I really, really, really want to open my own restaurant. I love to cook! I love to entertain! I have my friends over, like, every weekend. The problem is, my wife doesn’t think it’s a good idea. She worries that if I quit my office job (which I hate) then we might not make enough money to support our family. I told her that it might be a little hard at first, but then we would be fine. I mean, everyone tells me that I should open my own restaurant, so I should do it, right?
Dear Frankie M,
You love to cook and entertain – that’s great. However, that alone does not mean you should open your own restaurant. Your wife has very valid concerns about money. New restaurants are usually flush with cash and if you are used to a steady paycheck from an outside source, it can be hard. But not impossible. The key to knowing if you are ready to open your own restaurant is to do as much homework as possible. By that I mean, looking at it from every possible angle. Have you written a business plan yet? Do you have a certain location in mind? Doing these two things will help you have a better vision of your future restaurant. Writing a business plan will help you nail down all the details of financing, as well as your restaurant concept and your competition.
Now, my next question is in regards to your motivation to open a restaurant. Cooking and entertaining for friends is very different from feeding the paying public. And serving up a hundred or more dinners each night is different pace and atmosphere than an intimate dinner party in your home kitchen. Do you have prior restaurant experience? If not, I suggest you try waiting tables or even bussing tables, on the weekends, to get see if you even like working in the restaurant business.
Being a restaurant owner is more than just cooking and waiting tables. It involves bookkeeping, hiring and firing, advertising and marketing, repairman (or repairwoman) and even cleaning and dishwashing if someone calls in sick or just doesn’t show up for their shift. So, are you willing to do all of the above, and then some?
Your wife isn’t thrilled about you opening a restaurant. So, before you do anything, you should have her support, because opening a business like a restaurant, is going to impact your family life. Restaurants thrive on nights, weekends and often time holidays. Are you willing to give those up with your family to work? Do you have kids? It isn’t uncommon for a restaurant owner to work six to seven days a week. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of family time.
The flip side of all this, is that you are your own boss, and that can be the best career move someone can make. Even though it requires a lot of hours, my business partner/husband and I were able to juggle our schedules to fit the needs of our young children. I would come in early and do paperwork, bringing my kids with me, and they would play in the restaurant before it opened. He would do the lunch and dinner shifts, and skip home in-between to see everyone for a few hours. We would have holiday dinners at the restaurant, with our staff, after closing time, and include our kids. In short, we adapted our life to fit the restaurant. It worked for us, at that time in our lives. So, how flexible is your lifestyle? Opening a new restaurant can be a lot of work and challenging, but it can also be the start of excellent career for the right person.