Path To New Restaurant

Thought I would just kind of share the journey as we open up our new place. For the last three years, we’ve run a nice little pizza place, but I’ve always wanted to do something bigger. The right opportunity came along this year and we jumped on it. It’s in an old lumber yard, so it’s got a lot of character.

Pictures here are a couple of the current store dining room, and a bunch of the new place. I’ll take some pictures of the courtyard and large dining room that we can rent from the landlord in 48 hr. blocks for special events.

https://picasaweb.google.com/116012914752416195488/OldNewStore?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCMuOivjW-6agCw&feat=directlink

Had the Fire Marshall and Code Services do a walk through with me last Friday and everything checked out great, even though the kitchen hasn’t been used for 5 years. The space had been part of the college bar that is in the same building, they downsized when their lease came up for renewal. Health inspector should be here Wednesday morning, I don’t expect any surprises from him.

That place has tons of possibilities. The kind of possibilities that swallow cash, though :shock: It could be a great place, and you have a passion to make it go. You see enough business to fill the place? If so, then it will look great!

Indie,

I love it. It could definitely be a money suck so sit down and brainstorm on cheap ways to make it your own. It’s probably a great way to revitalize the creative juices anyway. I know my business needs those idea sessions every few months…

If you take down that Jayhawk flag, sales will increase 40%. I could be biased from being a K-State alum though. :smiley:

Hey now! Don’t be talkin like that! :evil:

Well, I thought I’d be able to update this a little more, but’s it’s been 2 weeks straight of 20 hour days. It’s like a wild wild west shoot out getting staff, product, training, etc. in and in place and full of challenges. Did a dry run with family, friends and neighbors one night and then a soft opening last weekend. With a dining room that has 10 more seats than the old place, we were able to double our sales just through word of mouth.

Then the local paper did an article on us Wednesday and all hell broke loose. We’ve hit daily sales numbers that rival weekly sales numbers at the old place every day. Our front of house completely fell apart with the crush, but our kitchen took huge steps forward every night. I think we’re in good shape if that’s all the promotion we’ve done and we will get the customer service issue in hand really, really, really fast.

Now, if I could just get people to show up for their shifts…

All the best, its so satisfying when all your hard work pays off.

Any pictures of the new place completed? Hope everything is going well. :mrgreen:

I’ll get some pictures posted soon. Our new space is so cool, inside an old lumber yard, people are loving it.

Congrats Indie. I’m ready to see more pics. Do us all proud! Any changes in your product offerings for the new place? Can you let us know what the new restaurant has allowed you to do in that regard?

I feel your pain about getting crushed upon opening. All I can say is overhire like the big chains do at first. I don’t think a big opening is the time to try to find all perfect employees, just make sure you have warm bodies that can smile at guests. Once you’ve settled down, you can start stripping away labor by figuring out who the star employees are. Then you can start being more picky about who you hire.

I’m sure that will make some of the staffing gurus cringe, but I’ve been through it before and there is often no amount of interviewing and auditioning that will tell you who the stars will be with better than 50% accuracy. And, in the process, you kick out some potential stars because they didn’t nail an interview.

Sorry, just realized this turned into a staffing rant, but I have deep empathy for getting weeded on a busy opening and the #1 answer I’ve found is to overstaff. When the Olive Garden opened here, they had 30 servers on for the first 2 weeks - 2 table sections. There was no excuse for bad service. Love or hate the OG, they make money so I don’t mind taking some pointers from them…

Best of luck to you man, you deserve it!

You couldn’t be more right about over hiring and we really bungled that. We’ve seen several chain stores open in the last three years here and it never fails that we see a crush of applicants apply after they’re done with the openings and release the underperforming staff. We thought we would be a little bit more moral about it and hire a large staff, but not a staff that we would make huge cuts in. What we didn’t prepare for was the huge losses in staff that weren’t really interested in working or couldn’t handle the stress of opening.

The other mistake we made was to hire experience rather than people. We’re finishing a weekend packed with staff that we like, but didn’t have the experience we thought we needed and it has been a huge shift. Lunch today was a full house and, of course, our “experienced” server and host didn’t bother to show up. So, we had only two servers and both were on their second day. One held his own, the other absolutely killed it. She was serving, hosting for the entire place, pushing specials and made a lot of wine sales (during lunch!). Her only previous job was as a meat packer.

Our business plan is solid and we’re easily making our numbers. I’m excited to get everyone trained and get out of the kitchen and start focusing on turning some tables on the weekends. It is a ton of work (I’ve spent the last 6 weeks running 20 hour days), but I know where it will get our family when I get this all running smooth.

Also, pasta+sauce+protein is the most amazing business plan ever. I’ll take some pictures soon, our dining room is amazing…but really it’s the kitchen that is 10X the size of our old one and houses some of the best cooks in town that makes all the difference.

Hang on to the seat of your pants…you are in for a ride! :mrgreen: