You study the salt and pepper shakers when you go out to eat. You eyeball them to see if they are full, clean, what style they are. You compare them with salt and pepper shakers from other restaurants you’ve eaten at. You do the same thing with bread baskets, ramekins and other condiment holders. You are exercising your attention to detail, something crucial for any restaurant owner.
You see prices of food and can instantly calculate it’s food cost. Beef filet is on sale at your local grocery store for 2.99 per filet and you know that you would have to sell it for at least $9.96 per filet, to clear the standard 30% food cost. You do this without even thinking. You also critique menu prices at the restaurants you frequent, praising good food cost ($3.00 for a side of onion rings!) or thinking how they could improve their prices (They need to up their stuffed chicken breast, they’re getting killed on it).
The world looks like a restaurant to you. Remember the old Tootsie Roll commercials, Everything I think I see becomes a Tootsie Roll to me... (I realize I am dating myself, here). Well, that’s you, except that everywhere you go, you can see a potential restaurant. Every empty storefront you walk past, every empty building you drive by on your way to work, you envision a busy restaurant. It’s exciting to build a restaurant in your imagination, to breath new life into old buildings.
Your bookshelf includes books like Prune, Kitchen Confidential and How to Run a Restaurant for Dummies. Your leisure time is spent with the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Bourdaine, Paula Deen and any number of other famous restaurant figures.
You always leave a good tip. Now, lots of people say they are good tippers, but real restaurant people almost always leave 20% or more, even if the service or food wasn’t worth 20%. Why? Because they have been in the restaurant trenches and know how hard servers have to work to make good tips.
You write menus in your spare time. This is one of my favorite things to do. There are many ways to go about opening a new restaurant. Some start with the location, others with a catchy name. I always go for the menu. The menu drives the concept (at least in my opinion). Do you ever randomly jot down ideas for menu items? If so, you might be a restaurant owner.
You already have a name picked out. Lots of people have their children’s names picked out before they are even expecting a baby. The same is true of a restaurant. The name makes it so much more real. Of course, like with a baby, you may change your mind as the restaurant becomes a reality. But it is still fun to imagine!
You’re already planning your second restaurant. Dream big or go home, right? Are you so committed to the dream of opening a restaurant, that you actually have a second place in mind?
You only watch restaurant TV. Do you find yourself immersed in the food channel? Or watching shows like Top Chef, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, and the ilk? That’s fine. But remember, there is a lot of editing that goes into those shows and they gloss over the mundane, day-to-day tasks of running a restaurant.
You just can’t shake your restaurant dream. If, no matter how you (or others) try to talk you out of it, you can’t imagine NOT opening a restaurant, than you may have found your calling. Especially if you have worked in the business and know how hard it can be. If you are still undaunted, then there is nothing left to do but go for it!