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Open a restaurant: so as not to turn the dream into a nightmare
Open a restaurant: so as not to turn the dream into a nightmare

Cooks on TV. Cooks on the radio. Cooks in live streaming. Cooks at the book fair. Cooks who write books. Chefs who pontificate. Cooks everywhere.

We are submerged, surrounded, overwhelmed by a universe of cheeky chefs who enchant us with their world of designer pans, voluptuous sauces, candid outfits or total black uniforms.

Therefore, it is normal that the number of those who are not satisfied with food just to "see" or tell about it but who would like to experience it firsthand increases the number of people: that is, opening a restaurant.

So, out of the blue, without preparation, without bases, without any experience on the matter except Sunday baked pasta; a bit as if the football fans who watch the games on TV all wanted to play in Manchester instead of on the pitch under the house in the company of old high school mates.

But anyway: opening a restaurant is the new dream of our era, so it is urgent to refresh your memory on what are the main traps, pitfalls, things to know before embarking on the activity:

“I want to open my own restaurant”.


A restaurant doesn't open because you cook midnight spaghetti

If you think that to open a restaurant it is enough to be the best at the stove in the circle of your friends, well, you are out of the way. Running a restaurant business is not just about cooking good food, like you would do a spaghetti meal with friends. First of all it means having the availability of capital (own or borrowed), resources, entrepreneurial skills and organizational skills.

Many are able to cook an excellent carbonara for ten or at least twenty friends in the tranquility of their own home, but do you have any idea what it means to churn out ten first courses, twenty seconds and fifteen side dishes all within an hour, that hour in which every - paying - customer rushes to your door hungry and begins to drum his fingers on the table after half an hour of waiting, crucifying the waiter while continuing to ask for news of his dish lost in the maze of the kitchen?

Are you sure you can handle such a horde? If the answer is no, do not think you can easily solve it by entrusting the kitchen to the first cook you come across: first of all, skilled cooks must be found, and then they must be paid, and this means having foreseen the cost - not indifferent - in your budget. initial.

In this case, the dream of showing your skills in the kitchen alone will soon vanish, and you will instead have to submit to the directives of those who have more profession and more experience, putting your dream of thunderous sautéing in the drawer at least until when you will not be able to manage the kitchen like your cook.


Who the fuck are you to disrespect me?

Between the two factions there seems to be ancient rust. The poor waiter collects any complaints from customers about cooking and service and reports them to the cook as he collected them: badly.

These behaviors, repeated over time, can create an atmosphere of hatred and poor collaboration between dining room staff and kitchen staff, contributing to the defeat of the room due to misunderstandings and lack of organization.

It will be you, as entrepreneurs, who will have to ensure that everyone carries out their duties in an atmosphere of serenity and mutual collaboration. And not because you are St. Francis, but because if the boat sinks, you will sink first, in the midst of debts incurred to open the restaurant.


Nobody will bother to taste what comes out of the kitchen

Perhaps, many of you, like the writer, still have in mind the episode of Masterchef in which a staid Annie Feolde of Enoteca Pinchiorri tasted the dish prepared by a competitor before serving it to the customer in the dining room, and with an authoritative and decisive tone: “For the customer, in this dish you will put a little more oil”.

Here, forget such a thing. In the restaurant under the house, although not of the lowest standard, the chefs throw out the dishes as they have just been cooked, sure of their proven recipe and precise in the doses and in the procedure, and no one tastes the dish before it is served.

Neither cooks nor others. And even if the recipe is tested and safe, the variables involved in the success of a good dish are so many that in practice one course will never be the same as another. This is a mistake.

It may be due to excessive confidence, carelessness, dissatisfaction or any other reason, but no one will bother to taste the preparations that come out of the kitchen. You will have to expect, from yourself as well as from your cook, to constantly monitor the quality of the prepared foods (remember Masterchef? "Taste, taste, taste !!") to always guarantee maximum customer satisfaction.

And a satisfied customer is a returning customer.


The architect will transform € 1,000 into 10,000

In this era of food spectacularization, the setting has assumed such importance that it even surpasses the fundamental reason why people go to restaurants: to taste good food in a comfortable place.

We see halls of restaurants born from the minds of architects indoctrinated on the same, omnipresent stereotypes, which resemble the hairdresser's salon, which in turn resembles the salon of the glossy magazine.

Fashionable settings, designer furnishings, sophisticated architecture, minimal style to the point of excess or, on the contrary, sumptuous to the limits of kitsch.

Given that architects and interior designers cost - even modest ones - and designer furnishings as well, you will have lost sight of the main goal for a novice restaurateur: to offer good food and comfort. And you may have spent a bundle of money as well. Which you will have to repay with interest.

A comfortable, clean and non-ostentatious environment in the style of Renzo Piano of the poor would have done its mission much better.


How many long hands interested in your earnings

The opportunity, as we know, is a thief, and in the battle atmosphere of a restaurant kitchen, the opportunity to hide hams and cotechini just delivered by suppliers is certainly not lacking. Just as there is no shortage of suppliers … distracted, who forget to insert a few packs of mozzarella or a few cartons of beer in the last batch of goods ordered.

In short, in restaurant kitchens, thefts can be the order of the day, it will be up to you to prove yourself smarter and more careful than improvised thieves and "careless" suppliers. Quickly changing both one and the other.


No "seafront" is essential if you cannot afford the rent

Obviously, if you are lucky enough to have a place facing the sea or in front of the Lavaredo peaks, you will have an extra gear. Nonetheless, as pleasant as they are, people don't go to the restaurant to enjoy the breathtaking views but more prosaically to eat. Possibly fine.

So, if your place is lucky enough to be in one of these enviable locations, never forget the core business of your dream: cooking good food for returning customers.

People certainly return to a restaurant where their appetite has been worthily satisfied, even if located in a gray suburb or in a remote village in anonymous valleys. However, it is very difficult to see enchanting landscapes again when the food is bland and the service rude or slow.


While you get lost in nonsense, the bleeding of money continues

You are still there to mull over whether to call the first "delicate risotto with the scent of fresh thyme" or "farmer's risotto" and in the meantime you do not have a cook yet, you have not yet made an appointment with the ASL to check the premises and equipment (ditto for all other bureaucratic-administrative formalities).

You don't have a shred of business plan for your company (because the restaurant is a company, remember, and not a bachelor party between friends), you have no idea how much the raw materials of the menus you are going to propose cost and you have not even contacted any suppliers and checked the conditions of sale.

Yet you are already, new Crackos, fantasizing about wonderful preparations in pots and refined dishes with roses and violets: ooohhh, wake up!


Are you really convinced?

Good. Have you finished. Do you have a semblance of budget, have you got an idea of the expenses and what the average income should be at least to cover all - ALL - costs, you are in order with permits, ASL and bureaucracy, premises and various equipment are ready, the the cook is standing at attention and the waiter as well, you just have to open.

Do you think that, having considered these elements, everything will be fine? Of course not. Business risk is just around the corner, and the success of your establishment can often depend on variables that are not under your direct control, such as opening at the wrong time, aka lean cow periods, or in the wrong place.

But if at least you have planned your business carefully and carefully, the risk will be less and, perhaps, success will come to you.

But it won't be easy, just know!

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