A restaurant has to do more than just serve good food if it's going to turn a profit. According to restaurateur Joe Bastianich, chef Tim Love and pastry chef Waylynn Lucas, aspiring restaurant owners who overlook this truism are making an oft-repeated and sometimes fatal error in their industry.
"People think that if they can just make a good food product… that it's enough and they can open a business," Lucas said. "That is such a small piece of the puzzle to what makes a profitable, successful restaurant."
The Four Corners Tavern Group operates 10 high-volume venues in Chicago. Its director, Ryan Indovina, offered examples of mistakes that he's seen new restaurateurs make time and again.
"People typically raise just the amount of funding they need to open a restaurant," he said. "They don't always consider that they need a reservoir of cash to run the restaurant for the first three to six months."
He also said that rookie restaurant owners often create unrealistic timelines for their openings.
"Take into consideration lead time for permits, liquor licenses, construction, marketing build-out and more," he said. "These things never happen on time, so build in lots of extra time for unexpected obstacles."
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He also had some advice that could be considered fitting for any restaurant opening in his home town of Chicago.
"If you're opening in a colder city, make sure to build in enough time so you're not stuck opening in January and February, when no one leaves their house," he said. He also put a lot of stock in picking the correct location.
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"Don't be swayed by a great deal if it's not in a good location," he said. "The perfect location is worth the higher price tag. The restaurant business is the real estate business."
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