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Getting a wonderful new idea for a restaurant can be an exciting thing, but actually putting everything in place and starting the restaurant is somewhat more complicated.

 

From finding the ideal space and furnishings to ordering supplies, building a restaurant is a time consuming task that takes roughly 12 months from concept to opening day. Developing a realistic business plan is the first step to ensuring a new restaurant survives beyond its grand opening.

 

Knowing the local food scene is crucial in understanding whether a new restaurant is viable and warranted. Toronto, for instance, has a vibrant food scene that has been welcoming of diverse fare from around the globe.

 

 

Jameson Watermulder, a Toronto executive chef and former owner of Gluttons in Winnipeg, has some guidelines for new restauranteurs. In addition to his work at Gluttons, Jameson Watermulder also worked as an executive chef at Summerhill Market in Toronto, where he was able to expand Summerhill Market’s kitchen brigade from 15 members to 125.

 

Rule #1 to building a new restaurant: whether your customers want standard meals or something more exotic, a good chef can provide that for them.

 

Here are some additional guiding points:

 

Do Your Research

 

According toCanada Startup, knowing your industry, customers and suppliers inside and out is key to the process of starting any business. For a new restaurant, market research involves learning to know not only the neighbourhood where the restaurant will be located, but also the types of food that people are likely to buy.

 

Build a Menu Based on Prospective Customers

 

A chef can experiment with new tastes and styles of cooking, but only within the parameters of providing customers with what they want. Jameson Watermulder is known as someone whose “innovation and creation of new products was something that the country has not seen before,” but he is also someone who can turn out standard fare.

 

“A good chef is versatile and can cook standard meals or something more exotic with ease,” advises Watermulder. “They also recognize the wants and needs of their customers and play to them.”

 

The Toronto chef speaks from his years of experience serving small and large groups. “When I was a chef at Summerhill Market, we cooked thousands of turkey dinners every holiday season,” adds Watermulder. “We were well known for our turkey dinner, and patrons expected to see it on the menu.”

 

Design the Restaurant with Customers in Mind

 

A restaurant’s customer base will depend largely on the cost and content of its menu. If the restaurant serves mainly gourmet fare with high prices and a limited menu, it will naturally look different from a family-style restaurant that serves low-cost dinners for people who are looking for a quick and easy alternative to cooking at home. Customers at the former type of restaurant are likely to look for more elegant surroundings that at the latter, although a restaurant should always have a pleasant and appealing atmosphere.

 

Use the Customer Base to Develop the Restaurant’s Brand

 

For people who buy an existing restaurant or buy into a franchise, many of the decisions regarding the brand might already have been made. However, new restauranteurs can still make their own small adjustments to give a personal touch to the restaurants.

 

Maintain the Restaurant’s Basic Identity

 

Keeping customers is difficult for any restaurant, and the owners of these establishments might be tempted to follow each new trend in order to continue drawing people in. However, this may be a mistake, especially when a restaurant is very good at a particular kind of niche market. Before branching out too far from their original idea, restauranteurs should be sure that they want this kind of risk.

 

Jameson Watermulder adds a final note: “I believe the food should speak for itself. Creating a great ambiance is important, but restaurateurs who are always chasing the latest trend usually have little time to focus on building a distinct menu.”

 

Opening and maintaining a restaurant is a complicated venture, but it can be exciting. By following some of these guidelines, new restauranteurs can help ensure the success of their ventures.    

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