Monday, March 20, 2006

Playing with new ideas

My goal has been, for as long as I can remember, to run a successful restaurant. When it came time to pack up and move forward, did I make a trek to the coast and go to Culinary school? No. When was the last time you read a book about a restaurant failing because the chef couldn't cook? That's what I thought. You, nor I, have read a story like that. Restaurants, or many of them, fail because they cannot be handled at a business level. So, like any good Socrates, I obtained a business degree. Now I'm working on the next part, getting some culinary ideas and a little exposure to the business at a higher level of quality than I'm used to.

Which brings up my current situation. I was, as of last week, in the process of a stage. In case you don't know, a stage involves a person wanting to get some experience in the culinary field working for 'free'. By free I mean no monetary compensation but in the place of money, the worker gets access to knowledge that would otherwise not be accessible. However, as of last Thursday, I am officially getting paid to do work for my current employer. I am in, as the phrase goes.

So what did I do the first weekend of my employment? The same stuff I did for free. I sliced carrots, cut chard and arugula, blanched asparagus, did a little saute work when it was slow, diced onions, all of the things that so much of America shuns today; but the select few of us (we know who we are) are content to whittle away an entire weekend building a culinary masterpiece of our own creation. (Both words - culinary and masterpiece - are in the eyes of the creator)

This restaurant experience and business knowledge still are means to an end for me. And that end is, as I said, a place of my own. My most recent thoughts have been trying to find a solution to what I believe to be the number one barrier to entry in the industry: up front capital cost. This is a serious issue, especially for someone of my character (aka my bank account which, by the way, is not followed with the necessary zeros for this kind of thing). I was lucky enough, during a wine tasting dinner, to sit across from another restaurant owner, which I discussed my dilemma in great depth. By the end of the evening, and the 6 courses, the consensus was this. Use a $100,000 restaurant to fund a $200,000 dollar restaurant. Use a $200,000 restaurant to fund a $300,000 restaurant. And so on. Capital for a $100,000 business enterprise is easier to obtain. So, for the past few months I have been bouncing around ideas in my 'spare time'. I would like to jot a few of them out here, but I feel I have to have a much more concrete vision for myself first. Such is the life.


At 3:27 PM, Blogger Johnny_One_Five said...

I had a friend once who said that in order to succeed, you need to use other people's money. On the contrary, I think that since your heart is in the right place, you will succeed no matter whose money you use.

Keep up the faith dear Chef!

At 11:18 AM, Blogger celebchef said...

Sounds kinda like buying a house... start with a condo, trade up to a small house.. then the McMansion.
Johnny One Five, thanks for the tip regarding video editing on the Mac.

At 12:35 PM, Blogger Bistro said...

I have always had good fortune in letting the wheels turn themselves and trying make intelligent decisions. Hopefully, by doing this, things will work themselves out. Currently I'm just trying to develop a menu and concept for a restaurant that can support a 6-10 dollar price point but still turn a decent profit so I can start growing.


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