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Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014
Food & Dining

Houck: How about a restaurant reality check?


Published:

A Facebook friend the other day threw out the following question:

"Should I open a restaurant?"

It's a common query for food lovers.

You know how it goes.

You go to a restaurant. You have a great meal. You drink a perfectly blended cocktail.

The restaurant has tasteful décor. The servers are polite and efficient. The throng of customers with whom you had to fight to get a table appear more than willing to part with gobs of money in exchange for hospitality.

"I could do this," you think. "All these people would come to my place. They would give me their money."

But it's a dicey business. Smarter people than you have lost big bucks trying to feed the general public.

Before you take the plunge, ask yourself if these situations apply:

If you think the easiest way to make $2 million in the restaurant industry is to spend $3 million, you might want to open a restaurant.

If you enjoy the flop sweat that comes from calling friends to beg for investment money and then calling again to ask for a little bit more, and then calling a third time because you kind of, sort of went over budget, you might want to open a restaurant.

If you thrive on the creativity it takes to name your eatery, only to be told the handle you chose means "Dirty Maggot House" in French, you might want to open a restaurant.

If you are convinced you have found the perfect location despite the fact it was featured on an episode of "Celebrity Ghost Stories," you might want to open a restaurant.

If working 100 hours a week seems like the start of a relaxing paid vacation, you might want to open a restaurant.

If you long for the free-flowing exchange of ideas on Yelp with people who shouldn't open their mouths and expose their faulty taste buds, you might want to open a restaurant.

If you've always wanted to be on "Food Network," even if it means having Robert Irvine walk through your door with a camera crew, you might want to open a restaurant.

If you enjoy seeing the name of your restaurant in the news because your seafood monger pranked you with a cod-like doppelganger instead of actual grouper, you might want to open a restaurant.

If you think a good night of entertainment includes watching your bartender on the security camera as he makes change for a $10 bill with three twenties and two fifties, you might want to open a restaurant.

If you crave the adrenaline rush that comes from seeing your chef quit on a busy night because "Mr. Mushroom" is back in town, you might want to open a restaurant.

If you embrace and welcome microbial-level inspections by health officials who write citations like a cannon shooting confetti, you might want to open a restaurant.

If you can look at a plate of steak, a baked potato and a side of asparagus and enjoy thinking, "I made 75 cents off that dish," you might want to open a restaurant.

If you like working on your feet all day, agreeing with customers who are wrong, using your house as collateral, filling in as the dishwasher/chef/prep cook/janitor, making sure the staff doesn't steal everything that isn't nailed down, dealing with frivolous lawsuits and maybe - just maybe - making a slim profit within the first two years, you might want to open a restaurant.

If you do, I wish you the best of luck. I'll be first in line waiting for a table.

I'll be the guy ordering the grouper. I think.

jhouck@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7324

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