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Can You Open a Restaurant with No Cooking Experience?

Can You Open a Restaurant with No Cooking Experience?

Opening and maintaining a successful restaurant is a challenge for anybody, let alone someone with no actual cooking experience. But you’d be surprised by how many people have been able to not only have success, but to build huge restaurant franchises without an ounce of cooking knowledge. If you were thinking of starting a restaurant with little to no understanding of cuisine or how the restaurant business works, here are a few tips to get you started.

Assess if You’re Actually Passionate About Food

It’s one thing to not know how to cook, but if you don’t even have a passion for food in general, then it could be almost impossible to make it work. Knowing how to cook or being a chef doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be able to create a great menu for instance. But if you’re actually passionate about food, you’ll be able to create a menu that you and your customers will like. You’ll also be able to identify what the perfect dining experience feels like for you and replicate it.

Start Small

Unless you’re ready to spend a lot on hiring help and have a lot of capital on hand, I would suggest that you start small so that you can at least have the basics down. And try to focus on one specialty. One way you could do that would be to start your own food truck. This way, you’ll be able to get away with selling a handful of dishes while you learn the ropes and economics of a food business. You could also try your hand at catering and start with small jobs so that you can get some cooking experience without the additional pressure.

Then, once you get a hang of it, you could consider opening a pop-up restaurant to test the waters. You can open a pop-up restaurant for a couple of days or weeks and try different menus to gauge the public’s reaction.

You shouldn’t obsess about the actual location, since a lot of the marketing will be done through your current customers and social media. Landlords who are having difficulty getting long-term leases on some of their lots will be more than happy to make concessions in many cases. All you’ll have to do is pick up furniture from a supplier like Restaurant-Furniture, find a suitable location, and set up shop. Try to pick a location that already has some kitchen space however. You could rent an existing restaurant or cafe that only serves lunch or breakfast for instance and take over once they close.

Work with Mass Distributors

Working with mass distributors is a great shortcut for anyone with limited cooking experience and help. Depending on the workforce you have on hand and how much you’re ready to do yourself, you can buy anything from pre-cut, prepped, and pre-seasoned cuts of meats, whole or pre-cut produce and things like pre-made bread or pizza dough. This will cut the amount of prepping you’ll actually have to do and reduce the amount of work hours you’ll have to pay. However, you’ll have to see how much of an effect it’ll have on your bottom line and whether you’ll have to readjust your prices accordingly or consider hiring help if that makes more sense.

Starting a restaurant with no cooking experience is definitely a challenge, but not an impossible one. Make sure that you’re ready to put in the effort necessary and work your way up if you want to make it a success.


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by Rebecca Jones // Contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.