You in a hurry? Then get going!
The mission to create your new pizza shop is still in its infancy, but it’s about to take its first steps.
You’ve found the right deal on a new building and used little to no money to buy it. Now, it’s pretty simple — open up. Sure, that’s easier said than done, but it drives me crazy to see someone buy a restaurant and take months or years to open it. Barring a total renovation of the space, you want to start serving customers.
If this is your very first restaurant, there is nothing wrong with taking over and performing the old “turnkey.” Literally turn the key to the front door and do not change a thing. Just start taking in money.
Following this method, I like to think of the familiar saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” At my first restaurant, I sold items from the former menu until all the products were used up and worked with the existing staff until I could properly evaluate them. However, right from the beginning, I tweaked things, such as the hours of operation. It’s possible the former owner, feeling pressure to sell, had set up shorter hours, but I like my stores to be open one hour earlier and one hour later than all competitors in a one-mile radius.
After the old inventory is exhausted, it’s a good time to start changing the menu. Then make a rule: Don’t let a day go by without changing at least one major thing in the restaurant. After the first six months, you’ll have changed about 180 things — it’s your restaurant now, not something you just bought.
Four days to doors open
What if you already have a menu and a brand, and the new restaurant is your second, third or just another location in a growing chain? Before the ink is dry, get someone ready to manage the store, and then it’s full steam ahead to open.
You aren’t thinking about elephants anymore, either. Now, it’s “Rome wasn’t built in a day… but maybe in a handful.” I’ve flipped an entire restaurant in four days. The key is to have everything lined up before you take over by creating a running list of everything that needs to happen to get it up to your standards. Have a hard deadline for opening and communicate it to everyone working on the project, including all contractors and any vendors providing new equipment. At this point, you should have already hired the new staff and had them training at another location, because now they’re getting to work, hanging signs, painting and cleaning the space.
As the cosmetic work continues, you must work with suppliers to get all the new product in the store, lining up delivery and making sure all the menu items (plus actual menus), as well as hardware such as utensils and dishes, are stocked up.
While you’re doing all of this in less than a week, there is one last major item to pay attention to simultaneously — marketing your grand opening. But we’ll save that for next month’s Building Blocks.
NICK BOGACZ is the founder and president of Caliente Pizza & Draft House in Pittsburgh. Instagram: @caliente_pizza