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View Full Version : Opening a restaurant - advice on the little things


Ahannif
09-17-2013, 02:05 PM
New to the forum and learning a lot from everyone's advice. We have just leased a building and starting the daunting and intense job of opening a small restaurant. We are pricing (oh the joys!) of every teeny tiny thing. We are in a lucky position to have financial backing. So with that said for a small casual dining set up we are in the debate of whether we should serve food in baskets or plates. I have only had personal experience with plates but am trying to decide if baskets are easier. I know it's a small detail but wanted to hear what other people thought. We are lucky that there is only one bbq restaurant within 20 minutes of us, there is a demand for the product and we are pretty close to two colleges one with a pretty prominent football program. We are working on having a menu just for tailgaters if they order ahead and deliver it to the area that day.. Right now the restaurant will only have about 20 tables and the menu is not too complicated. Any and all advice is greatly appreciated!!

davefan360
09-17-2013, 10:56 PM
baskets are cheaper and harder to brake but harder to keep looking new. Plates cost more, brake, but will stay newer looking longer. I like the metal baskets myself. have you ever ran, worked in or owned a restaurant? if you are that close to 2 colleges don't out price your market, but don't be the cheep place. I would get some smaples of the food out on football days. if it is good people will start to order whole butts and full slabs for there tail gate.

Pyle's BBQ
09-18-2013, 12:14 AM
If the choice is between plates and baskets, I would go with plates. They are easier to clean. I am using pie tins with a deli paper. They are cheap and were something different. There are also granite ware plates out there that would be durable. Do you have a budget in mind for dinnerware? I am looking for a link on the granite ware.

landarc
09-18-2013, 12:49 AM
I sure don't like the baskets, to me, they scream cheap food. I realize that plates have drawbacks, but, that is where you can get creative, maybe. When I see baskets and paper, I think there is no pride in the presentation of the food.

For BBQ, if the desire is to minimize table ware, then go with paper and claim you are doing it Texas style.

AZScott
09-18-2013, 01:20 AM
Close your eyes and imagine your restaurant. Go through every detail and you will answer your own question. If you don't already know what it's going to look like and how the food is going to look on the tables, figure it out now.

cpw
09-18-2013, 07:35 AM
I have no idea what the costs are, but there's a restaurant here that are using 1/4 sheet pans (I think that's the size anyways) with paper on top. I think that look would work well at a BBQ joint, without the worry about plate breakage.

Ahannif
09-18-2013, 08:22 AM
All great ideas thanks for the replies! Going to look into the metal look. We are trying to go for a nice casual dining experience. I have had a couple people around here say that the basket is a more "authentic" bbq dining experience so had considered it. I do like the metal baskets idea because I agree the plastic can look cheap. Any and all ideas or advice is welcome!

Ahannif
09-18-2013, 09:31 AM
baskets are cheaper and harder to brake but harder to keep looking new. Plates cost more, brake, but will stay newer looking longer. I like the metal baskets myself. have you ever ran, worked in or owned a restaurant? if you are that close to 2 colleges don't out price your market, but don't be the cheep place. I would get some smaples of the food out on football days. if it is good people will start to order whole butts and full slabs for there tail gate.
Yes have some restaurant experience but definitely different translating that into owning a restaurant. Great idea on taking samples! We are planning on a couple of tvs because of how big sports are in our area. As of right now we are planning on serving beer no liquor don't want to deal with the headache. But want to serve beer because what goes better with que than an ice cold beer? We have been lucky to be friends with a successful restaurant owner in our area who has been great on the advice and has helped streamline a lot. We like hearing everyone's opinions though bc we always learn something from em'.

WhatHappened
09-18-2013, 09:46 AM
I would go with baskets, the liners are cheap, and easy to switch out. It will cut you dish load down more than you can imagine. Plus the down crumble when they hit the floor. I actually always liked BB on metal trays. You can serve your sides in metal cups. I just always liked the looka nd feel of it. It really depends on the feel you are going for. What the rest of the restaurant looks like. If you will be offering anything like steaks, chops, or something, use a plate for that.

http://galvanizedpail.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=9&products_id=103&zenid=5inetsmdqhonkvh77t7nrne2u7

I have been in the restaurant industry for many years, and if you buy anything, buy a POS system. I know they are very expensive, but worth every penny.

Use atleast 3 food venders. Make sure they all show up around the same time, allowing a little overlap between them so the reps see each other. The reps have more control over pricing than you would think, and this keep them competitive. If yuo feel like one company is taking you for a ride, use the other company for everything for a couple weeks. The will feel the burn, trust me.

Make a detailed excel spreadsheet with par levels for your food orders. That way every time you are doing inventory for your food order, you will know what your par is, then all you have to do is keep track of what is on hand, and you will know what you need to order. This sheet needs to have everything down to napkin rings, and tooth picks on it. Never guess when filling it out, ALWAYS put eywes on your stock when filling it out.

If you will have liquor, you NEED cameras that you can log into at home, or form your cell. Trust me on this. It is all money, but it will be money saved.

Keep track of community events (concerts, marathons, anything going on in the area) and run specials. I would highly recommend running something with Groupon. Where I live we have one called Deal Chicken. If they have it where you are, use it.

My biggest advice is be the face of the restaurant, make people want to come back and see you. Spoil your serving staff, because they are what makes or breaks a restaurant. Don't run out of anything!!! With BQQ that can be tricky, so make sure to specify on the meanu that ribs are while supplies last. Have a board insude the door that says right off the bat that you are out of ribs, or brisket.

Best of luck to you.

WhatHappened
09-18-2013, 09:49 AM
I just saw above that you will be serving beer. If you have the ability, keep your beer selection rotating. Get a good beer supplier that has a unique selection. They will be a great asset. Don't just stick to Bud, Coors, and Miller. Have some fun with the beer. I am sure there is a craft beer club in the area. Throw them some food to help you pair beer with your menu. People love that.

cynfulsmokersbbq
09-18-2013, 12:09 PM
I have no idea what the costs are, but there's a restaurant here that are using 1/4 sheet pans (I think that's the size anyways) with paper on top. I think that look would work well at a BBQ joint, without the worry about plate breakage.

Snap a picture with your phone next time you are in there and post it here.

cynfulsmokersbbq
09-18-2013, 12:13 PM
I would go with baskets, the liners are cheap, and easy to switch out. It will cut you dish load down more than you can imagine. Plus the down crumble when they hit the floor. I actually always liked BB on metal trays. You can serve your sides in metal cups. I just always liked the looka nd feel of it. It really depends on the feel you are going for. What the rest of the restaurant looks like. If you will be offering anything like steaks, chops, or something, use a plate for that.

http://galvanizedpail.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=9&products_id=103&zenid=5inetsmdqhonkvh77t7nrne2u7

Make a detailed excel spreadsheet with par levels for your food orders. That way every time you are doing inventory for your food order, you will know what your par is, then all you have to do is keep track of what is on hand, and you will know what you need to order. This sheet needs to have everything down to napkin rings, and tooth picks on it. Never guess when filling it out, ALWAYS put eywes on your stock when filling it out.



What do you mean "par levels"
sorry, i understand your post completely except for this.
Thanks for your posts!

cynfulsmokersbbq
09-18-2013, 12:17 PM
Have you thought about tin pie plates? I have eaten off of them in BBQ joints before.
Also there is a restaurant at Lake of the Ozarks that serves all kid meals on a frisbee. Another one serves kids meals like fries, chicken strips, mini corn-dogs in a small plastic bucket w/shovel


http://www.katom.com/225-41110.html?zmam=29342707&zmas=1&zmac=32&zmap=225-41110&utm_source=googlebase&utm_medium=Adword&utm_campaign=CSE&CID=pla&kw={keyword}&gclid=CIvd-8is1bkCFeIRMwodJkIAHg


something like this, but they were a little more rustic.

cpw
09-18-2013, 12:44 PM
I pulled this off of their website.

Ahannif
09-18-2013, 01:05 PM
wow that looks awesome! you all have given us a lot of ideas and a lot of advice. MUCH appreciated!!

WhatHappened
09-18-2013, 01:29 PM
Par level is how much you want on hand. Lets says you want 3 cases of brisket on hand. 3 Cases would be your par level. So when you are taking your order, you would mark down that you have 1 case on hand. Does that make sense? Some food venders will help you set up your par levels, and they will just go into you kitchen, and make your order based off of the par levels you have set. I highly recommend against this.

WhatHappened
09-18-2013, 01:50 PM
I pulled this off of their website.


We used these trays at one of my restaurants, and they were great. Dixie makes a liner that fits them. Sysco carries he liners. You can have servers put the liners, and stack them ahead of time. They line just has to grab them, and plate them.

Ahannif
09-18-2013, 08:39 PM
Am trying to find the pans now I really like the pans as plates concept. It looks really different and stands out.

Bbq Bubba
09-18-2013, 08:59 PM
This is how we do it. This does very well and were semi upscale.

Ahannif
09-18-2013, 09:00 PM
Thanks it looks great! Where do you get your pans?

Bbq Bubba
09-18-2013, 09:53 PM
Thanks it looks great! Where do you get your pans?

We had Sysco find them for us.

landarc
09-18-2013, 09:59 PM
B-Side BBQ out here does the sheet pan and liner thing as well. I forgot about that, but, I love it for BBQ. Much better feel than a basket or plate for a BBQ place.

That is a 1/4 steel sheet pan, any baking supply store should be able to supply them in bulk, and for around $4 to $6 each. Not all that cheap, but, they do not break, rarely bend, survive the sanitizer easily and look better with age.

The Cosmic Pig
09-18-2013, 10:21 PM
B-Side BBQ out here does the sheet pan and liner thing as well. I forgot about that, but, I love it for BBQ. Much better feel than a basket or plate for a BBQ place.

That is a 1/4 steel sheet pan, any baking supply store should be able to supply them in bulk, and for around $4 to $6 each. Not all that cheap, but, they do not break, rarely bend, survive the sanitizer easily and look better with age.

Just curious; how many of those can you expect to be stolen by customers, on average? Is it a significant problem, restaurant owners? They do look nice, for sure!

Slamdunkpro
09-18-2013, 10:28 PM
One down side to Aluminum / Steel sheet pans. They act as heat sinks and suck the heat right out of your food.

Pyle's BBQ
09-18-2013, 10:46 PM
Have you thought about tin pie plates? I have eaten off of them in BBQ joints before.
Also there is a restaurant at Lake of the Ozarks that serves all kid meals on a frisbee. Another one serves kids meals like fries, chicken strips, mini corn-dogs in a small plastic bucket w/shovel

something like this, but they were a little more rustic.

I use pie tins at Saddles.

We used these trays at one of my restaurants, and they were great. Dixie makes a liner that fits them. Sysco carries he liners. You can have servers put the liners, and stack them ahead of time. They line just has to grab them, and plate them.

Quinton's on E Grand uses the 1/4 sheet pans for their plates.

One down side to Aluminum / Steel sheet pans. They act as heat sinks and suck the heat right out of your food.

I would find a way to keep the pans warm for service. I would think a heat lamp would work.

Ahannif
09-19-2013, 11:50 AM
Great idea on using the heat lamp definitely wanna keep your food warm. Gonna check Sysco out on finding them for us thanks!

Pigs on Fire
09-19-2013, 01:37 PM
Baskets, trays and anything else with that crappy paper in it SUCK. I tell every restaurant manager that has it.

A simple white plate is much better- for health reasons, durability and the customer will appreciate it.

As far as breakage, keep the trash out of your store and at Walmart...your plates will last just fine.

Pigs on Fire
09-19-2013, 01:39 PM
You can have servers put the liners, and stack them ahead of time.


Yep and then I get to eat off of a piece of paper that has been in contact with the underside of a tray/basket/etc.

Whenever I see them pre-stacked, I either leave or ask that a new piece of paper be used.

toys4dlr
09-20-2013, 02:26 PM
As far as loss goes, it will depend if you are Fast Cas or full service. We are fast casual and do our best to bus tables quickly, but customers like to help by throwing away plates, forks, side dish cup etc.


Amazing.

We use baskets for our kids menu stuff and some appetizers. Plates for everything else.

Bbq Bubba
09-22-2013, 05:19 PM
Just curious; how many of those can you expect to be stolen by customers, on average? Is it a significant problem, restaurant owners? They do look nice, for sure!

Have used them 3 years now and never lost a single one.

One down side to Aluminum / Steel sheet pans. They act as heat sinks and suck the heat right out of your food.

The paper guards against that.

Yep and then I get to eat off of a piece of paper that has been in contact with the underside of a tray/basket/etc.

Whenever I see them pre-stacked, I either leave or ask that a new piece of paper be used.

Really???
A plate that has been stacked by a dishwasher with wet hands is cleaner?

landarc
09-22-2013, 06:34 PM
Most places I see that are using either baskets, or trays are not stacking them out here. Maybe that is a Health Code thing, but, they use pre-cut sheets and slap the sheet onto the basket or tray at time of service.

If you are having a problem with sheet trays leaving your place, you need to bus faster.

woodpelletsmoker
09-23-2013, 05:15 AM
stainless steel food tray, 14" ex-works in China $5.

http://detail.tmall.com/item.htm?spm=a230r.1.14.23.8aAljO&id=15527254287&ad_id=&am_id=&cm_id=140105335569ed55e27b&pm_id=&initiative_new=1

This link is from China "eBay", I personally has nothing to do with the seller.
Just give you guys a reference

woodpelletsmoker
09-23-2013, 05:21 AM
second option, stainless steel with cover, deep 2", 11"x8.5"x2", ex-works China $8

http://detail.tmall.com/item.htm?spm=a230r.1.14.112.8aAljO&id=18068493203&initiative_new=1

Ahannif
09-26-2013, 08:55 AM
Wow got lots of ideas! Beginning the remodel now and meeting vendors. Amazing how fast it's all going, at least for now.

Pyle's BBQ
09-26-2013, 02:54 PM
Wow got lots of ideas! Beginning the remodel now and meeting vendors. Amazing how fast it's all going, at least for now.

Just remember we love pictures!

Ahannif
09-26-2013, 03:38 PM
Pictures as soon as the place is clean enough for a before picture. Worst part is it was sitting for AWHILE! Someone is coming tomorrow to help us with kitchen flow to maximize space. Will try to get pictures then. Right now the place is white walls, white floor and empty. NOT for long though!