Friday, September 9, 2011

So, You Want to Open a Restaurant on a Budget

The costs to open a restaurant these days are increasingly surprising. I opened my successful pizza, pasta and ribs restaurant 20 years ago with $25,000. It's not just the price of materials, labor and equipment that's made the difference, it's the codes and requirements. How can you possibly anticipate and budget for all of that?

I've been in the restaurant business, cooking, owning, operating, designing, opening... forever. I've never had a job that wasn't in the food service business. My desire is always for positive cash flow. That's why I wrote a book to help you open your restaurant with an understanding of costs before you get in over your head and have to scramble for cash.

Take a look at the samples from "How to Open a Restaurant: Due Diligence", that I published last January. It's a workbook style for you to record your research, discoveries, contacts, concept, plans, needs, etc. Follow the instructions in this book, so you will not miss a beat. This book is your own personal consultant at the fraction of the cost. That's not to say that you wouldn't benefit from a consultant or independent food service designer.

After you've looked at the book, done some of the work, call me for a free consultation. Let me know you got the book and I can help you with you layout and drawings at a discounted fee.

Opening a restaurant is an experience - make it a great one!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Menu Design

Have you been to a restaurant where the menus are sticky and dirty, or the covers cracked and broken? If this is your restaurant maybe it's time to update your menu. Today, everything is about the "big-wow-factor" - that must include all of your graphics, especially the menu. Don't give your customer any excuse to be critical. Provide them excellence in all areas. Graphics are such a big part of your brand. Take time to review all of your graphic materials including your web site.

And when you do update your graphics think about updating your menu items and prices as well, plus refresh your Web Site. Stay current, offer something new, and watch the customers come back for more.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Importance of Working Every Job in a Restaurant

This article from struck me as worthy to pass on especially for the restaurant owner, for those aiming to open their own restaurant...  - Frank Stocco, Independent Restaurant Designer/Consultant

Maybe you’ve heard this advice before, but it’s worth saying again. A restaurant operator or manager should work every job in this business before taking over a store. This business is different from others in many ways. Unfortunately, one of them is the disparity between the front and back of the house. However, most jobs are easy to get a basic understanding of.

For those reasons, it’s a good idea to spend a little time everywhere in a restaurant—from the hostess stand to the dish pit. Many great operators start out as dishwashers or prep cooks. Others come into this business straight from other industries. In either case, there are many things an operator can miss out on by not having a familiarity with every role in the building.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chef Survey - What's Hot in 2011

The annual National Restaurant Association survey of American Culinary Federation member chefs is one of the industry's leading culinary forecasts. More than 1,500 professional chefs gave their professional opinion of whether 226 culinary items will be a "hot trend," "yesterday's news," or "perennial favorite" on 2011 restaurant menus.

Download the "What's Hot in 2011" chef survey results (PDF).

Top 20 Trends:
1 Locally sourced meats and seafood
2 Locally grown produce
3 Sustainability
4 Nutritionally balanced children’s dishes
5 Hyper-local (e.g. restaurant gardens, do your own butchering)
6 Children’s nutrition
7 Sustainable seafood
8 Gluten-free/food allergy conscious
9 Simplicity/back to basics
10 Farm/estate-branded ingredients
11 Micro-distilled/artisan liquor
12 Locally-produced wine and beer
13 Half-portions/smaller portion for a smaller price
14 Organic produce
15 Nutrition/health
16 Culinary cocktails (e.g. savory, fresh ingredients)
17 Newly fabricated cuts of meat (e.g. Denver steak, pork flat iron, Petite Tender)
18 Fruit/vegetable children’s side items
19 Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (e.g. Asian-flavored syrups, chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut milk pancakes)
20 Artisan cheeses

Friday, May 6, 2011

Video - 2011 Forecast for the Restaurant Industry

The 2011 Restaurant Industry Forecast includes economic, workforce, consumer and menu trends, as well as information for restaurant operators to overcome the current economic challenges and position themselves for future growth.

Monday, May 2, 2011

5 Factors of a Successful Restaraunt

Every consultant will attribute success to different factors. I believe that there are 5 major factors that result in success in the food service industry. I caution even the most seasoned restaurateur about moving forward without having each and everyone of these factors in covered.

1 - Concept and Vision - Is your concept acceptable for the area that you live in and do you have a clear vision of the space?
2 - Due Diligence - It is so important to gather all the necessary information needed to make an educated discussion to move forward. I always ask my clients two questions; do you have the expertise to run a successful restaurant and are you qualified to construct and open a restaurant. The answer to the first question is almost always yes. The second question usually tongue ties my clients. It takes a great deal of work and diligence to open a restaurant. My educated guess is that most restaurants fail before they even open.
3 - Location - Will your concept work in your town, is there visibility, are there any major anchors? Do not believe you are so good that you can open in a bad location.
4 - Funding - You need to be fully funded. This is really part of Due Diligence and is the reality. There are many funding sources and partnership agreements out there. A short fall in cash will result in a short fall of your vision being realized along with the operating funds you will need to train your staff. There are hundreds of implications to being under-funded.
5 - Expertise - To become a very successful restaurant you or your executive staff must have the knowledge to prepare and serve food flawlessly. You also need to have the expertise to manage revenues and expenses.

Do your due diligence. Assure yourself success. Go to for more information.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Time to Get Moving

Hi All,

The economic news is improving. The south has seen a big jump in spring vacations, especially south Florida. People are starting to spend money again on entertainment. All good news for the food service industry. If you are considering opening a restaurant you must be sure that you have a great chance at becoming successful. Having a profitable restaurant is a science. There are five major factors that determine success. A lack of detail in any one of the factors could or will result in failure. I will detail those factors in tomorrow's blog.

Frank Stocco
Owner/Consultant/Designer 888-727-0377

Friday, February 25, 2011

New Restaurants are Picking Up Steam

Usually new restaurant entrepreneurs are getting busy right after January 1st. This year it was really slow. I have to say, just this past week I've see a lot of action. I'm receiving a ton of inquiries for advice on starting a restaurant, and also requests for concept drawings. There is such a spirit to have one's own restaurant, and this economy has put quite a damper on those dreams for quite a long time. I'm excited to see renewed interest and action!

If you are one of the eager ones, slow down and just be sure to do your due diligence. There are things that you need to know and do before you get in too far. This is not to say that in doing these things you will be discouraged. On the contrary you will be confident when you are in the know and take the right steps to proceed with the greatest chance of success.

I've mentioned already that my book is now available for you who want to open a restaurant right. How to Open a Restaurant: Due Diligence is a guide and workbook to follow which will cost you a few dollars now, but save you from headaches and 1,000's of dollars of mistakes in the start up. Check out the table of contents and introduction. For ordering information go to

My hope and plan is to get this book into the hands of the entrepreneur, but also schools with culinary arts, business, hospitality programs, interior design, even architecture.

Passion for the foodservice industry will never go away. At least not in my life and work!

- Frank

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Book

Hi Everyone, Getting great reviews on the book. Thank you to everyone that has purchased a copy. I am very confident that reading this book will give you the information needed to make great financial decisions. There is now a PDF downloadable print version of the book that is priced at $59.00 which you can find at either, or

If you've purchased a book, come back to my blog and let me know how it's going for you.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Launched - How to Open A Restaurant: Due Diligence

My book is launched....
How to Open a Restaurant: Due Diligence.

My book is now released. I wrote it for those of you who've been thinking of opening a restaurant, bar, cafe, coffee shop, catering company, cafeteria, grill, pizza place, fast food or high end, really any venue at all.

To learn more or order a book link to or 

Here is another excerpt from the book...

Financing Summary
We have discussed many creative ways you can fund a restaurant. A combination of funding and sources may be the only way to fully finance, but if your concept and vision are solid and all aspects of your business model are enticing, you will get funded—no question about it. If you do your due diligence, you will generate an abundant amount of interest in your project. And remember, everything you do to obtain funding needs to be implemented with the highest level of integrity. I’d wish you good luck, but it’s not “luck” that will get you funded. Successful funding lies in your abilities.

Until you are fully funded, do not sign leases, purchase equipment, employ designers or a general contractor, nor promise anyone money. Once funded, you’ve completed Phase 1 and will start executing Phase 2, your in-depth chronological map to realizing your dream. A good execution of Phase 2 will literally save you aggravation, time, and tens of thousands of dollars.

Link to now to learn more.

If you need advice or have a question feel free to contact me through my website:

—Frank Stocco

Saturday, January 15, 2011

It's January. First Things First for Restaurateurs

I've been looking at the books for those of you that are biting at the bit to open a restaurant. The 2 books I saw on Amazon seemed like they had quite a bit of information, but relative to your plan I don't know. It seemed as though the authors wanted to make sure they touched on everything. However, communication in our society today needs to be to the point and concise. There is no time for fluff and fill.

I've written a book for you with chronological instructions for gathering all the data and information you need for your specific concept and venue. There is no reason for you to waste your time reading about what a coffee shop needs when you are opening a night club. This book, How to Open a Restaurant: Due Diligence, includes the major areas of concern, and instructs you how to gather the specific information and do the specific tasks pertaining to your unique concept. It will become a resource for you and a journal for taking and keeping notes of important information that you can refer to in future endeavours.

I want you to succeed. But you need to do your due diligence before you sign anything like a lease or a loan. This book is not a restaurant management book. This book will help you with what you need to do and know before you open. You are always advised to seek professionals. This book helps you discover which consultants you need for advice and services in order to succeed. Instructions included are:
  1. Concept and Vision
  2. Business Plan
  3. Financing
  4. Site Selection
  5. Key Personnel
  6. Design Team
  7. General Contracting
  8. Equipment Purchasing
  9. Miscellaneous Equipment
  10. Policies and Procedures
  11. Employee Hiring
  12. Employee Training
  13. Grand Opening
Follow the instructions in the book with care, and you will minimize the costly mistakes that could bring a halt to your vision and conversly begin your successful business with confidence.

If you would like a sample from the book or would like to pre-order contact The book website will be up and running soon for online orders. Bookmark:

Here's to 2011 and business success!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

You Want to Open a Restaurant or Foodservice Facility This Year!

Happy 2011! This is a good time to start your due diligence toward starting your own business, or opening a second location. I have a book just for those that want to get into the foodservice business, or even people who are already in it. The book How To Open a Restaurant: Due Diligence is in publishing right now and I hope it's ready by the end of the month. To order or find out more you can go to
Read an excerpt from the book...

"There has never been a book in the foodservice industry that focuses solely on the expertise needed to open a restaurant. All the published books and manuals focus on restaurant and foodservice management. This manual is designed to provide a detailed guide to opening your restaurant within a required and realistic pre-opening budget. Realizing your concept and vision will save countless thousands of dollars in every aspect of opening your foodservice facility. There are statistics available that indicate the success and failure rate of foodservice facilities. These statistics do not tell you why restaurants fail, only that an unacceptable number do fail. So what does the general public and banking institution assume? They assume that restaurant failure is due to mismanagement and a lack of expertise. In some cases that is true. However, in most cases, the fate is sealed the day the restaurateur is fully committed to open a restaurant or foodservice facility.

The first question a venture capitalist or lending institution will ask you is, “What is your culinary background and are you qualified to manage a restaurant?” I am sure your answer will be a resounding “yes” and I am sure you will be able to back that up with documentation of exceptional qualifications. My question is, “Are you qualified to open a restaurant?” There are many great chefs and restaurant managers who have failed due to what happens before the restaurant opens. Was the restaurant mismanaged? Absolutely not. Think about it. Have you ever seen a restaurant close and wonder why because they were always so busy? It happens all the time. Most likely they were under-capitalized—even tens of thousands of dollars in the red, the day they opened.

The main reason so many restaurants fail is that they are mismanaged before, not after, they open. It is a very complex endeavor, but definitely not impossible. You can realize your concept and vision with confidence if you do your Due Diligence. In this step by step manual, How to Open a Restaurant: Due Diligence, I will take you from the conceptual stage to the Grand Opening so you can go beyond.

The goal is to save you literally thousands of dollars, and even help you gain financial advantage by using this chronological comprehensive guide. Each instructional chapter is a true workbook style manual with space for notes and vital information that pertains to the respective Instruction.

Even seasoned restaurateurs will benefit from all of the tips, tactics and organizational information presented. When the 13 Instructions are studied and followed, the worksheets completed and your restaurant is open, you will have an in-depth journal that contains all of your critical information. This will serve as an invaluable resource for your success in future endeavors."

- Frank Stocco

This manual and workbook will get you started on the right track. Even if you read it first and do the workbook the second time around... do your homework, and that's what I'm giving you in this book.