So, it's been a hobby for years, you're really good at it and now the dream is to open your own Restaurant. After all, it's the next logical step to sharing your wonderful creations with the world. But is it as easy as that or is it a potential minefield?
I have been running a Restaurant Consultancy business for over eight years, working hand in hand with people who have a concept and helping them turn their concept into a success. I've helped to set up many successful restaurants and outside catering businesses.
So, how do you go about setting up your own restaurant or catering business?
The first thing to do is find the right location, in fact this is probably the most important thing to get right. Work out the demographic that you believe will become your customer base ... if you are targeting students, setup in a university town; if you are targeting a more gourmet palate then aim for a town that has a population with a good disposable income. If you want to aim your food at everyone then pick somewhere that has a good mixed demographic. Consider local religions, there's no point in setting up a Pork restaurant in an area that is predominantly Jewish or Muslim! Location is really important ... spend a lot of time checking areas out before making the commitment to a property.
Next, find the right property ... it needs to be easily accessible. If it's out of town make sure it's somewhere people will want to travel to. If it's in town, try and find a location that has a good passing footfall. Make sure it's of a size that is manageable, how many covers do you want to serve? Is the kitchen big enough to take the equipment you need? Is there a local clean air policy, i.e. Will there be a problem with the exhaust from your smoker, should you use a smoker with less exhaust or will your extraction and filtration system blow the budget?
Yep, it's a minefield and we haven't even touched on layout, fitting, kitchen planning, EHO, HACCP's, SOP's, flavour profiles, suppliers, recipes, gross profit calculations and drumming up business!
So, if you're thinking of opening a restaurant make sure you know the potential pitfalls as well as the advantages. There are quite a few folks around who do restaurant Consultancy, myself included. Take time to look into what a Consultant can offer you, personally I offer everything from kitchen layout planning, along with front of house layout, a full documentation package to help you meet Environmental Health standards. I also offer help to develop flavour profiles, recipes and training your chefs, as well as ongoing quality control and hygiene visits. So whether you are looking for an end to end package or barbecue training for your chefs, don't be afraid to ask for help.
Finally, what are my credentials? I have been barbecuing for over 30 years, specialising in the American low and slow way for more than 14 years. I learnt my craft in America from one of the best, Ray Lampe (aka Dr BBQ). I won the Jack Daniels World Barbecue Championships back in 2004. Thus far, I am still the only non-American and only woman (Chief Cook) to ever win this prestigious Grand Champion title. I have run an outside catering business, cooking at large festivals and private parties. I founded the American BBQ Company and was one of the first people to import American Smokers into the UK. I have been running a Restaurant Consultancy business for around 10 years and have helped set up many successful restaurants. For more information, please visit my Consultancy website www.bbqconsultant.co.uk.
I love to promote barbecue, whether it be hot and fast or low and slow and am in the process of setting up Barbecue Cookery Workshops, to showcase and teach the joys of real barbecue and to help people improve their outdoor cooking techniques, including backyard grilling, low and slow, curing and cold smoking, sausage and burger making; right through to home based training and chef training for restaurants. For more information, please visit my BBQ Workshop website, www.bbqworkshop.co.uk.
World Barbecue Champion