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Old 04-23-2018, 02:17 PM
steronz steronz is offline
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Why are there so many restaurants? (or, Doesn't working in a kitchen suck?)

I've been watching a bunch of old episodes of Kitchen Nightmares to pass the time (I'm ashamed, don't worry) and I'm amazed at the number of people who seem to dream of owning a restaurant some day. Even successful restaurants don't seem to rake in a lot of dough, at best the owners/executive chefs can have a middle class lifestyle. The work seems repetitive and tedious (food prep, quality control, cleaning, making the same 12 dishes over and over again), the environment seems miserably busy and hot, and the hours aren't good. And yet, based on the wealth of independently owned restaurants in my area, there seems to be no shortage of people willing to take on this lifestyle. What am I missing? Is it fun?
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Old 04-23-2018, 02:53 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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I think people who are into food get a lot of pleasure from seeing others enjoy what they prepare. Like musicians or stand up comics, the lifestyle sucks but the applause makes it worthwhile.
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Old 04-23-2018, 02:53 PM
elbows elbows is online now
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Look around, some people were born to be hosts! They adore entertaining. Make everybody feel at home. Ensure they have a great time. Get them good food.

(And it IS fun...at times. However an unending number of things can kill a perfectly well functioning restaurant, but while itís working well, it feels awesome!)
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Old 04-23-2018, 03:19 PM
Filbert Filbert is offline
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There are plenty of people wanting to take on the lifestyle, but the burnout and turnover rate can be crazy high. I was talking to a chef friend at the weekend; he started working in his current place 11 months ago. There were 20 staff there when he started, which is also when it opened. Out of that 20, there are two of them left. The average age in the industry, at least in this country, is probably a bit under 30.

I've only done waitressing and a little KP work, but I can agree with what elbows says; when it's good, it feels great. A shift that goes well with a team that works well together feels amazing, just like a show performance. It's intense, exhausting, and when it goes badly, it can go really badly, and it's not what I would want as a career, but having paddled in the shallow end of the industry for a year or so, I can understand the appeal.

And maybe, just maybe, you'll be one of those who makes it big... Maybe it'll be your place that gets the rave reviews, the TV show, the book deal...
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Old 04-23-2018, 03:27 PM
DCnDC DCnDC is offline
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When watching those shows I'm always amazed at how far they can get without knowing anything about restaurants, food, cooking, or business. I smack my forehead every time the host asks what a given dish costs to plate and they just stare back, blankly. This isn't stuff you need an advanced degree to figure out, it's just basic arithmetic and it's obvious they never even thought to do it!
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Old 04-23-2018, 03:36 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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I once read that three out of four independently owned restaurants end up going out of business within five years.
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Old 04-23-2018, 03:57 PM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I once read that three out of four independently owned restaurants end up going out of business within five years.
In NYC it's not within 5 years. It's about 6 months.
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Old 04-23-2018, 04:03 PM
Tired and Cranky Tired and Cranky is offline
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Some unassuming restaurant owners do quite well. By all appearances, my uncle is one such person. His little restaurant doesn't look like much but he owns the building and the food store next door. He lives in a nice neighborhood, drives nice cars, owned a couple nice boats, and has a great house on the water. His kids went to good schools and colleges. His apparent success has lasted over 50 years, so I don't think it's a fluke or that he's living on borrowed money. His kids now run the business, which is as busy as ever. They are also seemingly making a pretty good living. My college classmate's father also did exceedingly well running a few independent doughnut shops.

For some people, running any business means that they have a guaranteed job and can extend working opportunities to family members. I have known immigrants who started restaurants because finding work was tough. It's not too hard to understand how a restaurant generally works so it's an accessible business to begin. If they staff leanly, rely on family, and work hard, they can at least guarantee they will be the last person laid off. They may not make a fortune but they make a living.

Another guy I know loved the creative aspects of the business. He studied culinary arts, worked in other people's kitchens for years, and then bought a diner so he could run his own shop. He realized the hours were killing him and he could only eke out a tiny profit by working 80 hours per week. He was probably only netting roughly what he made as a line chef at a good restaurant so he quit pretty soon after opening. He lost a bunch of his mother's money.

Finally, I knew two other guys who each loved to entertain at fancy restaurants and wanted to run their own. Both were professionals - one a lawyer, the other a real estate agent. They each opened nice restaurants with similar ambitions and similar plans. They each relied on their expertise to manage that part of the business, relied on business contacts to drum up customers, and they hired good chefs they knew to run the back of the house. Each used the space to entertain clients and throw fun parties. The real estate broker had the benefit of identifying a good location, negotiated fair rent, and decorated it nicely. The lawyer knew how to structure the business contracts. In the end, the real estate broker's restaurant failed during the housing recession in 2009. Maybe the recession killed both of his businesses at the same time or maybe the restaurant was always losing money but the real estate downturn hurt his ability to subsidize its losses. The attorney's restaurant did great throughout the recession (with a hipper atmosphere and better-reviews). He opened another very nice restaurant with the same chef and he seems to be doing great.
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Old 04-23-2018, 04:05 PM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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I would think that restaurant ownership might have particular appeal to immigrants and the children of immigrants, as a relatively straightforward way of leveraging their life experience into a (hopefully) money-making venture.
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Old 04-23-2018, 04:31 PM
Leo Krupe Leo Krupe is offline
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I think both Fear Itself and elbows got it right. For some, it's fun and worth it. I knew a guy who bought a restaurant in a divorce settlement (the previous owner lost it in the divorce), and the new owner busted his ass 12-15 hours a day, at least 6 days a week, if not 7. Within 10 years, he owned three restaurants and a catering business, and as far as I know, retired by age 40.

Some people love being police officers, some people love being construction workers. Hell, some people even like going into the mortuary sciences (I'm not saying they're creepy or immoral, but it's a service that people need, and so some people enjoy helping others in that regard). Some people love (the idea) of owning a restaurant.

Of course, the Food Network celebrity chefs make it all seem glamorous. We know differently.

Last edited by Leo Krupe; 04-23-2018 at 04:32 PM.
  #11  
Old 04-23-2018, 04:32 PM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
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I think one of the key mistakes that a lot of new restaurant owners is trying to be too many things to too many people, with large, bloated menus (a common mistake on Kitchen Nightmares) that increase loss in spoiled food thrown away and make customers and kitchen staff have a harder time making choices or executing the food.

Family owned ethnic restaurants seem to do well due to focusing in on food from their country, and trying to just do that well. Most restaurants (that aren't sports bar chains) should have a menu with like 4-5 apps on it, 3-4 salads, maybe a soup and about 6-7 entrees and that's it! Focus on what you can do well, and just do that.
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Old 04-23-2018, 04:51 PM
Beckdawrek Beckdawrek is offline
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My son-in-law is a professional chef in New Orleans. He's worked on casino boats and independent restuarants. He makes great money. The boats have decent benefits for employees. He would love to have his own place. He reports that it's hard, hot and long hours. His feet are screwed up. It's a bitch around holidays when everyone's partying and you're stuck in the kitchen working. But he loves it. He was telling us alot of chefs and line cooks are heavy drinkers.
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Old 04-23-2018, 05:14 PM
Leo Krupe Leo Krupe is offline
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Originally Posted by FoieGrasIsEvil View Post

Family owned ethnic restaurants seem to do well due to focusing in on food from their country, and trying to just do that well.
That's interesting, and something I wonder about. In my area, small, apparently family owned ethnic restaurants (Mexican and Chinese) come and go as fast as any other non-chain places. Which is to say, if they open in the spring, get there soon, because they'll be gone by Christmas.

I have no idea why, other than guessing that the locals here just don't like small places. The national chains, regardless of type of menu, last for decades. (There are exceptions, of course, but this is as a rule where I live, and of course, would be different for other locales.)
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Old 04-23-2018, 05:45 PM
N9IWP N9IWP is online now
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My brother started a restaurant. He worked long (80+ hour) weeks for months. He had a wealthy backer so at least he didn't have to worry about that aspect.
Restaurants are hard. You have inventory with limited life. Since so many go out of business you will likely have to pay for stuff in cash
Since a lot of restaurant work is low pay you may not attract the cream of the crop (if you pay well your menu prices have to go up which may detract patrons)

Brian
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Old 04-23-2018, 08:17 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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When watching those shows I'm always amazed at how far they can get without knowing anything about restaurants, food, cooking, or business. I smack my forehead every time the host asks what a given dish costs to plate and they just stare back, blankly. This isn't stuff you need an advanced degree to figure out, it's just basic arithmetic and it's obvious they never even thought to do it!
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I once read that three out of four independently owned restaurants end up going out of business within five years.
Putting a delicious meal together, running a kitchen, and running a business require three very different skill sets. #3 is what gets most restaurants in trouble... and most small businesses in general.
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Old 04-23-2018, 09:08 PM
ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is online now
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From the POV of the non-owner kitchen line worker, server, busser and dishwasher, the skills needed to work at most restaurants are very transferable. Don't like the manager at Olive Garden? Do the same job at IHOP. Don't like the hours at IHOP? Get thee to Denny's. It is hard work but but you can be gainfully employed for a very long time with very little skill to start and no education, with the ability to move towards management from anywhere in the restaurant. You can use line cook experience at a national chain as a jumping-off point to culinary school, or just a classier restaurant or both.

I worked in a restaurant/catering company for years when I was a teen and in my 20s. It was super fun as a kid (but still very hard work), kind of like summer camp with food. I was just a prepper and a plater. The head chefs we worked with were all stoners and alcoholics but they did in fact have a passion for food and did have culinary degrees, and skills involving the business end of things.

None of my chefs ended up opening their own places, except the baker who went on to own his own shop. Some chefs went on to bigger and better restaurants, some ran after those stable jobs at hospitals and nursing homes, one guy floats around and has a different odd job every few years (chef at a pasta company, chef for a monastery, chef on a yacht). I think some of them still do catering.

Anyway my point is that food service may not be lucrative for everyone, but there's a lot of ways to work in food service and if nothing else, it's not a bad way to fill up one's resume. People gotta eat!
  #17  
Old 04-23-2018, 11:26 PM
suranyi suranyi is offline
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Originally Posted by Leo Krupe View Post
That's interesting, and something I wonder about. In my area, small, apparently family owned ethnic restaurants (Mexican and Chinese) come and go as fast as any other non-chain places. Which is to say, if they open in the spring, get there soon, because they'll be gone by Christmas.

I have no idea why, other than guessing that the locals here just don't like small places. The national chains, regardless of type of menu, last for decades. (There are exceptions, of course, but this is as a rule where I live, and of course, would be different for other locales.)
My father-in-law owned and operated a Chinese restaurant in Chicago for decades, apparently very successfully. He sold it when he retired.
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Old 04-24-2018, 12:26 AM
kenobi 65 kenobi 65 is offline
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My father-in-law owned and operated a Chinese restaurant in Chicago for decades, apparently very successfully. He sold it when he retired.
The two Chinese restaurants near me have both been in the same families for the 22 years that I've lived here, and one of the two goes back to the 1960s with that family.

(And, yeah, some of the decor clearly dates from then. But, the food is great!)

Last edited by kenobi 65; 04-24-2018 at 12:26 AM.
  #19  
Old 04-24-2018, 12:39 AM
Chimera Chimera is offline
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But as an outsider, NEVER invest in restaurant stocks.
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  #20  
Old 04-24-2018, 06:37 AM
kiz kiz is offline
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It's a career/lifestyle that's not for everybody. I cut my teeth in the restaurant business. Because the business itself is volatile, the pay varies, and it's nothing to quit one place and start at another the same day, the underlying stress of that coupled with the stress of working in a hot, busy kitchen leaves a lot of wannabes in the dust.

As a result, a lot of culinary people like me turn corporate. It's stress of a different sort but it offers a steady paycheck, benefits, and PTO. You rarely get all three in the independent restaurant business.
  #21  
Old 04-24-2018, 07:49 AM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
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Originally Posted by N9IWP View Post
Since a lot of restaurant work is low pay you may not attract the cream of the crop (if you pay well your menu prices have to go up which may detract patrons)

Brian
It all depends. In Cincinnati here, for a small city we have a LOT of great (foodie/fine dining) restaurants, most of which are at least in part chef-owned.

Our most famous local chef is Jean-Robert de Cavel, and his chef tree that he spawned at the Maisonette (the longest running Mobil 5 starred restaurant in history) is strong and vital in the city. What really happens here is that you generally get a loyal staff of younger culinary grads that work for shit pay in order to learn from the best chefs. It's pretty common in the industry, actually. Then those young garde manger troops go on to be someone else's sous chef for awhile, or chef de cuisine before finally becoming a head chef for someone else for good money (but still long, hard hours) or getting investor help to open your own place.

link to maisonette: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Maisonette

Jean Robert (who is like, the kookiest, coolest dude ever): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Robert_de_Cavel
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Last edited by FoieGrasIsEvil; 04-24-2018 at 07:53 AM.
  #22  
Old 04-24-2018, 08:50 AM
Urbanredneck Urbanredneck is offline
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My neighbor was and what he said was it WAS a geat job because you can always find work anywhere you want to move to plus all the great experiences. He says he still gets calls from rich people who want him to cook on their yachts.

He said its all good until you hit around age 40.

Then he said most chefs just get burned out on all the long hours and they cant stand to even look at food anymore. So for him he switched to a career in real estate and he says he gets calls from alot of chefs who also want to quit and switch to a different career.

So bottom line, its a great skill when you are young because you can always find a job. But hit age 40 and have a family and want a regular life - time to change.
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Old 04-24-2018, 08:55 AM
Urbanredneck Urbanredneck is offline
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Almost every good BBQ restaurant I know has done well. BUT, they have to have good food and service.
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Old 04-24-2018, 09:13 AM
Leo Krupe Leo Krupe is offline
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The two Chinese restaurants near me have both been in the same families for the 22 years that I've lived here, and one of the two goes back to the 1960s with that family.

(And, yeah, some of the decor clearly dates from then. But, the food is great!)
Same where I live. There are several Chinese restaurants that have been around for decades. That's why I don't deal in absolutes. And I did say there are exceptions where I am. It's just that *most* Chinese and Mexican restaurants near me (and pizza places too) come and go quickly.

Oh, and used car lots near me do the same thing. They come and go, usually in the same lot. Different names, and sometimes different businesses (one small lot was a used car lot, then a temporary staffing agency, then another car lot (it went out of business), then another car lot, even a used tire lot (that lasted about 8 months).

Frankly, it's those who stick around for years and never do any business I worry about (where's that thread about mob fronts?).
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Old 04-24-2018, 09:39 AM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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But as an outsider, NEVER invest in restaurant stocks.
I understand the sentiment, but plenty of restaurant stocks (Darden, Ruth, Texas Roadhouse) have doubled over the last couple of years. I do note that Famous Dave's and Noodles and Co. have cratered, which gives me some hope for humanity.
  #26  
Old 04-24-2018, 09:53 AM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
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I think one of the key mistakes that a lot of new restaurant owners is trying to be too many things to too many people, with large, bloated menus (a common mistake on Kitchen Nightmares) that increase loss in spoiled food thrown away and make customers and kitchen staff have a harder time making choices or executing the food.

Family owned ethnic restaurants seem to do well due to focusing in on food from their country, and trying to just do that well. Most restaurants (that aren't sports bar chains) should have a menu with like 4-5 apps on it, 3-4 salads, maybe a soup and about 6-7 entrees and that's it! Focus on what you can do well, and just do that.
This. When I was in San Jose thirty years ago The Velvet Turtle chain was a big favorite,* especially with the women in the office. I got inveigled into eating lunch there, and the lunch menu was huge, at least twenty entrees. When I got to studying it to see how they could do this, it struck me: There wasn't a single entree that could not be frozen. A single restaurant could not do that.

*It started in Menlo Park and peaked at about 20 locations so non-Californians have probably never heard of it. They're all gone now.
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Old 04-24-2018, 10:14 AM
Johnny Bravo Johnny Bravo is offline
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I did a decent range of restaurant work in my younger years, and a lot of it is very enjoyable. The people (who are not the owner) tend to be very cool, the energy is electric, and if you're lucky enough to get into a position where you're making decisions in the kitchen, it is incredibly rewarding to watch people eat and enjoy and pay money for what you've created.

It's the last part that's the most compelling. I put serious thought into culinary school, but in the end decided that I don't have the right personality mix to make a serious go at the restaurant business. Years later I think it was 100% the right decision.

If a genie offered me that kitchen job back - the same work but somehow with a livable wage, my current retirement plan, and workable benefits - I'd take it in a heartbeat. But an actual career isn't in the cards for most people who work in restaurants, and getting to the point where it is a career requires many years of what is almost indentured servitude.
  #28  
Old 04-24-2018, 12:02 PM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
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and getting to the point where it is a career requires many years of what is almost indentured servitude.
This is at least partly true, especially in high end restaurants where people like you come in with ideas and ambitions fresh out of culinary school and many quickly learn that the old adage "Those who can cook, cook. Those who can't, teach." is at least partly true. Not that many culinary school teachers can't cook, but many can't necessarily hack the fast paced, high tension setting of the "yes Chef!" indentured servitude model.

But it can work out in many ways. My brother is a culinary school grad, worked as a roundsman at the Maisonette, worked in several kitchens, and now he's the head chef of the most prestigious country club in our region. His salary and benefits are good, the club is member owned and exists solely for the pleasure of the members and not for profit, so he never has to worry about food costs, labor costs, etc...as long as the members like his food. He still works a lot of hours, but he loves his work, and his wife is a corporate chef for celebrity chef Michael Symon in Cleveland, operating out of his flagship restaurant Lola, and she's doing really well, even if she's in Cleveland year round and my brother is here.

They have no kids, so they make it work and visit one another often. And their combined income is really good. They're socking away money to open their own place, a pizza joint of all things, in the coming years. I am sure with their combined acumen and HUGE group of friends in the business that they can make it work.
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  #29  
Old 04-24-2018, 12:08 PM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
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Also, one of my SIL's claims to fame (aside from providing all the cookies and pastries for the RNC convention in Cleveland a few years ago...and she's a Democrat, but that was the job) are the RIP cookies that she made for Lebron's Halloween party from 2016, which set twitter afire for a few days.

Link: https://www.mercurynews.com/2016/11/...oween-cookies/
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Old 04-24-2018, 12:09 PM
Johnny Bravo Johnny Bravo is offline
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people like you
  #31  
Old 04-24-2018, 12:18 PM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
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Sorry, poor phrasing. I meant the experience you referenced as to having gone to culinary school, presumably as a young person. Coming into an intense kitchen out of culinary school can be overwhelming for many people.
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Old 04-24-2018, 12:26 PM
Johnny Bravo Johnny Bravo is offline
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Ah, I see. To clarify, I did not go to culinary school. I thought long and hard about it but eventually decided that I don't quite have it in me to try and make a living as a chef.
  #33  
Old 04-24-2018, 12:30 PM
MichaelEmouse MichaelEmouse is online now
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Easy to get into, difficult to do it right.

Lots of people think: "I'd like to be my own boss" and "I like to cook" so "Why not make that my job?". Which is like thinking that since you like having sex being a prostitute should be fun.

The barriers to entry are typically quite low as far as businesses go. This makes for a lot of incompetent entrants who never really had a chance. Even the ones that do have a chance have to split the available demand while contending with largely young unskilled employees, perishable materials and customers who are impatient, fickle and have a readily available substitute in making their own food. Apparently restaurants which are part of a franchise do better, presumably because you're starting out with better capitalised and prepared entrepreneurs who are given brand recognition and a long list of SOPs by HQ.

Last edited by MichaelEmouse; 04-24-2018 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 04-24-2018, 01:29 PM
Orwell Orwell is offline
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Easy to get into, difficult to do it right.

Lots of people think: "I'd like to be my own boss" and "I like to cook" so "Why not make that my job?". Which is like thinking that since you like having sex being a prostitute should be fun.
Nice analogy. I hear people say "wouldn't it be fun to own a restaurant (or bar)"? I always think "absolutely not". Just because you like to eat out or drink in a fun bar, or you like to cook or mix drinks doesn't translate into owning or running a business. A business with incredibly long hours, high-drama employees and non-steady demand. But, that's just me.

And why turn something you love (cooking, eating, etc.) into a chore/job? I like to cook, but I don't want to HAVE to do it all of the time. No thanks.

I just found out that a local restaurant sold. The same guy owned it for 30 years, and I doubt it made much money. But I heard that a couple in their early 60s bought it because they always wanted to own a restaurant/bar. I'm thinking they are nuts, and will find out how much work and how many hours are involved only after they've bought and run the place for several months. I wish them luck, and look forward to stopping in to see what they've changed, but I think they bit off a lot at an age where energy is in short supply.
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Old 04-24-2018, 01:44 PM
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The adrenalin and the casual sex more than make up for any issues. If I was younger and not married I'd be looking to pick up a few shifts right now.
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Old 04-24-2018, 02:21 PM
GargoyleWB GargoyleWB is offline
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My brother went into the restaurant/chef career for several years, and quit the life. He loved the technical side and the busy atmosphere. What ultimately made him leave were the people. His explanation was that 99% of the people are either assholes, screw-ups, no-shows, addicts, or good enough to soon leave for better work.

It's the best job in the world if you get a good crew of coworkers. 1st Law of Restauranting: You will never get a good crew of coworkers.
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  #37  
Old 04-24-2018, 03:27 PM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
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Nice analogy. I hear people say "wouldn't it be fun to own a restaurant (or bar)"? I always think "absolutely not". Just because you like to eat out or drink in a fun bar, or you like to cook or mix drinks doesn't translate into owning or running a business. A business with incredibly long hours, high-drama employees and non-steady demand. But, that's just me.

And why turn something you love (cooking, eating, etc.) into a chore/job? I like to cook, but I don't want to HAVE to do it all of the time. No thanks.

I just found out that a local restaurant sold. The same guy owned it for 30 years, and I doubt it made much money. But I heard that a couple in their early 60s bought it because they always wanted to own a restaurant/bar. I'm thinking they are nuts, and will find out how much work and how many hours are involved only after they've bought and run the place for several months. I wish them luck, and look forward to stopping in to see what they've changed, but I think they bit off a lot at an age where energy is in short supply.
Yeah. I think one of the bigger issues with people of means that decide it would be "cool/fun/whatever" to own their own restaurant often envision themselves hanging out much of the time, drinking in their bar, eating the food and maybe doing the books every week. They think "I'll hire the best chef and the best manager and sit back while the money starts rolling in!". Problem is many fold, but chiefly that they aren't involved or knowledgeable enough to really have a good grasp of how to oversee such a venture and often get taken advantage of by staff, fail to see warning signs, etc.

Malaise breeds itself and starts at the top, so owners need to be tough on themselves and on their staff when appropriate. If your staff constantly sees you getting drunk at the bar, they're going to take cues from you and fuck off too.

It's a common theme pervading Kitchen Nightmares with owners that don't also try to be the chef/manager, often with disastrous results.


Quote:
Originally Posted by GargoyleWB View Post
My brother went into the restaurant/chef career for several years, and quit the life. He loved the technical side and the busy atmosphere. What ultimately made him leave were the people. His explanation was that 99% of the people are either assholes, screw-ups, no-shows, addicts, or good enough to soon leave for better work.

It's the best job in the world if you get a good crew of coworkers. 1st Law of Restauranting: You will never get a good crew of coworkers.
The nightlife part of it when you're single and in your twenties and early thirties is certainly a draw. Everyone I have worked with by and large was of the "work hard, play hard" mentality. You fucked off after work, and not before then. It is also true that there are plenty of addicts, although most of that is alcoholics that get hammered every night after work, especially front end staff. I was one of those people for a lot of years.
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Old 04-25-2018, 09:46 AM
Serenata67 Serenata67 is offline
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My husband is a chef and, honestly, he doesn't have the personality/temperament for office life. He needs the fast-paced, creative type work that being a chef provides. Yeah, it's hard work. Yeah, it's crappy hours. But he genuinely loves food and loves that kind of an environment. It's where he thrives.

I worked for years in the front of house at restaurants (waitressing/bartending/hosting). I like the work in general; I like helping people have fun, etc. But I disliked the low, variable pay and terrible hours. Plus, I'm smart and I needed a career that used my brain more than remembering what kind of dressing to put on the side. I liked the restaurant life, but I wasn't called to it like my husband is.
  #39  
Old 04-25-2018, 10:29 AM
kenobi 65 kenobi 65 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FoieGrasIsEvil View Post
Yeah. I think one of the bigger issues with people of means that decide it would be "cool/fun/whatever" to own their own restaurant often envision themselves hanging out much of the time, drinking in their bar, eating the food and maybe doing the books every week. They think "I'll hire the best chef and the best manager and sit back while the money starts rolling in!". Problem is many fold, but chiefly that they aren't involved or knowledgeable enough to really have a good grasp of how to oversee such a venture and often get taken advantage of by staff, fail to see warning signs, etc.
My father was a small business agent with the University of Wisconsin Extension for several decades, and advised a lot of people who owned (or wanted to own) restaurants. He told me that what you describe was the single biggest issue -- people who have a romanticized concept of what owning a restaurant is like, and no idea of the amount of work that's really involved in it.

The other scenario he described to me is the restaurant that *is* successful, because the owner does put in the hard work and crazy hours -- but, once things have been successful for a while, the owner can get tired of killing themselves at their job, and decide to step back a bit, and entrust more of the day-to-day operations to managers or employees. What seems to happen way too often is that the managers either aren't as skilled as, or aren't as dedicated as, the owner, and they run a successful operation into the ground.
  #40  
Old 04-25-2018, 10:35 AM
CarnalK CarnalK is offline
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Originally Posted by Beckdawrek View Post
. He was telling us alot of chefs and line cooks are heavy drinkers.
Back when I was a line cook, we had just finished rocking out a very busy lunch and the owner comes back to the pass and says to us "Great job guys. I have come to realize that it takes brains to work the kitchen but clearly not the part of the brain that gets killed by alcohol."
  #41  
Old 04-25-2018, 11:50 AM
Chefguy Chefguy is online now
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Despite my username, I'm not a chef, just a really good cook. I enjoy the creativity and mastery of the art. My one experience in a commercial kitchen was when I was young and was a fry cook at a student union building. It convinced me that working in that sort of environment was way more stress than I needed, even though I mostly enjoyed it. Many people over the years have told me "You should open a restaurant!" Really? Based on what: that you liked the meatballs? I always just laughed and said "No thanks."
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  #42  
Old 04-25-2018, 12:18 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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I highly recommend Anthony Bourdain's early book, Kitchen Confidential, for an inside look at what a restaurant career is really like. He had a lot of pretty gritty experiences before ascending to be executive chef at Les Halles.

(PS I am a home cook, have never worked in a restaurant.)
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  #43  
Old 04-25-2018, 09:08 PM
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I did food service as a kid, one to the best jobs I've ever had. It was all "positive" interaction with people, and being 17, the money was fantastic! And the tips....
  #44  
Old 04-25-2018, 09:25 PM
longhair75 longhair75 is offline
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I worked in restaurants from age 14 until I left college to join the Carpenter's Union. I always enjoyed the kitchens, but the pay scale was pretty low. I still make my Italian salad dressing the way I was taught fifty years ago at a small Little Italy restaurant by a elderly Italian lady who spoke almost no English.
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  #45  
Old 04-25-2018, 09:44 PM
zombywoof zombywoof is offline
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there seems to be no shortage of people willing to take on this lifestyle. What am I missing?
Note that a LOT of the heavy lifting in restaurant kitchens in the US is done by immigrant workers - documented or otherwise - for whom it's presumably a better option than whatever they had where they came from.

Last edited by zombywoof; 04-25-2018 at 09:44 PM.
  #46  
Old 04-27-2018, 09:34 PM
Cub Mistress Cub Mistress is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by longhair75 View Post
I worked in restaurants from age 14 until I left college to join the Carpenter's Union. I always enjoyed the kitchens, but the pay scale was pretty low. I still make my Italian salad dressing the way I was taught fifty years ago at a small Little Italy restaurant by a elderly Italian lady who spoke almost no English.

are you going to share the recipe or just tease us?

I've only ever cooked in fast food, so that probably doesn't even count in this thread, but I distinctly remember the great feeling when a shift just clicked and everything hummed along like it was just mean to be... I can see how that feeling could lead into a lifetime of food service.
  #47  
Old 04-28-2018, 03:13 AM
jtur88 jtur88 is offline
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Because there are so many people who think they can make money in the restaurant business.

First and Last Rule: Goods and services are not marketed so people can have them, they are marketed so the seller can make money. That is ALWAYS the ONLY reason why a business enterprise exists.
  #48  
Old 04-28-2018, 06:05 AM
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You have to remember too that Ramsay's over-the-top swearing Hell's Kitchen persona is just that, a persona. He truly is a chef, knows his stuff, and want to help. Watch an episode of either Master Chef or the UK version of Kitchen Nightmares and you'll notice the difference.

My extended family sold their restaurant when they all knew they were on the verge of burning out. It's that type of industry.
  #49  
Old 04-28-2018, 07:46 AM
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It's also one of the few fields these days where a small, independent business had a niche. The Internet isn't really competition, and if you can produce good food you can compete quite well with the chains.
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  #50  
Old 04-28-2018, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cub Mistress View Post
are you going to share the recipe or just tease us?

I've only ever cooked in fast food, so that probably doesn't even count in this thread, but I distinctly remember the great feeling when a shift just clicked and everything hummed along like it was just mean to be... I can see how that feeling could lead into a lifetime of food service.
Friend Cub Mistress Simplicity is always best. One part red wine vinegar to two parts olive oil. Add freshly a minced garlic clove, a heavy pinch of finely minced flat leaf parsley, another of finely minced basil, crushed red pepper flakes to taste and just s dab of powdered sugar.
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