How to Open a BBQ Restaurant? Is a BBQ Restaurant Profitable?

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Are you looking for the answer to the question, How about open BBQ Restaurants in 2021? If that’s the case, You are in right place.

Introduction

Did you type: Open bbq restaurant? How about open up a restaurant? If that’s the case, it sounds like you might want to start a restaurant business that serves barbeque?

On this page, “open bbq restaurants,” I will do my very best to discourage you from doing so! If, after reading this, you still want to- no need to “open bbq restaurant”, I will give you some pointers based on having owned 2 bbq joints: one in California and one in Idaho.

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So, why in the world do you want to own a restaurant? To get rich? To walk around the dining room glad-handing guests? To cook ribs because your friends say they’re the best they’ve ever had?

Wrong. Wrong and wrong.

Sorry.

There are many instances of wealthy restaurateurs, and walking around greeting is a gas, but there are far more poor restaurant owners than rich, and the greeting is just a tiny fraction of the job.

Also, we can all (or most of us) make a great rack of ribs if that is all we are doing. But how about training someone to rub your ribs and using a commercial pellet smoker? Or teach a high schooler how not to burn the sauce? To cook the brisket the right way? In a lot of cases, restaurant owning is more about manufacturing than cooking…

So I can’t dissuade you? Ok. Question: Have you ever worked in a restaurant? Do you know what is involved in owning one? No, I do not mean waiting tables in college- I thought that helps. I mean full time all the time. Be honest.

If the answer is “no,” I would encourage you to get a job in a restaurant for a bit. Work late nights. Take out the trash. Deal with customers. This is the real deal.

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Still, it’s a yes?

Ok, let’s get started with the basics. Later I’ll expand on the topic to go deeper on financials, menu planning, etc., as well as supply an “eBook” for sale that, while focused on bbq, can be used by non bbq entrepreneurs as well to answer the query: “open bbq restaurants.”

Hopefully, the lessons I have learned can steer you in the right direction, save you some money, perhaps, and heartache.

But for an overview, here are some thoughts. Unfortunately, many of these need to be done simultaneously, but I have tried to put them in chronological order:

1. Concept. What kind of food- in this case, BBQ, are you going to serve? Sides dishes? Other dishes for non- bbq lovers? Also, is this full-serve or quick-serve? Beer and wine? Typically, you should be able to describe your concept – especially to an investor-in an “elevator speech” – the amount of time it takes to ride up an elevator.

2. Find the money. This is, without a doubt, the toughest thing you will do. This is the old chicken and egg problem. The property first and then money? OR raise the cash first from investors, then find the property? I have seen it done both ways. Also, raise at least 6 months’ worth of extra money or working capital.

3. Location. Crucial. Where to open a bbq restaurant? I’m sure you’ve heard the adage “location location location.” Well, it’s true. Price should be a factor for you, but great sites command a premium, and in most cases, are worth it.

4. Demographics. Where do you plan to open? Is the location upscale? Can people afford to eat out? Also, what is the population density around your site? This goes hand in hand with the location. This is normally calculated in “rings” around your site of varying distances. Your realtor can sometimes supply these, or you can find them on the web. But, your success is going to be in large part to a high density of customers within a short distance from your site.

5. Form a business entity. What kind? Sole proprietorship? Corporation? Limited partnership? LLC? You will need to research this to find out the best one for you. Because of their tax treatments and limited liability, I have used the LLC format.

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6. Register your entity, dba, etc.

7. If you are going to buy land and build or remodel, you will need to find a decent contractor. But before you need him, you will need to:

8. Plan your menu to design your kitchen. Your menu will no doubt change, but the main core will dictate the kitchen equipment and layout. Do not skimp on refrigeration or freezer space!

9. Cost out your menu. This can be done using a fancy program, an excel sheet, or just a pad, pencil, and a calculator. This, along with your other costs, will help you:

10. Create a Pro-forma budget. Depending on your financing, you might need to do this at step 1 ½! The financing will also dictate if you need to make 1, 3, 5-year projections, etc. But at the very least, do a best and worst-case scenario. Take your worst-case and drop revenues down by 25% to see if you can survive.

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11. Develop your corporate identity through a qualified graphic artist. They are pricey, but nothing sets apart a real business from a mom and pop like slick logos, menus, business cards, etc.

12. Plan to have at least a week and the money behind it to tweak your menu recipes once you are in the space.

13. Plan to have at least 1 week to train staff and:

14. Plan dry-run practice sessions to train staff, tweak the recipes, and invite neighboring businesses to get the word out!

15. Well, before opening, talk to an insurance agent about your needs – liability insurance, workmen’s comp, business interruption insurance, etc.

16. Hire a bookkeeper, or at the least a payroll service. Trust me; you do not want to mess around with payroll! Or tax payments. Do what you do best.

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Also, an important question: Do people in your area know ‘BBQ? This is a tricky question. If they do, there is liable to be significant competition.

If they don’t – say your site is in Rhode Island or someplace not associated with ‘cue or doesn’t have the bbq love affair- then you will have to educate the public.

This is NOT EASY! It takes time, but it can be done. Of the two, I would go with an educated public.

Now, if you are still serious –good luck, and you know a little more about your query: open bbq restaurant!

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