Many food truck owners, food stall operators, and delivery-only services aspire to move their services under a new roof. However, starting a brick-and-mortar restaurant often requires years of experience, and eye for restaurant equipment, and some contractor connections.
How do you know when it’s the right time for an upgrade? Is it when you can consistently say you’re doing a great job? When you constantly produce quality work and have satisfied diners? Or is it simply “time?” Whether it’s happening in a timely manner or not, here’s what you need to know about making the jump.
Focus on commercial cooking equipment
Compared to smaller restaurant operations, a brick-and-mortar requires a lot more money to run smoothly. If you’re consistently cash flow-positive, that’s a good start. Take into account, for instance, whether or not you can pay for a commercial kitchen. Restaurant equipment, kitchen supplies, and commercial refrigeration all cost quite a lot. Even if you have a relationship with the business owners of a restaurant supply and equipment store, you may not be able to get all the food service equipment you need at a great price.
When you’re piecing together a commercial kitchen, you need to search for competitive prices without sacrificing workmanship or quality. Buying low-end commercial kitchen equipment and accessories will prevent you from doing an excellent job in the kitchen. Besides wholesale prices, quality product matters just as much.
Consider the location
Not only is the location paramount for attracting foot traffic but it’s also necessary if you’re looking for a great price on some real estate. Unlike your average homeowner, you’re probably going to be leasing a space.
Beyond that, you could choose a fixer-upper. For example, if you find a potential location that needs some cleanup, you may want to try to get some free estimates for cabinets, roof contractors, and your other food service operation needs. Say you live in the Portland area. An easy solution would be to search “professional roofing company in Portland, OR.”
In many cases, you’ll likely need to contact a construction company regardless of whether you’re working with a new space or an older restaurant that needs cleanup. Look for outstanding service, quality work, and great communication. Building a relationship with a contractor can help you for years to come.
Think about your brand identity
If you’re running a food truck or a cart that is popular in your local metro area, think about how it will translate to a larger space. Often, even if you have a great company and already have your hands on cooking equipment, you may be considered a niche or specialist brand. This happens in the catering business too.
Will your brand identity effectively carry over to that larger space? Will your outstanding customer service in a small location function in a brick-and-mortar? Will your food truck cooking pros be able to give all of their attention to a much larger kitchen?
By asking key questions about how your brand functions now and how it will function later, you’re already examining key areas of improvement.
Research the market
To make sure your beverage or foodservice business will remain successful once you make the switch to brick-and-mortar, you need to do some research. What is working with your competitors? How do their Better Business Bureau listings look? Do they provide exceptional customer service or is their customer service lacking? If you want to do a great job in your new space, you need to ensure you can beat the competition.
Making the leap to a brick-and-mortar restaurant means you need to pay particular attention every step of the way. Even if you have years of experience running a successful smaller business, a larger physical location has its own considerations. Keep your cash flow positive and make educated decisions. Hopefully, it’ll make your switch that much smoother.
Interesting related article: “What is Brand Management?“