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How to Start Your Own Restaurant

October 31, 2009 Le Cordon Bleu St. Louis 0 Comments

"I have no idea where to start. If only I had the money..." This is the painful sigh of bitter frustration among aspiring entrepreneurs who long to open their own restaurant. The moan of regret is quickly followed by: "There are so many obstacles. A small business is bound to fail in this economy." A valid point, but a challenge that's undoubtedly possible to overcome. Opening up a restaurant is no small task, but the bigger task at hand is finding the courage within to pursue it. The first step is dispelling any and all doubts that may curb your drive. The second step is to read below for a guide on how to get started and find success when establishing a new restaurant.

Make Friends With People Who Like Food

In other words, make friends with everybody. Networking is the first place to start once you decide to open a restaurant. Although shaking hands and chatting up every friend of a friend of a friend may seem tedious, it will actually prepare you for the real restaurant experience. As an owner and/or lead chef, you're pretty much obligated to get friendly with any customer that walks through your doors (snooty indifference isn't kosher until you've won at least three culinary achievement awards)...so get used to meet and greets. Sign up for small business networking events, join the local culinary club, and get to know successful restaurateurs in the area -- do anything you can to make your name known.

Cultivate an Idea

As smart as you are, that genius idea you've been sitting on for the last five years has most likely already been taken. Don't get too attached to your fantasy of the ultimate restaurant; expect your plans to change and prepare accordingly. Ask any proprietor -- the restaurant they built looks little to nothing like the cafe they dreamed of. As long as you're open to revising the draft of your future, you'll find ways to adjust to unforeseen roadblocks, and still manage to create a space that reflects your personality.

Listen and Learn

While harnessing your support system and creating a potential client base, take advantage of the opportunity to learn from the people around you -- these are the people you'll be serving and will offer you the most valuable advice in crafting your dream restaurant. Pay attention to the consumer habits of your city through market research and interviews. You will gain far more from reaching out to other people for help and advice than only looking within yourself for inspiration. The restaurant you open needs to make sense to the public, not just you. And the more people you have on your side in the planning process, the easier it will be to find funding, retail space, and promotion opportunities.

Ready, Set, Go!

Ok, so you've found a network, landed some loan money, and formulated a menu and design plan that's sure to be a crowd pleaser. Now, the fun part: Put it all together. Connecting the dots of a longtime dream is an incredibly rewarding, yet humbling experience. Revel in these final moments of construction, celebrate your commitment to a goal, and look back and laugh at the former you who was plagued by doubt. The journey has just begun; never forget to enjoy the ride.

This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts St. Louis. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts St. Louis offers Le Cordon Bleu culinary education classes and culinary training programs in St. Louis, Missouri. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/St-Louis for more information.

The jobs mentioned are examples of certain potential jobs, not a representation that these outcomes are more probable than others. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts St. Louis does not guarantee employment or salary.

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