Start Small Grow Your Restaurant Slowly And Successfully

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As small businesses, small restaurants are vital to local economies and employment.

Small restaurants also play a significant role in the careers of future restaurant entrepreneurs and, as a result, creating, even more, jobs in the future.

“Nine out of 10 restaurants have less than 50 employees, and 80 percent of restaurant owners start their careers in entry-level positions.” SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet

Small businesses represent a livelihood for many of those in the communities where we all live.

Christianne Ricchi owner of I Ricchi in Washington DC pointed out that independently owned restaurants face some challenges, particularly in cities such as Washington that have become “eaten up” by outside restaurant groups. “We’re vying for the same space, and they can usually afford to pay more, which pushes our rents higher, she added that it’s important to “preserve small businesses because they’re really what lends a distinct color to our neighborhoods.”

Smaller Restaurants can be a better way to enter the restaurant industry!


When you’re furiously churning out thousands of plate after plate after plate, you feel more like you’re part of an assembly line at GM than a kitchen.

Making a few gallons of your signature chowder instead of a few tons allows you to put more love into it, and to focus more on the details. That goes for everything, even in the front of the house.

Typical kitchen of a restaurant shot in operation


From a shoe-box sized kitchen cafe to a big corporate chain. I have worked in restaurants of many shapes and sizes. I have discovered I love small restaurants. They give you more freedom, more room for creativity, and less of the assembly line atmosphere.

Each plate at a small restaurant gets time, attention, and care.

Smaller Can Be Better

Take the area of Rockland and Camden in Maine. It has a surprising number of good to great restaurants, all which serve some seafood and include cuisines such as Italian, Mediterranean, Japanese, Mexican, Southwest, and American and of course lobster –fresh from the ocean!

Most of their restaurants are relatively small, chef-owned and operated and pride themselves on serving fresh, local and seasonal foods.


In 2012, named Rockland (pop. 7600) as one of the top nine best small towns for food with a small town defined as less than 350,000 people!

Owning a small restaurant allows you to make the changes and additions to your operation faster than if you owned a large restaurant.

Examples of how smaller restaurants have the advantage on bigger ones:

Small-restaurant managers know that high-performance teams increase profits. Training, cross-training and reviewing staff on an ongoing basis is a process that gets results. Try training and cross training when you have a staff of 20+!

With the use of cost-saving marketing tools, small restaurants with a limited advertising budget can get ahead. Promoting high-margin and specialty items consistently through staff recommendations to customers is a standard way to increase profit without cost. You’re able to work one on one with your employees, and you’re a team/family in a smaller restaurant.

Cross-advertising with other complimentary small businesses is another way successful restaurants increase their client base with minimal investment.

You’re able to access performance trends regularly, making necessary changes to generate profit. If you own a larger scale operation, it is time-consuming to access performance trends and tough to make any changes with a large staff. If you cannot keep up with trends and profits on a swift basis, you’re always playing catch-up. It’s not a very comfortable situation to be in as a business owner.



Starting off small can help you develop procedures and standards, that can eventually help you expand on opening other similar restaurants or eventually add on to your existing one.

You have to start somewhere, and if you succeed on a small scale, you will develop the confidence to take you to the next level or keep you at the reins of your small successful niche in the restaurant industry.



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