- medium budget
- urban periphery
- in trouble
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When we start out in the catering business we often look for ideas that will distinguish us from our competitors. Alas, it’s not all that easy to come up with a winning idea and if we do, everyone else seems to have the same idea at the same time. How much easier it would be to earn money if there were no competitors, I’ll bet the thought has often crossed your mind.
So have you ever considered filling your restaurant while the competitors are sleeping? All-night restaurants can only be found in large cities. There are, however, many different categories of people who eat in this kind of restaurant:
Night-owls, people who work late (shop employees, people who work in bars, restaurants or cinema, medical personnel, lawyers, judges, hotline operators, telemarketers, truck drivers, traders, shift workers, railway or airport employees, public or private security personnel, firemen…). Not forgetting travelers who arrive late in town, sports club members and supporters who came back late from a sporting event. That sure makes a lot of people!
Provided you target the right location and ensure people know you are there, there is scope to make a very big turnover. Obviously, this concept would need a catchment area of at least 500,000 inhabitants, even if it may be possible to work with less. Success doesn’t depend only on your ability to develop consumer loyalty and certain touristic towns could be ideal during the high season, even if the catchment area is not very big.
You could set up business either in the city centre or on the outskirts. It must however be easily accessible and visible with, above all, the possibility to park nearby safely. Security is a key point of the success of your project and it would be advisable to employ a permanent security guard. There’s no need to open a very big restaurant, 60-80 seats will suffice, for two reasons:
-firstly, a large premise would very likely cost too much when business is slack.
-secondly, when business is brisk you have the whole night to make a turnover so nothing’s stopping you from having several sittings.
As for the menu, there’s no point going for gastronomic or complicated. What matters is that you appeal to a broad clientele and anyway you’ll have little or no competition at night. Keep the menu quite short. I’d advise 5 or 6 types of grilled meat, a few pizzas, 2 or 3 hamburger meals, a few pasta dishes. You could even have that well-known favorite of all night-owls, onion soup.
For starters, desserts and beverages, copy the menus of steakhouse/carvery chain restaurants.
Before opening spend a large part of your budget on advertising. Opening all night is all very well but only if people know about it! I’d advise using local radio stations to advertise your opening. You could also have flyers printed, slip them under the windscreen wipers of cars parked outside night-clubs, cinemas and places where people work at night.
One last piece of advice to make sure your all-night restaurant succeeds: don’t be tight-fisted. Bear in mind that if you want to hold on to dependable night staff, you’re going to have to pay them properly, more than day-staff.
As for your customers, remember that dining out at all hours of the night doesn’t necessarily mean they’re millionaires !
So now you have a solution for opening a restaurant which will have practically no competition and that is what’s going to give you the opportunity to make a lot of money.