Gain Experience Before You Start Your Restaurant Business

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Gain Experience Before You Start Your Restaurant Business

A restaurant is a total life commitment, it’s like starting a family, and it’s a long term responsibility.

The restaurant business, like any other business has its downfalls if you go into it blind.

Not knowing what it takes to operate a restaurant can end in disaster.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “If you fail to prepare, be prepared to fail.”

One way to get the odds  stacked in your favor is by gaining some restaurant industry experience.

People see successful restaurants, and they know something about food and cooking, so they figure “how tough could it be?”

Many people don’t realize, to open a restaurant, besides having cooking  skills and food knowledge ( or hiring someone that does), they must know customer service, billing, bookkeeping, monthly profit and loss statements, tax preparation, media planning, pricing, public relations, hiring and firing employees, motivating workers, general management skills, and I’m sure I’ve missed some.

The restaurant business isn’t for everyone, but if you are one of the lucky ones who have the skills and temperament to own your own business, it is rewarding at all levels.

When I look around at the friends and colleagues I have known and worked with, the happiest and most satisfied are those that own their own businesses. They have the most freedom, and the most control over their lives.

As my father in-law always said people will always need to eat, so if you open a restaurant people will come. The hard part is keeping them coming back.

90% of people who decide to open a restaurant have little to no idea what they are doing. Owning a business of any kind isn’t easy, but owning a restaurant and having it be profitable is even harder.

The food business requires experience, at different levels!

It isn’t that complicated if you know what you are doing.

Before you invest your time, effort and your money into a new restaurant business venture the following three tips can answer a lot of unknowns.

Take a part-time job in the industry: If you want to open a restaurant and you have never worked in foodservice before, consider taking on a part-time restaurant job, such as a nights and weekends position, before leaving your current job to start a restaurant.

This will help you to assess whether you like the industry, see if it’s as good of an opportunity as you thought and also, whether it’s a good fit for your skills and personality. These are all important things to know before you invest your money into a restaurant startup

Learn from someone who’s been there: Ask business owners who have been in the trenches for years if they could make some time for an informational interview so that you can learn the pitfalls of the industry.

See if you can shadow an owner for a day or two or take on an unpaid internship to learn the ins-and-outs from someone who’s been successful. If you can find and interview with someone who hasn’t been successful as well, that will provide an even deeper learning experience.

Take the plunge and switch careers: (this is what I did): Instead of part-time efforts, consider taking on a full-time job in a restaurant.

See if you can work your way up the restaurant ladder. This may mean taking a few steps back in your career. Not only will you learn the business from the ground up, but it’s a good test to see if you like the industry and if you are able to advance in the restaurant.

If you can’t move upwards in someone else’s business that looks a lot like the one that you want to start, think twice before starting your own.

Before I started my first restaurant business I followed tip number THREE, I took the plunge and quit my full time job and changed careers.

I never looked back or regretted any second of my decision. I worked every restaurant concept in order to experience which one would best fit my skill sets and personality.

I took being a restaurant owner very serious.  Below is my restaurant experience. They are all restaurants I’ve worked at, owned, help start and help increase sales by implementing and improving different menus and services.

Jody and Sharon 1.jpg3


Corporate Catering

Jeannette and her business partner new starting in an untapped area would be the key to a successful business.

After much research and visiting the Pinellas County area and seeing a trend of companies moving their headquarters to different cities in Florida, they decided on Clearwater.

They chose a location on a major thorough fair in the heart of office parks and corporate businesses.


 Specializing in off-premise catering for the area businesses and offering individual take out and deliveries to companies in the areas.

Menu items ranged from specialty sandwiches to gourmet entrees.

Jeannette designed creative menus with items that were based on a business theme.

Corporate Catering serviced major companies such as DANKA Industries, Raymond James Transitions Optical, Honeywell, and Val-Pak.

The business grew substantially over the years, and it was deciding period for both Jeannette and her business partner whether to build or to sell and invest in other opportunities.

They decided to sell it at a profit to pursue other interests. 

At the request of the new owner she hired them both on as working consultants and remained on as needed basis for almost a year.


corp pic

Corporate Catering-Clearwater, FL – Owned-Theme based around feeding lunches to  working class White Collar & Blue Collar customer. Delivered gourmet hot and cold entrees, salads, soups and sandwiches to meetings, workshops, events, holiday celebrations and individual lunches to businesses in the surrounding area of Clearwater and St. Petersburg.

Alternative Gourmet-St. Petersburg, FL – Owned and created a theme for healthy menus and developed delivery services to medical professionals and pharmaceutical reps. Created reduced caloric recipes with organic ingredients.

Josie’s Rochester, NY- Owned-Italian & NY  Theme and developed a walk-in and sit down, catering service to hospitals, and local businesses. 


josies store front josies

J.J. Pickles Down Town Rochester NY- Owned and operated the catering and to-go segment of the restaurant. Located in the heart of the city, with a client base of office and city workers.

Elizabeth Ann Caterers-Rochester NY-High End Elite catering to professional men and woman organizations. The service was based out of a Mansion on East Avenue near the George Eastman House.

Below Are Businesses Jeannette Was Hired On As A Consultant To Improve Operations And Increase Sales

Oscar’s Restaurant Delicatessen, Bar and CateringRochester, NYMovie Industry Theme, Upscale Casual

Oscar’s Satellite Commissary  Kitchen- Rochester NY- Developed a commissary kitchen to supply food for the main restaurant and walk-in to-go services, “Quick Serve.”

Georges Meat Market and Catering -St. Petersburg, Fl. Revamped concept, developed prepared meals to-go menu- restructured catering department and staff.

Below Are Businesses Jeannette Helped Start-Up

Picnics Café– Tampa, FL- Consultation Services- Start-up and on premise one on one coaching with the owner for a year.

Karl’ Gourmet Cookies & Lunch DeliveryCity of St.- Petersburg, FL – Start-up and on premise one on one coaching with owner three months. Created theme, menu and developed a catering and lunch delivery service.

Atrium Club Health Café- Manhattan NY, satellite facility inside the Atrium Club, she created menus that consisted of healthy salads, soups, sandwiches and a fresh juice bar. “Quick Serve” concept.

The Big Mini Italian Pizza Cafe- Rochester NY-Consultation developing an in-house café inside a gourmet convenience market located near a college and professional area.

Below Are Chains & Corporations Jeannette Has Worked For

Houlahan’s- Garden City, NY-  Experienced the birth of “Casual Dining”, the era of TGIF, Bennigans, and Apple Bees.

Lackmann Culinary Services- Raymond James Café- Clearwater Fl, help create a sports theme inside a one of the employee dining facilities. “Quick Serve” concept.

Lambert’s Pasta Cheese Café Manhattan NY, located in the Bergdorf Goodman Luxury Department Store. “Upscale Casual”  from Tea Sandwiches, Quiches, Salads, and  Light Pasta selections.

Atrium Club Main Dining Room – Manhattan NY, White Table Cloth, “Fine  Dinning.”  

Genesee Valley Country Club- Rochester NY, White Table Cloth, “Fine  Dinning.” 

Oak Hill Country Club-Rochester, NY – White Table Cloth, “Fine  Dinning.”  

The Strathallan Hotel Rochester NY – White Table Cloth, “Fine  Dinning.” 

Independent Restaurants She Worked At

Lynbrook Delicatessen and Catering- Queens NY, German Specialties

The Filling Station- Rochester NY, Cars and Gas Station Theme, with a “Casual Dinning” concept and a grill and cafe combination atmosphere.

Hogans Hideaway-Rochester NY, Cafe Local Theme, “Casual Dining.”

After all her years in the restaurant business, I now helps others make their dreams of owning a restaurant a reality. At different times in my food service career, I never lost sight of the enjoyment I had being in my own business no matter how challenging and exhausting it was.

I can’t imagine a better way to utilize my experience and knowledge than to share what I know with those wanting to own their restaurant.

Start Your Restaurant Business is NOW my brainchild a business that helps first-time restaurant owners become successful.




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