How to Start a Restaurant 04 : Testing Your Product

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How to Start a Restaurant 04 : Testing Your Product

Last week on the “How to Start a Restaurant” post we discussed how to find a food distributor. With so many food distributors out there it is important to find a reliable one that will give you a quality product on a consistent schedule. Basically you are looking for a respectable company.

This week in our series of how to start a restaurant we are going to talk about testing your recipes to ensure you have a successful launch.

Testing your product is nothing new when it comes to a new business. Every business should test their product before they beginning to sell it. Why would you think you should do anything different.

Your recipe is a big part of your restaurant. If people don’t like your food it is going to spread like wild fire not to come to your restaurant. The rule of thumb is if someone has a bad experience with your business they are going to tell everyone they know. If they have a good experience with your business they might tell 2 people. This is why it is so important to test your recipes.

8 reasons Why and How you want to test your recipes

1. Soft Opening

One of the best ways to test your recipes and your staff is to do a soft opening. This will come much later in the process like a few weeks before you open. A soft opening is when you open your doors without telling anyone you’re open. This allows you to iron out any bugs that may not of been ironed out prior to opening. Some things you won’t know aren’t going to work until you open your doors.

This gives you the chance to get feed back prior to opening from your first customers and your employees. It is a good idea to have a bowl out that will allow some customers that are willing to leave their feed back. A nightly meeting is a good idea to talk about how the day went and if anyone has any good suggestions. Another good idea to do with a soft opening is to reward your early customers, and thank them for being patient with you while you work through the early bugs.

As the week goes on and the word spreads you are open you will give your team a chance to work under pressure. You will start to experience little rushes here and there.

This is the last step you want to take before opening the doors. This should happen a few weeks before you do the grand opening of your new restaurant.

2. Friends and Family

Before you even get close to this stage you should test your recipes on others that are a little closer to you.

Another great thing to do when opening a restaurant is to invite family and friends for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Ask for their honest opinion of your food. If something doesn’t taste right you need to know early before you open the doors. Encourage them to be honest too. If they don’t tell you chances are your customers are going to tell you by not returning.  

3. Invite Local Business Owners Over

If your going to be successful in the town you are in it is important to meet all the other  business owners and what better way to do it than with a open house just for them. What I did was join the downtown development agency and than hosted the monthly meeting at my location. It was really helpful to meet everyone. This is another great way to get your name out there and to get some constructive criticism. Encourage the feed back. Another great idea is to give the other local business owners a few gift certificates to pass out for you up coming grand opening of your restaurant.

4. Right Equipment

While your testing your recipes on everyone you are going to learn a lot about your equipment and if it is right for your food. You probably think you already know if the equipment is right for the food you are serving or not. It is possible though that some things may need to be tweaked a little.

My nachos for instance I thought I was going to be able to get away with using 2 small crock pots but it burnt the cheese and meat. I had to switch to soap or a small steam table.

By testing your recipes you are also going to figure out if your temperatures are right for your food.

5. Procedures

While you are testing your recipes you should start thinking about your procedures. Procedures are going to help you put things together so your restaurant runs smooth as a babies butt. You need to have these in place before you even up your doors so now is a great time to start thinking about them. I go into much more detail in the restaurant startup kit.

6. Work out the Bugs

While testing out your recipes for the restaurant you are working on starting it is going to give you a chance to workout the bugs. Bugs can be anything from how long it takes to cook something to what needs to go on first and than last.

When we opened we were making our steak cheese and mushroom subs by frying up sizzle steaks as we needed them. This slowed down the whole process. When you are in the food industry people want their food when they get there if they have already ordered. We started cooking all the steak at once and what we didn’t use was tossed.

Another thing we realized is presentation has a lot to do with how people respond to your food. There is a pizza that we have to put the toppings on in a certain order otherwise it doesn’t look right. 

7. Save your Reputation

By testing your recipes for your startup restaurant you are going to possibly save your reputation before you even open. It is going to show your future customers that you care about your restaurant. You care about what people think of your food. This is very important when it comes to your reputation in town.  By doing everything I have mentioned above it will help you have a successful restaurant.

8. Adjustments

By testing out your recipes for your future restaurant it is going to help you see any adjustments you need to make to help your restaurant run smoothly on opening day. Any adjustments that need to be made to your restaurants recipes are going to be made seen by testing them out on everyone. Something that you may think you may like may not be a big hit with everyone else.

Coming Up Next Week we will talk about finding your local ordinances and laws. Stay tuned for the next lesson in “How to Start a Restaurant”


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