Three Things About Restaurants You Don't Think About

Pest Control, Theft, and Getting Famous

Woman on cell phone with paperwork in restaurant
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Opening a new restaurant is no small endeavor. Even the tiniest dining room or the most miniscule commercial kitchen, one that is crammed into a former hallway of a former downtown office building, requires so. much. work. There are permits, licenses, fees, insurance binders, financiers, staff, equipment, vendors, marketing....the list goes on and on. And just when you are getting close to opening - you've found the perfect location, negotiated a fair lease, hired all the right people - you will find your to-do list still growing.

There are all sorts of less glamorous aspects to owning your own restaurant, ones that nobody really talks about. So I'm going to talk about them, for a change. 

Pest Control 

Yes. I said it. You are working in the food business. Even if your commercial kitchen is spotless, all the time, it will attract pests. The last thing you want is a rat scurrying through your dining room. You do not want that to happen. Contract with a pest control company to do monthly maintenance in your restaurant (preferably in the morning, when no one is around). 

Employee Theft 

This is another area that isn't widely discussed, but should be. Theft in a restaurant comes in many forms - it can be money, but more likely and less traceable is the theft of food and booze. Make sure your liquor supply is locked up when unattended. As the owner, you may not do the liquor ordering - leaving up to the bartender or manager.

However, it's your money paying for the order, so make sure you are reviewing it each week. For example, if you notice that there Jose Cuervo Silver is being ordered every week, check you POS system to correlate the sales. Someone on staff may be drinking your profits after their shift or just blatantly taking the liquor home.

Ditto for food orders. If you are seeing a spike in beef tenderloin orders, see how many you're actually selling.  

Getting Famous or Rich (or lack Thereof) 

In this great article by former chef and author Kimberly Snow, she points out that In a restaurant kitchen, even the appliances have delusions of grandeur. . . It's easy to be seduced by the idea of owning a restaurant as a gateway to fame and or fortune. Food Network has elevated chefs to celebrity status and made cooking well into endless competitions, with shiny golden prizes for the winners. In real life however, owning a restaurant is well, a lot of hard work. Even people who work most of their lives in a restaurant, somehow think owning one will be different. But at the end of the day, you are still cooking, cleaning, chopping, washing, you-name-it; and as the owner, there's a good chance you aren't always going to be paid in a timely fashion (or at all).

So, before you open your own restaurant, it's vitally important you examine your reasons for doing so. Get up close and personal with why you want to be your own boss. As well as why you want to open a restaurant in particular. Do you like cooking? Good. Do you like people?

It would help if you did. Do you like managing employees? Because that's a non-negotiable part of owning your own restaurant. Make sure you are going into business for the right reasons.