Hello To All

I have been viewing many of the great threads of the Think Tank over the last few days. Just wanted to say thanks to the posters here that take time to share their insight and advice with each other. I have already learned a lot.

I am very new to the food business but trying to learn. I have been engaged in the retail construction business for the last 25 years and have been considering a change of track for several years now. My experience is in the hands on fabrication of laminate millwork, venting, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, interior and exterior finishes, electric sign manufacturing including neon, graphic arts, layout, space planning, permit procurement, and design. I am a licensed master electrician in 3 states, I hold a current general contractor license and sign contractors license in 6 states. My signs are UL listed in my own shop. I own a full shop with metal shears, brakes, welders, CNC router, vinyl sign plotters, large format printer, woodworking equipment, skid loaders, backhoe, bucket truck, billboard truck, box truck and pickup trucks. I have drawn, permitted and built approximately 40 restaurants over the last 25 years for some of my customers. My normal scope of work is the complete interior and exterior renovation of existing spaces including signage and advertising to create a place of retail business.

I promise, I am not here to solicit work. I give you this info just to tell of my background.

The condensed version of the change I mentioned will go something like… instead of building stores for others, I am going to start developing for myself but I am going to start small, with a single location and see it work. I am VERY confident that I have what it takes to design and implement a facility that will bring in customers in the markets I am sighting… But, other than what I have read on the internet, and discussed with my customers here and there, I know almost nothing about running a restaurant.

I know very well my background and my toolbox gives me a substantial advantage over other restaurant competitors in my areas. Many of the items they have to pay full cost for… and big money for… are just materials and labor at cost to me. I hold a great advantage in that I can open quicker and likely cheaper than most anyone else trying to do the same… but what then? So I am here to learn how to hit the ground running.

I am trying to process all the info contained herein but if you folks see me ask a question that’s been asked before. I thank you in advance for patience with me… and I thank you for any help.

Hello maybe,There are many of us w/independent joints that do or did most of our own work on or in our places.This is certainly a big help having the ‘construction’ knowledge but Faaaaaar from whats to come my friend.This is probably the worst time in many years for anyone especially one w/ no knowledge of this business to get into right now.Sorry to be a bearer of bad news but it is what it is.I hate to see someone waste a lot of time and mostly money.But if you decide to do it,I do wish you the best of luck and many Q and A’s in the tank are an excellent source.


The knowledge you have in buildout will help you a lot and save you money. The most important experience you have, though, is what you have learned running a business. Keeping track of costs, managing employees and timelines and meeting the expectations of customers in your past business will give you a leg up on most of the people that get into this knowing all about dough but nothing about business. Pizza is not rocket science and solid busines skills are rarer and harder to aquire than kitchen skills.

It would be a good idea to go work for another shop for a while to learn the basic skills and rythems of the business. You will pick them up quickly enough.

Do you have a location ? If so, what is the square footage?

Do you have a tested menu?

Your experience with contracting is huge. After you’re built and working many (most) hours a day, how do you plan to manage your life?

What day of the month are meals/room taxes required to be filed and paid?

In terms of employment; What signs must be posted at your location?

When you do your payroll, will you utilize a service or do it yourself?

When you order your product, what vendors will you use?

In terms of freshness, how will you rotate your product?

Have you had experience with a commercial slicer?

Have you been trained in safe food handling?

Do you know how to make dough?

Do you know anything about this industry other than building a shop?

A few of many questions…something to ponder.