Anyone ever own/run/work in a cafe?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 17, 2010 7:06 AM GMT
    Hello, odd topic I know, not exactly gayish..

    But I've been thinking about this for a few years now and I've never really pursued it.

    Anyway, has anyone here owned, run or worked in a cafe before? I'm curious because for many years I've been interested in owning one.

    Not a franchise cafe however, I'm very had at being told how to do things heh..

    Anyway, my idea is a cafe breakfast/lunch/early light dinner type of things.. I'm a pretty damned good cook but it would also be an awesome excuse to do a chef course hehehe, along with patisseries and the like...

    mmm, anyway, anyone here?? I know that owning your own business is a lot of hard work, so, 14 - 18 hour days 7 days a week don't scare me in the slightest.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 17, 2010 7:16 AM GMT
    I've been working in food service all my life and if you're willing to put in the time I say go for it.
    Restaurants seem like a great business to get into to alot of people but when they find out you need to practically live at the place ( few have the balls for that kind of undertaking ) it's a HUGE commitment if you want to make it work and be profitable.

    Best of luck icon_biggrin.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 17, 2010 10:37 AM GMT
    Nope, never owned one, but beeing self employed with 4 retail stores, all I can tell you is that you'll be working long hours, it's a great sense of accomplishment but can take a while, so be prepared....
  • drypin

    Posts: 1798

    Jan 17, 2010 10:43 AM GMT
    Yes, I too worked at one in college and shortly afterwards.

    - You tend to build up a steady stream of repeat customers and it can get very chummy
    - As long as the quality of the food and service stay strong, the place itself doesn't have to look freshly renovated all the time

    Get your partner involved, because you'll be there ALL the time (as you know and you've been told by others)
    You'll miss a lot of family and friends' events

    Note: If you're going to rent the building/place, make sure you have (or build up) a VERY GOOD rapport with the owner. I've seen more than one gastronomy enterprise go down in flames because the owner decided he could earn more with a different business or he got a better offer.
  • DCEric

    Posts: 3718

    Jan 17, 2010 1:48 PM GMT
    What drypin said. All of it.
  • Ironman4U

    Posts: 747

    Jan 17, 2010 2:04 PM GMT
    My ex started a cafe/coffee shop about 5 years ago so I was very involved and saw first hand what was involved. Like others said, prepare to work long hours but if that doesn't bother can be great. For a couple of years now he has been able to get past the opening/closing routine and get some more free time back in his schedule.

    Having a strong breakfast and lunch crowd, he doesn't mess with dinner so it makes it a bit easier (although he did go that route for about a year without much success). I think the heavy reliance on coffee/breakfast items keeps it a bit more recession-proof. He has his daily regulars who make it part of their ritual and many folks just like to hang-out and meet friends over coffee or whatever.

    There are pages of do's and don'ts I could write based on his experience, so if you get to the point where you're going to pull the cord, let me know and I'd be happy to share more (or get him to talk to you). I've owned my business for 9 years and the hard work is worth it when you love what you do and you can be your own boss.
  • baldone

    Posts: 826

    Jan 17, 2010 2:19 PM GMT
    with your culinary skills, and your work ethic, you would do great....this has also been a dream of mine to have a small coffee house type thing, light sandwiches,soups, coffees....would love to have something that could have the possibilities of hosting some local entertainment also.....unplugged type music......and i could buy all my food from youicon_smile.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 17, 2010 4:02 PM GMT
    Worked in a family run cafe type of place in my teens. First of all, keep it simple to start out. Specialize in the items you do really well. Secondly, and this is very important, watch out for the freeloaders! You'll be amazed at all the family and friends and their friends coming around for freebies.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 17, 2010 4:28 PM GMT
    some family friends have had restaurants in the past, but it never ended well, for all the reasons you've already heard....

    my friend and her mother opened up a little coffee shop on the edge of town about 2 1/2 years ago, and they're loving every second of it! its a medium sized establishment, with a great relaxed atmosphere. my friend and her mother don't have to be there all the time because less goes wrong in an environment like that, rather than a busy restaurant with a chef, etc...

    A coffee shop might be a little more practical if you've never run your own business before, but it really depends on the environment you'd wish to create!!!!

    either way, that sounds like a really cool thing to do!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 17, 2010 4:59 PM GMT
    If you are serious about doing this, find a place that is doing well and has some of the concepts you are looking for and ask the manager/owner if you can shadow him or her for a few weeks, an internship maybe. Find a mentor and people that are willing to help you with things like a business prospectus and all the legal mumbo-jumbo.
    As an executive chef I spent almost no time in the kitchen, most of my 70 hr. work week was spent on: menu creation, food cost analysis, inventory control, scheduling, and employee concerns.
  • CuriousJockAZ

    Posts: 21006

    Jan 17, 2010 5:03 PM GMT
    I worked in a trendy hip cafe in Marina Del Rey for almost 10 years. The tips were so good ($200-to-$300 a shift) that I couldn't afford to quit. That said, unless the cafe can also have a liquor license, it's really hard to make a big profit. I love the restaurant biz, but it's extremely hard to make it unless you micro-manage because employees can steal you blind, and the competition is fierce.
  • Neon_Dreams

    Posts: 352

    Jan 17, 2010 5:13 PM GMT
    My family was in the restaurant and hotel business for 30 years. I have worked as a server, catering specialist, cook, and manager. My folks are semi-retired now. My mom feeds the homeless every day and my dad now works in insurance auditing.

    I often tell me dad "I want to own a restaurant one day, soon". He says "Son, it's not 'easy money'. Your mother and I worked 80 hours a week taking care of the family business".

    I reply to my father, "Dad, you did not listen to me. icon_rolleyes.gif I want to OWN a restaurant. I do not want to MANAGE it! I can pay somebody to do all the work..." icon_razz.gif

    Sadly this is not easily the case. Whether you are building a new business from the ground up or buying and existing one, being an 'absentee' owner- that is, not being around most of the time- often leads to uncontrollable theft. This is especially the case if your business includes a liquor license.

    Do your homework and research before venturing into the restaurant business. With proper planning, professional attitude, and responsible financing, you can achieve success in food and beverage. GOOD LUCK. icon_wink.gif

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 18, 2010 12:56 AM GMT
    Hey guys, thanks for your replies..

    About the whole working hours and such, i'm not stranger to that, I have had my own business where 40 hour work weeks where unheard of, 65 hour weeks where a luxury and 100 hours where not unheard of heh.. the last thing I lack is dedication and drive to get things done, especially when I'm investing such a large chunk of money into it.

    I'm not wanting a full blown restaurant either, that would be to much for me and I'm not so interested in that, good food, great coffee and a relaxing calm environment where you can sit, enjoy your coffee, maybe watch the world walk by, read a book or chat with friends.. Those lively "Modern" cafe's are a little to much for me, a coffee is a break from the fast paced world..

    The dinner thing is just an idea though, it probably wouldn't be like that at all, breakfast absolutely, it's my most favorite meal of the day icon_biggrin.gif as well as lunch.

    I'll have a good look into it, I have the time so I should use it I suppose heh icon_smile.gif
  • drypin

    Posts: 1798

    Jan 18, 2010 1:01 AM GMT
    Now we know why you bought the food processor.

    Are you going to frown at your customers like this? icon_wink.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 18, 2010 1:11 AM GMT
    drypin saidNow we know why you bought the food processor.

    Are you going to frown at your customers like this? icon_wink.gif

    only if they ask stupid questions.. like is the coffee/food good, what's best today, that sorta stuff icon_razz.gif