server holding a tray of food

6 Things Restaurateurs Wish They Knew Before They Opened Their Doors

The food and beverage industry is a competitive one, partly because it draws people from all walks of life. The quest to make delicious food for hungry people appeals to many, from the classically trained chef to the amateur cook faithfully preparing family recipes.

But that doesn’t mean entrepreneurial bakers, chefs, brewers, and baristas should be discouraged by the competition. There’s plenty of success to go around for the restaurateurs who work hard and make wise business choices. 

Here are six factors to consider before you make any major moves toward opening a restaurant:

Location Is Vital to Success

No matter how brilliant your ideas and execution, your restaurant is unlikely to be a destination all on its own. Don’t choose a remote place and rely on people driving half an hour just to experience what you have to offer, even if the rent is cheap. 

Exposure to busy roads and proximity to other businesses that draw traffic are almost always a must. But you should be sure to do your research into even the most seemingly ideal locations. A central location can receive surprisingly disappointing traffic if parking is a hassle or frequent construction makes it difficult to reach. Research why the space is available. Did a previous restaurant fail? Why? Don’t expect to have immunity from the same problems that caused that business to shut its doors. 

Of course, you’ll also want to make sure the building is up to code and that it can reasonably accommodate your ideal crowd size. 

Define a Theme, But Don’t Sell Out to a Trend

Your theme is just as important as the quality of your food. A typical dine-in restaurant customer isn’t just looking to have someone else prepare food for them. They’re seeking ambiance, an experience that they couldn’t get anywhere else.

In the age of online sharing, the aesthetic and novelty aspects of dining or drinking establishments are more important than ever. At the same time, you may not want to base your entire concept on a passing fad. A trendy dish can get people through your doors, but your ability to adapt to the changing culture of food will keep them coming. 

Remember when there was bacon in everything from ice cream sundaes to fried chicken? Five years ago, a restaurant that placed all of its eggs in the bacon basket probably experienced great success. But where are they now that the bacon-on-everything trend has declined? You can incorporate fads without staking your entire business model on them.

Hire Experienced Staff 

Many new restaurant owners think they can hire people with minimal experience and train them on the job. But no matter how much your friend’s cousin needs a paying gig, hiring experienced front and kitchen staff is critical. Thriving in a restaurant environment requires a cool head, adaptability, and professionalism, qualities that are often cultivated through experience. An amazing restaurant with bad service is not an amazing restaurant. 

Establish a Healthy Culture

Hiring experienced, professional staff is only part of building a positive culture for your employees. The turnover rate in the food and beverage industry is higher than most, partly because the work is demanding and fast-paced, and partly because many workers see jobs in this industry as a financial stepping stone. That makes it all the more imperative to prioritize your employees’ well-being. 

Make Sure Your Kitchen Is a Safe Place to Work

A key component of caring for your employees is making sure that their work environment is safe. The restaurant industry tends to present many physical hazards, from slip-and-fall accidents and burn risks to back strain from heavy lifting. Make sure there are slip-proof surfaces on the floor where necessary, as well as safety warnings on any machinery that could pose a hazard. Don’t make too many employees work in a tight, crowded space. Be sure your staff understands how to handle food safely and what to do in case of an emergency. Brief your employees on safety precautions before they start work, and offer frequent refreshers. 

More accidents happen when people are overworked and stressed. Be sure to let your employees rest and take care of themselves. 

 

Find a Good Workers’ Comp Insurance Partner 

Even the most conscientious employer can’t control every variable in the workplace. Sometimes unpreventable accidents happen on the job. When they do, it’s reassuring to have a comprehensive workers’ comp policy that will protect both you and your employees financially. 

If you have questions about getting a workers’ comp policy for your restaurant, or if you would like tips on how to increase the safety of your restaurant work environment, visit our Learning Center to find out more. 

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