How To Start A Restaurant (Part 5)

Marketing and Promotion

Some strategies that you may want to consider is the opening of a new restaurant include:

a. Print Advertising.

b. Radio and TV advertising.

c. Direct mail.

d. Neighborhood fliers.

e. Coupon programs.

f. Public relations.

g. Special banners and signs on the restaurant.

h. Special meals or promotions.

i. Pre-opening meals served for selected parties (such as charitable groups or reporters).

j. Social Media

The level of promotion that will be necessary to publicize a newly-opened restaurant will depend, to a large extent, on the restaurantís location and its reputation. A restaurant that is located on a corner at the intersection of two busy

streets may only need to place a "Now Open" banner on the building to attract customers. Similarly, an established restaurant that is opening at another location will not need to work as hard at name recognition, since the operationís name is familiar with the dinning public. A restaurant that is not well known or well located will have to develop a budget and marketing plan to alert the public to the fact that the restaurant is now open.

Once the site has been determined, the restaurateur should evaluate the menu and determine its effect on purchasing and inventory requirements. This usually requires that you:

a. Finalized the menu.

b. Establish a recipe file.

c. Price the menu.

d. Place initial food and beverage orders.

Finalize the menu. Typically, when determining the restaurant concept, the preliminary menu is confined to the entrees that the proposed operation plans to serve. For example, a steak house concept might formulate a preliminary menu based on the types of steaks to be served and the planned cooking method. As the restaurant prepares for opening, it is necessary to round out the preliminary menu by deciding on the specifics of the menu, including:

a) Appetizers

b) Salads

c) Entrees

d) Desserts

e) Non-alcoholic beverages

f) Beer, wine, and liquor selections

Once the menu is finalized, the restaurateur can develop the recipes that will be used for each item.

Establish a Recipe File. A recipe file is an important part of establishing portion standards. As you prepare for the opening, one of the most important tasks is to develop recipes for each menu item. Generally, there are a variety of different ways to prepare a menu item. The chef often goes through a process of testing and refining recipes until he or she settles on the recipe that will be included in the file. Obviously, the primary objective of the testing phase is to develop a recipe that will taste good to the public. However, there are two other important objectives.

a) Develop preparation standards. A recipe will not be suitable if it cannot be prepared efficiently in the kitchen. Therefore, for that reason the chef should set standards for the length of time needed to prepare the entrťe. For example, a restaurant might set a standard of 4 minutes to prepare a lunch item and 12 minutes to prepare a dinner item. By setting a preparation standard, the chef can identify overly complex recipes that require simplification. If the revised item cannot meet the preparation standard, it should be dropped from the menu.

b) Develop portion standards. Once the recipe if finalized, portion standards can be developed. Setting standard portions permits you to accurately price the menu and determine initial inventory needs.

The bar manager should also develop a recipe file for all alcoholic beverages included in the bar menu.

Purchasing and Inventory

The process of pricing the menu is no different for a start-up restaurant than for an established operation. The restaurateur determines the portion cost of each item, and calculates the menu price using one of the approved methods for menu pricing. Unlike an established restaurant, a start-up operator will have no direct knowledge of the target customersí price resistance, and runs a risk of setting its menu prices too high. In such a situation, the initial patrons may not come back, and additionally, they may complain about the prices to their friends. However, if the start-up restaurantís menu prices are in line with the prices of near-by restaurants, price resistance is generally not a major problem.

Once you have established the prices, the menus can be ordered. Depending on the style selected, printing a menu can take up to two months. Accordingly, you should take printing time into account to ensure your menus are ready for opening day.

In most start-up situation you should consider the amount of inventory needed for pre-opening testing. The preopening testing phase allows the kitchen staff and the servers to work together in ordering, preparing and delivering actual meals. It is an important part of preparing a restaurant for opening because this phase often identifies bottlenecks or rough spots in the operation that require fixing or fine tuning before opening day.

Pre-opening testing can also be made a part of the marketing and promotion program by inviting parties, such as newspaper reporters or charitable organizations, to the restaurant. However, if the public is served as part of the preopening phase, all business and health permits should be in order.

Make sure you complete a physical inventory of all food and beverage inventories on the night before the restaurant opens. Doing so provides a starting point that allows you to track food costs accurately from day one.

Hiring Personnel

Although the basic considerations for hiring restaurant employees in a start-up situation are the same as for established operations, the task is complicated by the fact that an entire staff must be hires at once. The steps that are typically followed when initially hiring personnel include:

a. Identify required staffing levels.

b. Develop procedures to ensure that:

ē Job application process is in accordance with the ADA

ē Forms I-9 are obtained for all employees.

c. Develop job descriptions for all employees.

d. Develop a job application form.

e. Develop personnel policies and adopt a pay scale for all positions.

f. Place ads and signs to inform potential employees that the restaurant is hiring.

g. Interview and select employees.

h. Schedule training and orientation sessions before opening date.

i. Prepare the schedule for opening week.

Required Staffing Levels

Staffing levels can be efficiently determined using the Labor Staffing Chart, which provides a pictorial representation of the restaurantís personnel needs. One difficulty facing a manager completing this form for a start-up operation is that he or she will have to guess as to which days or periods will be busy or slow. Accordingly, the initial decision about staffing levels should be monitored and corrected, if necessary, after the restaurant opens.

You should also consider the need to hire a few employees to help with setting up the restaurant. One or two employees hired two to four weeks prior to opening can often be helpful in performing tasks such as:

a. Setting up the store room and bar area.

b. Cleaning and testing equipment.

c. Storing china, glassware, silverware, and linen.

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