The Restaurant: Intro to Chapter 1 (Pt.1)

Audrey was a student. She purchased a textbook: The Restaurant: From Concept to Operation by John R. Walker. Audrey then donated that textbook to a Pasadena Goodwill where I purchased it circa 2012.

Audrey, John R. Walker, and I are all going to go on a little journey. I’m not a restauranteur, but I’m considering creating a restaurant from scratch, and this seems as good a guide as any.

The journey begins with the book’s introduction to its first section. It’s two pages that tell the story of a Belgian cafe. According to Audrey’s notes, the prime takeaways here are:

1.) A pre-established site is best when opening a new venture.
2.) Press releases upon opening are important.
3.) Increase your opening budget projections by 20%.

I plan on attacking each chapter a little differently, but taking Audrey’s lead, I decided to do light research on each of her starting points.

1.) Building A Restaurant

My admiration for the Cheesecake Factory is both mixed and sincere. Eater writer Kelsey Lawrence has this great piece about Rick McCormack the man who created the Cheesecake Factory’s signature restaurant style.

Side note: While tooling around I found that some are of the opinion that a restaurant’s physical location is less important than it used to be (more on that later).

2.) Press Releases

If I were to launch a restaurant these days, I feel like it would be a better idea to ramp up a social media presence as opposed to merely dropping a press release.

This can be as mission-critical and complex as starting a Restaurant Kickstarter, but my favorite restaurant publicity campaign involved the opening of Commonwealth Restaurant & Market in Cambridge, MA with regular updates on construction and sourcing from Chef/Owner “Nookie” Postal in Eater Boston (Commonwealth also had a Kickstarter). With so much noise surrounding restaurants, I think the “best” way to announce a new restaurant is constantly changing.

That being said, this is a great food related press release involving nudists.

3.) How Much?

This piece, The Cost of Starting Up a Restaurant from Inc. Magazine, talks at length with restaurant owner John Kunkel who is quoted as saying: “The construction phase is one of the most daunting things for small business owners… I’ve seen many places that don’t even make it to opening because they didn’t anticipate all of the costs.”

I’m not spoiling anything to tell you it costs about half a million to get a super basic restaurant up and going.

Though trendy, food trucks aren’t necessarily a cheap alternative. Maybe Ludobites was the smartest thing in restaurants in a while? All it takes is a brilliant chef (ha).

I wonder what kind of grade Audrey got in this class…

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