In response to the [the Asheville Disclaimer] article in your Sept. 22 issue [“Asheville Restaurant Closes After 18 Months Despite Attention to Feng Shui”], I was nearly rendered unconscious due to oxygen deprivation from laughing too hard.
I have since recovered and feel compelled to offer the benefit of over 30 years’ experience in the foodservice industry to those pursuing the dream of opening their own restaurant. First off, you better know what you are doing; this is not the business to enter as a novice.
Profit margins are slim and can be nonexistent when first building your customer base. The “if I build it they will come” belief does not apply very well to restaurants. What attracts people is good food, good service, atmosphere and value (are they getting their money’s worth).
Basic business principals apply: location, location, location! This business is all about giving people what they want, as opposed to the quote cited in the article: “We give people what they need, not what they want.” Restaurants that cannot adapt to their customer’s changing needs are doomed to extinction. Culpability is perhaps not the most important characteristic of a successful restaurateur.
You need to have a good product, a good business plan and a good bank account to make it happen. If you need advice to get started, I suggest choosing consultants in the appropriate field.
— Robert Rolfe