The Odds are Against Them, Yet People Continue to Open Restaurants

There are more than 965,000 free-standing restaurants in the United States. That does not include Business and Industry foodservice, Schools, Hospitals, or home-meal replacement from your local grocery store deli-counter.

Most data points to a 66% failure rate for free-standing restaurants in their first year of operation and 90% failure rate for those who manage to make it to year five.

What is most ironic is that despite these figures the number of restaurants continue to grow each and every year. When one restaurant closes, another is ready and willing to take its place.

Let’s take a moment to unscientifically evaluate why this is so:
WHY DO PEOPLE OPEN RESTAURANTS?

1. Chefs open their own restaurants (usually with another persons’ money) because it is their dream to show the world what they can do. The restaurant, to them, is a canvas waiting for the artist to paint.
2. Restaurant managers open restaurants because they believe that they have the formula for success that no one else has discovered.
3. So called – smart business people who have made their mark in other industries, open their own restaurant because: “how hard can it be”? this must be a quick and easy way to get rich – look at what they charge!
4. Family members open another restaurant because dad had his own and he was successful! It must be in their genetic make-up.
5. Some people open restaurants because they like to eat out and they really “know” food.
6. Some open restaurants because it would be great to have a place where their friends could come and have a terrific meal. (be careful of “friends” who expect something for free)
7. Some open restaurants so that they can have their own personal bar.

…and the list goes on. What many don’t realize is how hard, demanding, unpredictable and fragile this business is. To that end, here is a primer for all would be restaurateurs:

RESTAURANT REALITY:
1. Location is still everything. Make sure you are visible, close to lots of foot and vehicular traffic and flush with parking spaces.
2. You will be in the service business which means that YES – the customer is right.
3. The top line drives the bottom line. SALES, SALES, SALES.
4. Quality, interesting and flavorful food is an expectation. It is the price of admission.
5. Be aware of what is trending: local, sustainable, nutritious, healthy and fresh.
6. Value is more important that price.
7. At best, restaurants can expect to make 5% profit. That is only possible if you minimize waste, theft and spoilage and continually attract enough guests.
8. Rent will kill you! A good rule of thumb is that your annual rent should not exceed 6% of gross sales and total occupancy costs should not exceed 10%.
9. Food spoils!
10. People steal! (customers and employees)
11. Free drinks will put you out of business.
12. Family members should pay for their food and drinks like everyone else.
13. Taxes must be paid on time.
14. Dining rooms generate sales and kitchens incur cost. Make your dining rooms larger than your kitchen.
15. Chefs are frustrated artists, but unlike many famous artists you want to sell product while you are still alive. Menus should reflect what people will buy.
16. Cash flow is king. Make sure it is coming in faster than it is going out.
17. Cash may be out of style but remember it costs you money for the privilege of accepting credit cards. You must accept credit, but smile when they pay you in cash.
18. Pick your vendors wisely – they are the basis for great tasting food and can even be viewed as a bank that gives you 30 plus days to pay back the loan of supplies.
19. Guests come initially for the food but return because of your service. Select employees well, train them constantly, treat them well, support them, measure their performance and reward them when you can.

…once again, the list goes on. Do you still want to own a restaurant? If so, let Harvest America Ventures help you to minimize many of those factors that lead to failure. Contact us today!
Harvest America Ventures, LLC
Restaurant Consulting and Training
http://www.harvestamericaventures.com
psorgule@hotmail.com

Restaurant New Year’s Resolution – Business Success!

Restaurant New Year's Resolution - Business Success!

It is hard to believe that 2013 is here. If you are a chef or restaurateur, one of your New Year’s Resolutions will probably revolve around creating greater opportunities for business success.

Let Harvest America Ventures help you through a formal operational assessment, development of a staff training program, assistance with concept development and menu engineering, implementation of control measures, or even strategic planning for a bright future.

Harvest America Ventures is a hands-on consulting/training firm with extensive expertise in restaurant assessment and operation and decades of background in teaching and training.

Give us a call or refer us to a friend today. We are ready and willing to help!

Happy New Year,

Paul Sorgule, AAC, MS
president
Harvest America Ventures, LLC
http://www.harvestamericaventures.com
culinarycuesblog.wordpress.com
psorgule@hotmail.com
518-524-5906

A Teachers Greatest Joy

A Teachers Greatest Joy

What is the significance of teaching? The longer I taught, the more I realized that teaching is a calling that has many rewards. By far, the most significant reward is the pride and satisfaction derived from seeing graduates succeed in life. This success takes many forms: some are successful with their careers, some are successful with their contributions to their community or their country, and many are truly successful with their family life. However it is measured, any impact that a teacher might have on this is rewarding beyond words.

As I look back at 2012 I felt compelled to acknowledge how proud I am of all of the students that I had the pleasure to teach and the staff that I had the pleasure to work with.

Here is just a sampling of some who come to mind and should be noted for their accomplishments. If your name does not appear, please do not feel slighted, it is just a sampling. I hope to write another book over the next year or so that shows the connections between teacher and student.

Chef Jamie Keating: Owner/Chef of Epic Restaurant in Georgia and past member of the U.S. Culinary Olympic Team.
Chef Curtiss Hemm: Teacher extraordinaire and founder of Pink Ribbon Cooking.
Chef Tim McQuinn: Executive Chef of the North Hero House in Vermont.
Chef Gretel Ann-Alexy: Owner/Operator of Cupps Bakery in Vermont and contestant on the Next Great Baker.
Chef David Russ: Career Military Man, past #1 Chef in the U.S. Army and member/coach of the U.S. Military Culinary Olympic Team.
Jack Edwards: Director of Marketing and Sales for Miner Family Vineyards in the Napa Valley.
Wendy Hackett (Kilponen): National Account Manager with Seattle’s Best Coffee.
Chef Robin Schempp: Owner/operator of the Right Stuff Product Development and Consulting.
Chef Steve Schimoler: Chef/Owner of Crop Restaurant.
Arthur Cote: National Sales Director Fortessa China.
Chef Ryan O’Malley: Chef Instructor at New England Culinary Institute.
Chef Phil Flath: Executive Chef at Ocean Edge Resort in Massachusetts.
Chef Paul Ozimek: Executive Chef at Taste Restaurant in Albany and past member of Charlie Trotter’s Team in Chicago.
Chef Jody Winfield: Executive Chef at Bone Island Grill in Georgia.
Chef Tim Hardiman: Chef/Owner of The Tailor and the Cook in Utica, New York.
Tracey Caponera: Director of Inter-Institutional Programs at SUNY Delhi.
Jonathan Copeland: Director of Seafood at Dole and Bailey Provisioners in Massachusetts.
Nicole Fiacco: Account Director at the St. Regis at Monarch Beach in California.
Nick Dolota: Event Planner at a Savvy Event in Sonoma.
Chef Jamie Prouten: Executive Chef at Tiburon Tavern in Sonoma.
Chef Eamon Lee: Corporate Chef at Maines Company.
Jack Moyer: Vice President 1886 Crescent Hotel in Arkansas. Board member of Historic Hotels of America.
Kristin Parker: Wedding and Events Coordinator at the Whiteface Club in Lake Placid.
Chef Jason Porter: Regional Chef for The Compass Group.
Rene Farley: Senior Manager at Apple, Inc. (my favorite company)
Brian Perry: Maitre d’ at Morton’s of Chicago.
George Flay: Executive Chef at Ardsley Country Club.
Julie Krzyzanowski Bumgarner: Director of Catering and Convention Services – Hyatt Rochester.
Chef Jennifer Beach: Director of Baking at Popovers on the Square in New Hampshire.
Chef Kathy Donaho: Chef Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu in Las Vegas.
Dawn Swaney: Sous Chef at Mintwood Place in Washington, DC.

and hundreds of others who I have had the pleasure to work with in the classroom and in the kitchen.

Happy New Year!

A Special Dinner at the Left Bank Cafe

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