We have the great pleasure here at One Fat Frog Restaurant Equipment of working with restaurateurs of all sorts of stature, but none gives a thrill like working with a start-up. They have a dream and we can help make it real. But it’s important to remember that the restaurant business, while potentially lucrative and a lot of fun, is not easy. In that vain, there are many ways to start up a restaurant, and one way is to take over an already existing restaurant. When you go to do this, it’s more than just seeing a “For Sale” sign and throwing down a wad of cash. There are important elements to consider in this process.
First off, always ask yourself this question: Why is the current owner selling the business? There are several reasons; they could be seeking retirement or are ready to move on to a new venture. More commonly, unfortunately, is the business might be failing and they’re trying to get out of it. If they’re having success, then that’s obviously good news for you; it gives you a great head start. If it’s not, well…you’ve got your work cut out for you. Either way, that question needs to be asked, and the answer is of utmost importance.
Once you’ve figured out the reason for selling, you should get a deeper look into the business. For starters, you need to see the books. Obviously, as hinted above, the business could be losing money. If that’s the case, you can find out where the money is being lost and perhaps you can find a way to fix it. It also gives you a good idea of what’s profitable and what’s not. Like if they spend lots of money on chicken and chicken is selling well, you should keep buying chicken. If they’re buying lots of beans and no one likes them, consider reducing the load of beans or cutting them out completely.
You should also get to know the location. And I don’t mean just the intersection. Understand the history of the building. If there was something else there, be it a different restaurant or a store or what have you, why did it go the way of the dodo? Perhaps there’s something about the neighborhood that doesn’t work. That goes back to understanding your clientele; you won’t sell fine dining to college kids or factory workers. You especially want to know if there are any problems with the building. If the air conditioner has a history of conking out at the first sign of sunshine, you might want to be aware.
When you decide to take over, you have another choice to make: keep the concept or just the location and equipment. If the business already has a good name and concept for itself, you may want to keep it. It certainly makes marketing a lot easier. But if the concept isn’t working, buy the building and the equipment and try something new. Remember that your clientele will help you decide what your concept should be, so it’s important to take that into consideration. Finally, make sure you get a good contractor and inspector to come and check the place out. The last thing you need is to find a bunch of problems that will cost a whole lot more money than what you originally started with, and they can help you find out.
By the way, if you do decide to take over an existing restaurant, feel free to bring by a sampler platter to the One Fat Frog warehouse. We would all be eternally grateful, and so would our stomachs.
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