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Running a Restaurant/Taking over a mid night moveout restaurant?

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Question
Hi, first and foremost, I have really appreciated the wealth of knowledge on this site.
Now for my question.
We have a local Pizza / Sportbar that opened recently.
It was a busy place located in a bust shopping center.
Then one day it just shut down. Doors closed with a sign saying it was shut down and for no-one to enter.
Well, last week I noticed a lease sign.
I have always wanted to put my focus and skills into my own business and took this as a sign....could this be my opportunity?
I called the leasing office and they stated to me that the owner did a midnight moveout and left the place as it sits. He basically took the big screens, one of the pizza ovens....and ran off. Its pretty close to a turn key place.
Here's my issue's. I have ZERO money to take this thing over. I have zero experience in the restaurant business. And I am just lost on how to even start.
Do you think you could help point me in the right direction? My plan of action is....
-Chamber of Commerce
-Leasing discussions about terms, if all equipment is included, etc.
- Business plan (for direction and to help show the bank I am serious.....I would expect having to take out some type of business loan to get this thing off the ground even if it is turn key)
-NEXT??

Answer
Hi Oris,

I have some HUGE concerns that you need to think about before even considering moving forward with this.

FIRST.  The lack of experience is really, really troubling.  A restaurant is a complex business.  Add to that the bar element and it is even more complex.  Even an experienced owner/manager can lose his or her shirt unless they have the proper planning and controls in place.  Banks and the SBA are not usually open to making loans to an inexperienced operator.

SECOND.  No capital to invest.  Another red flag for a lender.  They want you to have some "skin" in the game so that the first time things get tough you won't bolt and run like your predecessor did.  

These are the biggest concerns I have.  Next would be finding out WHY the previous owner failed.

You are correct in that putting together a business plan is one of your primary steps.  It may be a moot point if you are not able to secure capital.  Even if the space were turnkey, you would need operating cash, funds to secure licenses in your name, funds to incorporate, funds to have us or someone like us to prepare your business plan, funds to prepay sales tax, buy liquor inventory, pre-pay insurance, rent, etc.  You are looking at needing at least $100k and possibly more to go into this even partially prepared.

My advice to you is to pass on this opportunity.  If you truly want to be an entrepreneur and own a restaurant/bar, go to work in one first.  Learn how to serve, tend bar, cook, and manage.  You may discover that you truly have the passion and the talent to do it or you may discover that the demands are more than you want to take on.  It is a MUCH better lesson learned from an employee's point of view than an owner's point of view.

I hope you don't think I am being negative.  If you still want to move forward with this, we can be an invaluable resource.  Feel free to contact me for a no pressure, no obligation phone call.  Send me an email and we can set a time to talk!  We work with entrepreneurs across the country and have an extremely good record of success.

Keep me posted either way!

David Foster
dfoster@fosterandassociates.net
(417) 877-0428 office
(417) 849-1903 cell  

Running a Restaurant

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David Foster

Expertise

We have been in the restaurant industry for over 40 years and consult with restaurants, casinos and hotels nationwide. We love helping restaurant operators succeed and can answer any questions related to restaurant start-ups, business plans, operations, labor costs, food costs, liquor costs, employee turnover, marketing etc.

Experience

I am a seasoned foodservice veteran with nearly 42 years experience in the industry. My extensive background includes overseeing multi-unit, multi-concept restaurant operations ranging from cafeterias to fine dining, and everything in between. I have a strong hands-on operations and marketing background that give me a unique insight into the “Real World” challenges of the restaurant industry. I have extensive concept development, menu and recipe development and kitchen layout and design expertise. I am effective in analyzing operational needs and identifying practical solutions in today’s very dynamic foodservice environment. In the industry, I am respected by my peers and have served on the Board of Directors of the Missouri Restaurant Association and have been a featured speaker on the subject of Home Meal Replacement at various national events. I also served on the Culinary Advisory Board of the Ozark Technical College as well as serving on the Board of Directors of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Ozarks.

Organizations
Member of the National Restaurant Association, Past Board Member of the Missouri Restaurant Association, Past Board Member of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Ozarks

Publications
The Consultant, Seasoned Views (a trade magazine for the restaurant industry)

Education/Credentials
Attended Drury College, Springfield, MO, Varsity Management, SRI

Awards and Honors
I have had restaurant projects featured in The Consultant (a magazine for foodservice consultants with worldwide circulation). I was honored for achieving the highest level of management competence by the Selection Research Institute.

Past/Present Clients
Sugar Creek Casino, Classic Rock Coffee Company, Mark Twain Brewing Company, Springfield Brewing Company, Bruegger's Bagels, M&M Grill, Paco Joe's, Holiday Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Buffalo Run Casino, Golden Corral Corporation, Crosswinds Café, Chinese Chef, Mr. Dunderbak's Old World Market & Café, Bullfeather’s Wings and Grille, Mainstreet Market, Bear Rock Café, Cartoon's Oyster Bar & Grill, T's Redneck Roadhouse, Jim's Steakhouse, Neighbor's Mill Bakery & Café, Crazy Vine, San Francisco Oven, Maria's Mexican Restaurant, Andy's Frozen Custard, The Granite Club, Umi Japanese Steak, Seafood and Sushi, Springfield Grocer Company, US Foodservice, Premium Standard Farms, Smithfield, Dakota Organic, Kraft Foods, Allens, Inc.

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