Out of the Gate

I don’t know if any of you happened to see the Kentucky Derby a few weeks ago, or if you are even fans of the horse racing game, but I took a bit of interest this year. Only because there were 2 horses with ‘Tom’ as part of their names. Mo Tom, and Tom is Ready. I had to put some money on that–even though there was no way they were going to even finish in the top five.

Anyway, getting out of the gate, starting strong, is an important part of any race. It is also every important part of any business. Especially restaurants. I know of a handful of places that started out with one foot stuck in the mud. Not only is it difficult to be successful in that situation, it is almost impossible to recover at all.

I can’t tell you

I can’t tell you of how many restaurants I have witnessed failing–mostly because they never had the strong start necessary to succeed. I shared one of those stories with you a year ago.

A place in my neighborhood

I happened to stop by for breakfast with my daughter, and was immediately taken by the number of miscues and poor decisions this place made up front. I leaned in to my daughter at the time and told her not to get used to the place, because I knew they would not be around for long. They were closed less than 2 months later.

People don’t realize

Often when folks open a new restaurant, they have been delayed by so many things–contractors, waiting for equipment, waiting for Multnomah County to sign off on things–that they just open thinking that business will help them off-set the start up costs.

Too many times this leads to mistakes. Not having a grand opening strategy. Not having staff properly trained. Not maximizing the goodwill of the neighborhood. They open their doors before they are ready, have many stumbles, and then the word is out that they are lame.

Too late

And then it is too late to reverse that trend. New restaurant gossip travels fast. Especially in this town.


You have one chance to come out of that gate strong. Use it wisely. Make sure you have ALL your ducks in a row. Even before that soft opening you were planning. No point in rushing to get open to save a few thousand dollars and then losing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars because of your many missteps.

Think it through. Months ahead of time. Have a plan. 6 months out. 3 months out. 1 month out. 1 week out. I tell my students and my poor kids to write it down. When you see it in front of you it makes it easier to follow up on.

Do so, and be successful.


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