What do you get when you combine an AutoCAD sketch, a practical budget, and matching table service? After 18 years in the food service business, Dustin Tyler knows these are the makings of a restauranteur's vision. As a Branch Manager, Sales Rep, Vice President, and Designer at the food service supply and design company Hockenbergs, Tyler has helped hundreds of people plan the restaurants of their dreams.
Tyler remembers helping one woman who had an actual restaurant "dream." One day she stopped by his office and told him about a concept, name, and style for a restaurant that she had literally dreamed about the night before. Since asking for Tyler's help, she's gone on to open three locations, all based on that original concept.
Do you have hopes of opening your own restaurant? Dustin Tyler has worked with enough people to know that every dream needs a budget. He suggests making a realistic plan for equipment and design, starting with these top five tips:
1. Don't forget the grease interceptor.
A grease interceptor is something many people overlook. New regulations started 5-6 years ago disallow anyone to put grease into the city sewer. Tyler sees many people prepare their budgets and forget to include the grease interceptor, which can cost anywhere from 17K to 90K per location.
2. Plates set the stage for your food.
They say presentation is everything and they are correct. While the cost of silverware and plates can seem surprising, research has proved that a nicer plate can positively affect a customer's impression of the food. They see a better plate and think better ingredients and better experience. When comparing cost, also keep in mind the advantages of nicer table service.
3. Consider buying pre-owned equipment.
On a startup budget, pre-owned and better quality is better than brand-new and lower quality. Perhaps you made the mistake of creating your budgets using the lowest range of price and quality, yet you need the better functionality of higher cost items. In that case, Tyler suggests choosing some pre-owned equipment so you can get what you need within your budget.
4. Faulty refrigeration could break you.
If there's one thing that Tyler suggests getting new, it's refrigeration. Few things that can shut down a restaurant faster than a news report about someone getting sick due to improperly refrigerated food. That's why even though Tyler carries a lot of used refrigeration equipment, he says budget for new.
5. Include equipment when you design your space.
Sometimes a piece of equipment can deter well-intentioned design and end up costing you money. Take, for example, a touch screen soda dispenser that serves only one customer at a time. When patrons are bunched up in lines, they could be deterred and decide to go somewhere else. So consider design and equipment in tandem: Do they work together?
Why does Tyler love the restaurant business?
Day in and day out, Dustin Tyler admits he's hooked on the positivity and big dreams of the industry:
"Every person who walks through that door is an optimist. Every one who's preparing to open or reopen their restaurant knows that their idea's going to be the king idea."
With his help, those kind of ideas will keep coming true.