Maybe you went into school thinking you were going to open a restaurant when you got out. Maybe you went into school thinking you were going to be an engineer, and then decided your true passion was food. Whatever your reasoning, or however long you have been planning to open a restaurant, here are some tips to cater your culinary craft and become the most successful restaurant owner that you can be. It is still very beneficial to finish your schooling and then open your restaurant, so you can take the time to learn some necessary skills for opening a restaurant such as budgeting, leadership and of course cooking.
Basics of Cooking
Even if you aren’t going to be the chef at your restaurant, maybe you know a special someone to be your head chef or maybe you just plan on hiring one, you still need to know the basics of cooking. If you don’t know anything about cooking, many schools offer cooking classes for fun or as a part of their culinary schools if they have one. You should definitely consider taking a few. Even if you go to a research university that doesn’t have its own culinary school, many schools still have SOME type of cooking class. Check around with other students or ask an advisor to help you use the course catalog to find one. They may be hiding in strange departments, but usually they are there.
Business, Accounting & Marketing Knowledge
Another thing you can do as a student to help you prepare for the restaurant business is take classes in marketing, accounting and business. If you plan on opening up a restaurant, chances are you are going to need to know all of these things. You can’t own a restaurant if you don’t understand the business aspect of owning a restaurant. And you won’t be able to keep it running and profitable if you don’t understand accounting. It will also be easier to get more customers and increase your profits if you have an intermediate or advanced knowledge of successful marketing techniques.
Another thing you can do while you are a student is network with other students who are close to graduating that you think will be good business partners or work well in your restaurant. Classmates might be just the people you are looking to hire when you start the hiring process, especially if you already know that they have good work ethic and you can work well with them.
Take advantage of every opportunity to learn about the restaurant business while you are in school. Some colleges and universities offer entrepreneurship programs or classes where you can pitch your business plans to people and have them support you to get real life experience. If your university has a plan like this make sure you are learning from it.
Feedback is Helpful
Also don’t be afraid to tell people about your plan. Feedback is super helpful when first starting out in the restaurant business, and the more people you tell about it now, the less marketing you have to do later. You want to have people show up on your first day! Oftentimes by the time restaurants open they already have significant followers who are anticipating their opening! It’s never too early to start marketing!
Sammy Jo is a writer for Lutz’s BBQ, a local catering company in Jefferson City and Columbia, Mo.