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Author Topic: Delay opening?  (Read 1006 times)

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Offline noomi

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Delay opening?
« on: April 14, 2020, 10:37:13 AM »
I am in an impasse and wanted to know what some of you thought.  We bought a pizzeria in January and closed escrow in February.  Since then we have been making leasehold improvements and waiting on permits (ABC, etc).  Our original plan was for my husband to quit his current job and we'd open in May.  But shipment of our equipments were delayed due to the shutdown.  We moved our opening date to June.  But with the uncertainties,  my husband is not comfortable quitting his job to run the restaurant full time. Should we delay opening til July.  We don't have payroll but we do have rent and utilities. 

Or should we hire a part time small staff which would include a manager to run the place during the day (take out and delivery only) and open in June?  -- I've gleamed by reading on line and talking to other restaurants owners and they are doing only 30% of their normal business.   Others not at all and have closed temporarily. 

Maybe we only open for dinner hours - which case we don't have to hire a manager.

How are other small restaurant business start-up navigating these next few months?

Thanks in advance.


Offline MN-Smoker

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Re: Delay opening?
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2020, 11:05:26 AM »
I am in an impasse and wanted to know what some of you thought.  We bought a pizzeria in January and closed escrow in February.  Since then we have been making leasehold improvements and waiting on permits (ABC, etc).  Our original plan was for my husband to quit his current job and we'd open in May.  But shipment of our equipments were delayed due to the shutdown.  We moved our opening date to June.  But with the uncertainties,  my husband is not comfortable quitting his job to run the restaurant full time. Should we delay opening til July.  We don't have payroll but we do have rent and utilities. 

Or should we hire a part time small staff which would include a manager to run the place during the day (take out and delivery only) and open in June?  -- I've gleamed by reading on line and talking to other restaurants owners and they are doing only 30% of their normal business.   Others not at all and have closed temporarily. 

Maybe we only open for dinner hours - which case we don't have to hire a manager.

How are other small restaurant business start-up navigating these next few months?

Thanks in advance.

Your only cost is rent. I would spend time working on your free and low cost marketing efforts for a great grand opening (and first several weeks),
Giving up an income in these uncertain times is risky.

As long as rent isn't horribly expensive (and perhaps you can work with your landlord on a break), I would wait with announcing any opening until things are more "back to normal".

I would not rely on hired staff for your grand opening and first few weeks. You'd be better off never opening than to rely on only newly hired staff.

Offline Pizza_Not_War

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Re: Delay opening?
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2020, 12:03:13 PM »
In times of great stress most people will gravitate towards existing relationships. I wouldn't be in any rush to open if you don't have to. Having had a food business with a manager I can surely tell you in my case it wasn't a profitable venture.

Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: Delay opening?
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2020, 01:14:38 PM »
I'll be brief. Delay the opening and DON'T quit the day job!!! ^^^
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Offline noomi

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Re: Delay opening?
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2020, 02:38:01 PM »
Thank you all for your response.  We will have to try to delay as long as we can ...

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Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: Delay opening?
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2020, 02:55:45 PM »
About a week or two out from opening begin making pizzas and send them out to local charities, police station, fire station, etc. This will give your crew a chance to practice and serve to advertise your presence. When opening, I would advise you not to do a grand opening, instead do a soft/quiet opening, if you have done your pre-opening work you will have customers coming in to check you out. This will allow you to work out any serving issues that might crop up (they always do) while allowing your staff to ramp up their skills gradually. In these trying times I don't think you'll get "hammered" as is usual for a new opening restaurant but you never know. Once your staff is comfortable and you feel ready for it, then is the time to consider a grand opening. Many of the restaurants that I've worked with never had to do a grand opening, once the word got out that they were open they were too busy for a grand opening! :).
Best of luck!
Please keep us posted.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Offline waltertore

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Re: Delay opening?
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2020, 03:21:32 PM »
I agree with delay the opening.  Talk to your landlord for hardship and see if they will forgive some of your rent.  I think when this all ends people are going to swamp their favorite places that have been closed to sit down or completely closed.  We have been overwhelmed with take out orders during the pandemic but I think it will slow for us once restrictions are lifted and things go back to normal as people have been able to have our pizza.  It is all unknown waters but I would error on the side of conservative/caution.   
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Offline amolapizza

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Re: Delay opening?
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2020, 04:53:00 PM »
I have no idea about running a restaurant, though I've worked several years in them.

Wouldn't easing in to it in the evening with take away pizza be an option?

Give you some income, and a chance to learn working with the gear, learning the take away side of the business, etc?
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Offline Pizza Shark

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Re: Delay opening?
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2020, 06:58:09 PM »
As others have said - Your husband shouldn't give up the paycheck.  If I were you, I would contact your landlord and tell him the current state of the economy and the lock down means you can't continue with leasehold improvements right now as your husband's pay has been cut and $ is getting very tight.  Tell him the only way can continue with the leasehold improvements is if he can waive the monthly rent.  Tell him the waiver of that rent will allow you to continue to improve the space and that you would be willing to extend your signed lease by the number of months he waives the rent until you are ready to open.  If he is a smart landlord, he'll take that offer any day of the week during these times.  WHY? 

Because you are still on the lease, you are still investing $ in leasehold improvements being made to his property, and he has a decision to make... He can say no and you can walk away and he can have vacant unfinished space he can't lease for months and months as no one is going to sign a lease right now for space that customers can't enter and 4 months from now there is gonna be vacant space available EVERYWHERE that can't be leased. Or, he can make the smart decision and work with you.  You have nothing to lose saying this and leaving it in his hands.  Tell him you need an answer by the end of the week (before your next rent payment is due).  If he agrees you've done well and if he disagrees you can always still pay the rent and tell him you are now draining retirement accounts or something to pay his rent.  He didn't become a commercial real estate owner by being stupid.  Make that offer and I bet he accepts it.  Not only that, he is probably receiving relief from banks on the commercial mortgages he has on the properties he owns so he may be even more willing to agree to such terms as he is just passing the relief on to you that he is receiving that you don't know about.
 
« Last Edit: April 14, 2020, 07:13:02 PM by Pizza Shark »

Offline Yael

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Re: Delay opening?
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2020, 08:56:03 PM »
I agree on what has been said above, but if you can't wait to open, there's the 2-jobs solution: depending on the schedule of your husband, he can work at his job during the day, and at the pizzeria the evening and the weekend... I knew many people who has been doing this (including me, many years ago), but beware: it's very very tiring.
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Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: Delay opening?
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2020, 10:41:03 PM »
I did that too, I worked at AIB during the day (6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. including travel time) dinner with the family and off to the store at 7:00 p.m. Worked at the store until 12:00 a.m. and back home to repeat on the following day. I did this for nearly 2-years until I got my staff and got them all trained. It's a tough grind to be sure! More importantly, I was A LOT younger then too.
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Offline noomi

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Re: Delay opening?
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2020, 11:34:27 AM »
Thanks for all the suggestions.  I will be speaking with my landlord regarding rent reprieve. The prior pizzeria was only open for dinner hours towards the end before we bought it.  So opening for evening and weekend would be a possibility to start with take out and take-n-bake options.  We were thinking of doing just that and sending the pizza's to local charities, first responders, etc .  I agree this will give us a chance to practice and advertise our presence.  We've agreed that a grand opening would not be a good idea for now. 

So many great ideas!  Thank you all again.  Will keep you posted. 

Offline MN-Smoker

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Re: Delay opening?
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2020, 01:28:39 PM »
Just going to echo on the comments of the slow-opening suggestion.
Training your staff and having them ready and "stress tested" for a grand opening is important.

With the COVID situation right now, people understand many places are no open or are using unusual hours. You can use this uncertain time to your advantage in being more selective with your hours.  (Whereas before uncertain hours would be considered unusual and odd and a sign of an unreliable business).

Make sure you have a facebook page and post if you plan to be open with limited pizzas for a given period of time

You can set the rules.  "Saturday we'll be making a limited quantity of Surpremes or Pepperonis.  Reserve yours for a discounted price as we start to perfect our process".
People are checking facebook for restaurant statuses now during this pandemic. It can also help grow your facebook following.

But don't quit the job.

Offline ira

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Re: Delay opening?
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2020, 01:26:01 PM »
California keeps pushing the opening date out. I'd wait as long as possible because it might not be June or even July. It all depends on people behaving and that's not happening quite as much as I'd hope.  I don't know about anyone else, but it's unlikely me and my wife will be going out to eat again this year. At least not unless a vaccine shows up and that doesn't seem likely. She's not let me leave the house for 5 weeks now except to go to my building where I'm the only one who's ever there. Not to put a damper on your plans, but I'm not likely the only one thinking like this. The one advantage you have is pizza works as take-out and delivery.


Ira

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