The countdown has begun! You found the perfect property in your ideal location… and it was reasonably priced. Your dream is about to come true. You’re going to manage your very own restaurant. It will be your signature dishes highlighted in your carefully crafted menu.
While the food you serve will either have diners waiting in line or leave your tables as barren as the Sahara, there’s more to it. Managing a restaurant covers all aspects of the business, from inventory and purchasing to distributors and vendor payments, and you need to be prepared. To avoid being a restaurant closure statistic, savvy restaurant owners pay close attention to all aspects of their profitability. And the time to start is before your grand opening.
Getting a restaurant off the ground takes money. And it’s not just the front of house tables, chairs, decor, etc., your back of house needs attention too. Be sure your kitchen is properly outfitted so it can add to your bottom line.
Prep your kitchen
There’s a laundry list of items you’ll need for efficient back of house operations. Let’s start with some basics. When deliveries occur, you need a place to store the products you purchased. For items that need to be kept on ice, a freezer is needed. Other food purchases that need to be kept cool will require a walk-in cooler. Whether you purchase new or used, be sure they are equipped with automatic door closures. Also, use LED bulbs for lower electricity usage. Since restaurants use 3x – 5x more energy than any other commercial entity, you’ll want to conserve electricity everywhere you can.
Once orders are placed, your chef needs to be able to cook the meals to perfection. Depending on the type of food you’re going to serve, you may need one or more of the following.
- Convection ovens
This is another area where you can boost your profitability by cutting costs. Ovens and broilers consume the most energy, and you know what that means… higher electric bills. Convection ovens use less energy, and if you require broilers you can cut energy costs even further. Put processes in place to reduce idle time. And always make sure broilers are turned off when not in use.
Dinner is done and dirty dishes have been returned to the kitchen. High-efficiency dishwashers will do the trick. Again, you need to conserve where you can. And with dishwashers, it’s not only electricity but water consumption.
Next on the list is an ice machine. Older ice makers are not only energy inefficient but water hogs. When shopping for an ice maker be sure that it is energy star compliant, and if possible, purchase one that is air-cooled as opposed to water-cooled. This simple measure will save you tens of thousands of gallons of water every year.
Now that the larger purchases have been ticked off your list, let’s take a look at some of the other items you may need.
- Cooking and kitchen equipment: griddles, fryers, pasta cookers, immersion cookers, steamers, condensation hoods, heat lamps, soda fountains, blenders, toasters, and espresso machines.
- Food storage and work surfaces: countertop warmers, dry goods storage, cold food tables, steam tables, and prep tables.
- Cookware and more: pots & pans, cooking utensils, kitchen smallware, and foodservice tools.
Put technology to work
No restaurant is complete without technology. Key to your front of house operations will be a point of sale system (POS). Don’t stop there. The right, back of house software, will not only improve efficiency but help fast-track your long-term profitability.
- Inventory management: Track inventory with real-time statuses and alerts.
- Purchasing and order management: Place orders, check statuses and manage all of your vendors with ease.
- Cookbook software: Ensure meals are consistently prepared.
- Recipe costing software: Stay on top of your budget with a breakdown of each dish on your menu.
- Vendor payments: Gain better inventory control and improve cash flow.
- Accounting software: Update inventory and track price changes & credits for more efficient and accurate record keeping.
Now that you’re armed with a well thought out shopping list, you can face opening day with ease, confidence and a profitability head start.