     
  11. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Apr 28, 2003
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    Texas!
    Where do I start? Back when I was a real CPA (which, of course, begs the question as to what I am now), I used to keep a gun in my desk so that when a client came in and said that he or she was going to open a restaurant, I could hand them the gun and tell them, "Go ahead and shoot yourself in the foot right now. This will be cheaper and less painful than opening a restaurant."

    The real bad news -- I have never seen a business where EVERYBODY steals from you. This includes your customers, your employees, your vendors, and, yes, even your government. (Anyone who has been through a sales tax audit knows what I'm talking about) Just to survive, you must become one of the meanest SOBs that ever walked the earth. Trust nobody! One client caught his cook walking out the door with a ham between her legs.

    Also you must become an expert in grease. Ah yes, the dirty BIG secret of the restaurant bidness, what to do with all that gease...

    On the positive side, if you get a system down (and yes running a successful restaurant has more to do with process management than cooking), a restaurant can be slot machine. Can you say, "No accounts receivables?" Cash flow is king.

    The trick is to get from here to there. My suggestion for you is the one that I always used to give my clients, "Pick up the newspaper. You will find a jillion ads for 'Asst. Restaurant Manager.' Go clean out grease traps for a month, put up with employees on crack, vendors who short your orders and double bill you, slime in the ice machine, and female dog customers for six months. If you make it through that and still want to open a restaurant, God bless you."

    Good Luck, DrTax
     
  12. ryalex

    ryalex Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Aug 6, 2003
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    While I did something different and went the grad school route instead of finding something to do with my life, if I were in your shoes I would look into starting a factory in a niche industry associated with a larger one...

    For example, I read Worth Magazine's 100 Richest People in 100 Cities in America, which picked out the one richest man/woman/family in the largest 100 US cities - the shocking thing was how many people were worth $30-300 million owning a local plant that made things like double-pane glass, several made different valves/precision machined parts, special chemicals, one had a factory making rubber window linings for the big three (if I recall correctly)... the vast majority were in manufacturing, many engineer founders. Some tech, a few medical instrument inventor/mfrs, a few food (Mars family, Wrigley family, Simplot (potatoes)). Very, very few MBA's, JD's, MD's or PhD's.

    I think most will tell you anything restaurant and/or retail is not where you want to be. Production and wholesale is the place to be on the chain. It's certainly not glamorous, but it's something you notice when you drive through industrial areas of big cities and there's always one shiny Benz or 7-series outside the factory. I'm sure many of the F-chatters here have that flashy car outside the plant!
     
  13. writerguy

    writerguy F1 Veteran

    Sep 30, 2003
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    Otto
    Having been on the working side of this buis in my life more than a couple of times I have to tell you this. There are some successful chains out there (TGIFRIDAYS. Brinker group and others) who have the system nailed. Go do the assistant management job at one of thier shops. Ask questions and notice how "the Dead have Risen"

    There are a lot of successful people out there with diners and other things (Brittany, Justin, Ashton) and some of them have Lost VAST amounts of money setting up their little dream.

    The Dining Room bid is tough and much of the time it is a Fad that catches on and then dies. Look around where you live and go back 5 years How many have come and gone, what caught on, and where are they now. sometimes these things seem like a good idea. other than the big chains like Brinker and Carlson or Red Lobster the only ones that seem to really work are the ones where the owner is on site 24-7 to keep his money from walking out the door on him. It is a tough life but if it truely is a dream take a couple of steps and Like Dr Tax said go work for 3 months and see if it can be a reality for you...
     
  14. davem

    davem F1 Veteran
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    Jan 21, 2002
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    Have to agree with all the comments thus far.
    Other thoughts. There are very few restaurants an niteclubs that are both equally succesfull. If you were to pursue this focus on just one or the other. Having 9 seperate dining rooms in your restaurant as a "style" will be an operations nightmare. What you or the managers, host, captains cant see, simply makes life harder.
    If you are opening this in Dubai some of the advice here from other posters will be more or less true. Its hard to give "exact" advice where the laws an customs are diffrent. Perhaps your labor will be cheaper than here in the U.S but food costs higher??
    Im a corporate trainer an multi-store owner for the worlds largest quick service franchise. Its always difficult to give good exacting advice on some specifics to people out of the U.S.
    If after all of this discussion you are still interested in going further.
    Get a job as others suggested at a well run restaurant in your market place. After if still interested i would recommend going the franchise route. Just be sure to go with the biggest an best franchise in your category thats local to you.
    Its tough being the first franchisee in a new market even if the brand is popular elsewhere. You will be the pioneer for the company all the while paying them royalties while they learn from you.
     
  15. Hubert888

    Hubert888 F1 Veteran
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    May 14, 2003
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    My thoughts about you doing anything:

    1. Always start from the dead bottom position and work up. For example if you are interested in opening up your steak restaurant, work first as a waiter somewhere. Then hopefully get a position managing a restaurant. Then open up one yourself. You need to understand every aspect of a business before you try and venture in alone.

    2. Since you are still very young (I assume in the 20's), you may want to reconsider the restaurant business. The busiest nights will probably be on Friday and Saturday. A person in their 20's wants to spend their weekends in a restaurant? I do not think so. I would think that you would want to go out with friends to clubs and lounges. Aren't I right?

    3. Make sure you have connections in the business you are doing. OR at least know someone who is in the business that can give you advice. Otherwise you will have many costly ($$$$) mistakes that you will learn from on the way to conquer your project.
     
  16. twinturbo

    twinturbo Karting

    Nov 10, 2003
    156
    WOW!???

    Looks like the rumor that 90% of all restaurants fail within the first year is really true ... as far as my idea goes it is falling from the top of my list of things to do ... my father owns a steel factory in Dubai and also just finished building a meat factory in Iran ... he really wants me to get into this type of business, I don't know but we'll find out over the summer? He also owns four 40,000sqft+ nightclubs here in the states and that is the side of the business that I've been running for awhile. I started off doing the valet for all the clubs when I was 17, then moved my way into the office, then the clubs, now the GM ... my point is for Hubert that I've lost my weekends for about 6 years now, kinda used to it ... As far as the steakhouse goes, the nightclub/lounge part of it will be second nature to me b/c I've been around that sort of business since I was 5 ...

    I was going to offer two menus, the standard one plus a secondary one that has your basic poultry, fish, etc ... for the people who don't eat beef?? I'm not a big fan of the big open restaurants that don't have seperate rooms because it loses it's cozy atmosphere? I know about service to the point that it is annoying, I would find the happy medium. I don't think I was going into this too blind, I'm somewhat in the industry already?

    Either way I think about it, most of the info that I have received has been greatly appreciated and it has probably steered me clear of the business ... my main inspiration was walking around my own restaurant and being a good host then walking into the lounge and meeting beautiful women? I still don't think the hours will be bad if I enjoy it ... I hate my work now but I'm there every weekend fri-sun 7pm until 5am ...

    Thanks again for the feedback, I will keep everyone posted.
    D
     
  17. PeterS

    PeterS Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Jan 24, 2003
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    TT Wrote:

    "my main inspiration was walking around my own restaurant and being a good host"

    You will be running keeping up with all the crap that goes wrong. When your dishwasher calls in sick, guess what? You are the new dishwasher! When the walk-in freezes over, who gets to stay until 2:00AM while it gets fixed by an A/C guy that is on tripple OT because you got him out of bed to save $4K worth of food. Then you are the bad guy when all of your friends come in and expect free food, cocktails or a discount.

    You should take six months and find a restaurant owner that will take you under his wings and show you what this life is about! I have lived it for six years+. I love Melodie to tears, but if she dropped dead tomorrow, I would never again get involved with anyone in the food biz.
     
  18. twinturbo

    twinturbo Karting

    Nov 10, 2003
    156
    I never said it would be easy but I once again I do agree with you, I'm basically the owner of the nightclubs but you'll catch me out in the rain directing traffic with a flashlight for 3 hours in the cold, running beer to my bars, staying until 6-7 AM until a customer who's key's got lost in valet get's new one's, going to the hospital b/c a bouncer got hurt, trying to balance out the safe for hours b/c $500 is missing, etc ...

    I just find that every business has it's downs or difficulties, I find overcoming these things brings me satisfaction, being a barback and sweating all night so that things run smoothly then jumping in my Porsche TT driving home makes me feel like I've accomplished something? If it was a walk in the park then it would be boring? Just my .02 cents

    D.
     
  19. davem

    davem F1 Veteran
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    Jan 21, 2002
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    TT.
    Ah to be young... Boring is not so bad if it makes you money! Plus then you can devote time to another money making project.
    The best biz to be in takes the least effort for the most profit.
    Biggest challenge for all biz owners is being able to walk away with minimal negative consequences.
    This is why im a fan of franchising. They give you most of the systems allready you need to replicate success over an over again.
     
  20. davem

    davem F1 Veteran
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    Jan 21, 2002
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    TT.
    Ah to be young... Boring is not so bad if it makes you money! Plus then you can devote time to another money making project.
    The best biz to be in takes the least effort for the most profit.
    Biggest challenge for all biz owners is being able to walk away with minimal negative consequences.
    This is why im a fan of franchising. They give you most of the systems allready you need to replicate success over an over again.
     

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