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Old 11-01-2004, 05:18 PM   #1
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?? re starting a food business - help please

I have long had a dream of opening a small store front and sell home made entrees [maybe sides, maybe not] at a reasonable price, say 2 choices each day, then a freezer of 4 and 8 serving entrees to be thawed and reheated. I've been experimenting for years with the cooking for a month recipes and have found many that freeze well and are actually better afterwards...
Hubby wants me to do a market survey and work on a realistic business plan. We live in a very rapidly growing suburb of a large city and there are no great restuarants close, very few good ones so I think it's time to make my mark. I have lots of ideas, but no restuarant or catering experience, some business experience both independently and as a manager in a consulting business.
Those of you who have started a business, or investigated the possibility - please share your insight, websites and any books, courses etc that I need to look into.


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Old 11-01-2004, 05:23 PM   #2
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Having a restaurant would be a choice for me, but never actually did it. THe restaurant business is very difficult from what I hear. Wish I could offer advice but cannot but I wish you luck.


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Old 11-01-2004, 06:14 PM   #3
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thanks - I'm going to find myself in a position to get preference in a small loan situation, as hubby is about to be retired from the Air Force with a huge disability due to his heart attack this year and he's getting all the info on benefits for me. Not that his heart attack was a good thing, but since it happened and opened up the door for those opportunities, then I might as well take advantage. He's being very supportive - thinks maybe I can 'fill the void' in my professional life - since I'm not happy with my options at the moment!
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Old 11-01-2004, 08:20 PM   #4
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Hi JRs, you'll need a great location for your store front. One that is highly visible to foot or car traffic with ample parking space. With this much visibility, you'll save on marketing and advertising expenses. Also, with such a great accessible location, you will hopefully get a high enough volume of transactions to make money so you can pay off the rent, wages, electricity bill, etc., and still turn a profit.

Another option to putting up a storefront is just supplying other retail stores with your products from out of your house. You'll be into wholesaling then. The advantage here is that you won't have the weighty burden of selling enough everyday so you can at least make rent every month. You can produce according to the orders you receive from the restos, although you have to be vigilant about collecting payments from your wholesale customers, who may ask for payment terms.

I hope these practical tips help. :)
'Never eat more than you can lift.' - Miss Piggy
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Old 11-01-2004, 08:25 PM   #5
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The food business is a tough business. I would recommend you contact SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) chapter in your area and seek their advice - it's free.
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Old 11-01-2004, 09:50 PM   #6
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posted this before on another thread but maybe it could help?
Saw this on tv, but can't remember on what show (senior moment)!

The company set up for take home. They have an outlet in main train commuter station in NY, so the commuters come by and pick up real dinner instead of fast food to take home. They only cook 3-4 items per day; and things that are designed to reheat.

Of course, a NY train station is perfect to catch commuters, but I think you could do a drive-through in the right location and achieve the same thing.
I do think there are a lot of people who would rather pay a little more and eat good food. Also think a web site publishing the menu and allowing "reserved" orders would help things along.

Good Luck!
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Old 11-01-2004, 10:17 PM   #7
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I'm sure you know this already but you cannot cook out of your home for resale to the public. A storefront of some kind is what you want and need. Also, when it comes to loans, remember you are WOMAN!!! Check into loans for females who own their own business. There is a local place who does exactly what you want to do. I'm trying to see if they have a website so you can look at it.

"Count yourself...you ain't so many" - quote from Buck's Daddy
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Old 11-02-2004, 05:00 AM   #8
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As Otter said, the food business is a tough one. Lots of hard work, backbreaking work, in fact!

Lots of start up money to 'build' your kitchen to meet your local health standards; also remember to budget in adequate amounts of advertising money.

When looking for a location, 'walk-by' traffic is excellent; an isolated little spot may be great for rent, but until your reputation is established, no one's going to make an extra stop just for you.

And since you don't have a lot of food biz experience, I'd think seriously about budgeting for an experienced chef/cook/caterer, who can handle the food end of the biz for you.
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Old 11-02-2004, 07:54 AM   #9
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I don't have it, haven't seen it, but if it contains all the info it claims it does you might check this book out: http://www.jazzfoods.com/
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Old 11-02-2004, 07:57 AM   #10
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I have a freind who runs a succesful operation like what you are describing. Her location is very good, a small building with high visability just before you get on the International Bridge, on the Sault Ontario side. She has customer who cross the bridge to get her food and take it home. She chose a catchy name that draws the curious, and they come back because the food is good. It's not exceptional, but better than fast food by far, and as good as most restaurants on either side of the border. Her place is called "The Hard Wok Cafe". She is oriental and of course sells oriental take out.

The point I make is that she has a fairly short menu, but with enough variety to satisfy most anyone looking for a quick, healthy, and tasty meal. Her prices are very reasonable. Name, to draw people in, great location, high visibility, and good food spell success. One more thing, customer access to her buisness is very good.

Conversely, we have a restaurant on our side of the rive called B.C. Pizza. The chain has been very succesful throughout Michigan. It is struggling here, in spite of its reputation. The problems are that the pizza isn't of the same quality as it is in the other locations (little pride in the workforce), and it's built on a locaton that while having sufficient parking, is very difficult to get in and out of due to heavy traffic and a hill that curves, making it difficult to see what's comming if you have to turn into the opposite lane. Every restaurant that has tried that location has failed. I don't know how long the pizza place will last.

Just some things to think about.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

“No amount of success outside the home can compensate for failure within the home…"

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