Just for People !
- small budget
- big cities
- in trouble
-in the countryside
Alcohol abuse is dangerous for health. To consume with moderation.
For your health, eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day.
If you’re reading this section it’s because you don’t have the means to invest in opening an up market restaurant. Maybe that will come later. If it’s any consolation to you let me tell you that if opening a classy restaurant is beyond your budget, just eating in one is beyond the budget of most.
Think about it! When you want to eat out on a tight budget, where do you go? There are several solutions: fast-food, sandwich bar, kebab restaurants, cafeterias all of which are neither very good nor very healthy and when it comes down to it, not very cheap.
Let me remind those of you who are very young or have lost your memory how it used to be when you wanted to eat out cheaply. Because we’re much worse off now a days. A brief history lesson:
Towards the end of the 19th century, eating establishments, called “bouillons” started to appear in large French towns. You could eat in these places for a very low fixed price, thus allowing the working classes to eat decently. The most famous of these places “le Bouillon Chartier” in Paris is still standing, I even had lunch there. It’s worth taking a look at their website.
Later, snack-bars and cafes appeared and each bistrot had a daily special on its menu and that’s a rare thing these days.
Even the roadside restaurants are disappearing, put out of business by motorways and their cold, impersonal rest areas.
Why did all the places that traditionally catered for the working classes disappear, I hear you ask. Contrary to popular belief, their disappearance is not only due to competition from all our modern types of restaurants. They brought about their own demise by raising their prices and especially by lowering the quality of the food they served. They were the first to serve tines food, vacuum-packed food, frozen food and that is how an entire category of restaurant disappeared into oblivion.
I’m going to explain to you how you can set up a business at a low cost and still manage to offer your clientele good, healthy, inexpensive food-and how you can make a decent living from it. And as you’ll soon see, it’s really quite easy.
Let’s begin with your location. You’ll need a catchment area of between 30,000-40,000 inhabitants and you’ll need to be situated in an area where lots of workers will come to you at lunch-time.
Try to find a café or restaurant that is going out of business or has already closed down (not too difficult in these hard times).
You won’t need a large premises. Between 35-50 seats is fine because ideally this concept would suit a couple to run on their own. Nor do you need to be in a prime location. In fact when choosing your premises compare price, size, fitted material and finally location.
Your location could be close to a town centre, on the outskirts, on a busy road, near an industrial estate or business park but check out the parking facilities in the vicinity.
If you have to redecorate and furnish, stay cheap and cheerful. Use oil-cloth table cloths and paper place-mats. Create a vintage look by using checked table cloths. Plain white table ware and ordinary glasses will be fine. Keep your kitchen material basic and buy it second-hand. To sum up, spend as little as possible, remember this is a cheap and cheerful place you plan to open.
Now let’s look at the practical end of things. Everything hinges on your daily specials. Your success will be built on a short, concise menu. Two or three starters, two or three main courses (plus some sort of steak every day) two or three desserts.
Choose traditional, well-known recipes, prepared with care and only using fresh ingredients. All industrially prepared convenience food will be banished from your kitchen. You could even put up a sign saying so.
Avoid the cost of printing menus by writing your menu on a blackboard daily. You could also display it in your front window.
Your starters could include some of the following: slices of quiche, braised leeks in vinaigrette, sardines in tomato sauce, mixed salads, herring and potato salad, lentil salad with lardons, marinated peppers, not forgetting the emblematic egg mayonnaise (home made of course). Above all, make your own pork rillettes and terrines. These are so much more delicious when homemade, they’re cheap to make and are always very popular. The world will soon spread about the authenticity of your food.
For the main courses, again only tried and tested recipes, simple yet wholesome cooking using cheap ingredients. You could serve fish on Fridays. Your home-cooking will transport your customers back in time to the old-fashioned bistrots and your simple yet delicious recipes will remind them of their grandmothers’ cooking. Focus on casseroles and stews, cooked slowly in the oven or simmered on the hob.
The same guidelines apply when choosing desserts, add some ice-cream to the menu. The choice of beverages you propose is important in a place like this. Keep your range of bottled water and soft drinks to a minimum. Propose the usual aperitif drinks at a reasonable price. Think about it: a lot of the people who eat in your restaurant do so because by dining cheaply they can afford to treat themselves to a pre-dinner drink. This has always been the way in working class restaurants. Serve only bag-in-box wine, bulk bought. One or two white wines, two rosés and four or five red wines. Find nice little wines you can sell either by the glass or in 25, 50 or 100cl pitchers. Keep your prices reasonable.
Desserts must also be reasonable because, again, you’ll have customers who prefer to eat an inexpensive main course so that they can treat themselves to a dessert afterwards. All your, dishes will be à la carte, allowing each customer to combine either starter + main course or main course + dessert, or all three courses.
Now it’s time to explain how you’re going to make a living from this restaurant. It’s true you’ll be full-up every lunch-time 6 days a week but because the prices you change are low, you won’t exactly be making a fortune.
This is where you can avail of my own personal experience. In the past, I have had to go into failing restaurants and turn them around. One of them was charging prices that were far too expensive for a menu that was in adapted to the neighborhood. I changed the whole menu and made it more affordable. As week nights were particularly slack, I had the good idea to put one of the lunch-time formulas on the evening menu, and business really took off. What used to be a rather stuffy, snobby restaurant started to attract a younger, less well-off clientele. Clients who ate there with their co-workers at lunch-time came back with their partners or families at the weekends. Many of them expressed their appreciation and to be honest I myself was amazed at the success. You need to do likewise. If people can eat cheaply in your restaurant, they’ll come back often. You must be welcoming and maintain good customer relations, and you too will be successful. Don’t forget: a full 40 seat restaurant is far better than a half-empty 100 seat place. And that is how you’ll make your money.
In addition, you could have special menus on Friday and Saturday evenings eg: paella, choucroute, mussels + chips, but always the same rule: keep your prices low.
So, what more do the masses want?