Category Archives: Opening A Restaurant

How to Create a Successful Bar Plan

bar beverage plan

Are you a bar owner who is serious about creating a successful plan that you and your team can stick to?  Too often bar owners and managers simply move away from the goals and objectives set forth.  However, if your plan is well laid out with buy in from all levels of leadership and you remain steadfast, you will put yourself and your team on the path to success.

Read the rest of the article: Develop a Kickass Bar and Beverage Plan

How can Restaurants Deal with Rising Food Prices?

We read about it in the news and you see it in grocery stores and restaurants: Food prices are hitting all-time highs. Driven by increased inflation rates from commodities like butter, eggs, pork and beef, year-to-date wholesale food prices are at their highest in three years, up 5.3% according to the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index. Read on: What Restaurants Can Do to Battle Rising Food Costs

Determining Menu Pricing at your Restaurant


One of the most difficult aspects about managing a restaurant is deciding your price points. You have to take into account your costs, your competition and your target market. You may have a handful of menu items or dozens. Where do you start? Read more from Synergy Restaurant Consultants.

Checklist for opening a new restaurant – what you need to know


So you have got an amazing concept for a new restaurant. What’s the next step? Is it securing the funds to open your restaurant? Hold your horses for a minute. The restaurant concept is just the beginning of your journey in the foodservice industry. Follow the checklist below to see the steps to building a successful restaurant. Read the rest of the article.

Where’s the Green?

And no, we’re not talking about St. Patty’s day (that was yesterday!)

Or…maybe you’re thinking: Here’s another piece urging me to use biodegradable cups and plates in my restaurant business.

Well, actually this is about that other kind of green…money!  Yes, you may have the best idea ever for a restaurant start up, but without sufficient funding it remains only an idea. You can’t just dream. In this day and age, in this economy, you have to move and do so decisively.  Synergy can help you do just that.

At Synergy Restaurant Consultants, we pride ourselves on giving our clients a full turnkey solution to their restaurant start up ambitions. That includes money.

To better assist you in your goal to have a restaurant business, we have developed a site specifically focused on that issue. At and you can learn about programs to fund your restaurant start up. We at Synergy can guide you through the process step by step until you achieve your restaurant business. Money is available but you need a buttoned down business plan and financial model.  We can help you in manny ways.


Contact us today at Synergy or check out our new restaurant start up green site (as in money)

To Your Success…

Dean Small and Danny Bendas


Is your restaurant start up a gamble?

Here in Southern California we are inundated with gambling. Yes, Vegas still beckons from afar, but the local landscape is filled with all manner of Indian casinos and poker parlors.  The TV, radio, newspapers and freeway signage all lure and entice. Of course the odds are always in favor of the House. Yet what is so surprising is the volume of people who flock to play the slots with their astronomically bad odds of winning.

Perhaps the allure is that thinking is not required to play. I find that sadly true with so many restaurant start ups. A restaurant business plan is not part of the thought process, so the analogy with slot machines holds true…the odds of success are horrendously bad.


Any restaurant business can be an educated gamble. However, the odds turn to your favor when you develop a comprehensive restaurant business plan. Instead of a slot machine, you know play poker. The more you work a highly thought out business plan the closer you come to playing chess…an equally matched game; and no longer a gamble.

Learning any game takes time. Teaching strategies vital to restaurant business plan success…that is what we do best.

The phrase “learning your lesson” tips both directions. Let Synergy Consultants move you in the right direction to future success. Learn to move the chess pieces, not just pull the slot handle idly and hope for the best.

To Your Success…

Dean Small and Danny Bendas

Restaurant Start Up and Supply Chain Management

For those of us with a passion for the restaurant business there is probably nothing more exciting or gratifying than the opening day of our new restaurant whether we are the owner or the dishwasher. However, it is working in the trenches of a “restaurant start up” that ultimately defines the success of your restaurant’s opening day as well as its long term viability.
During the “restaurant start up” process menu development/creativity, architectural design, and operations are the high profile players that receive a great deal of attention. Under the radar in the development and challenges of a “restaurant start up” is “supply chain management”. The best restaurateurs and chefs understand that the “restaurant start up” process is not complete without “supply chain management” expertise. They realize that a “restaurant start up” with a solid “supply chain management” program is a key to success.
A “restaurant start up” is a massive undertaking with many moving parts. Clearly “supply chain management” is one of those major “moving parts” and plays a significant role in the development of a successful “restaurant start up”. For the greatest success and economic value a “restaurant start up” requires the best knowledge and expertise offered by the industry for menu development, operations and training, architectural design, marketing and “supply chain management”.

Yes, You Can Open A Restaurant During Tough Times

Thinking about opening a restaurant? Possibly the mystique of watching Iron Chef or the manic excitement of Hell’s Kitchen somehow seduces you. Perhaps that box of great recipes from your Grandmother combined with your love of food compels you. Then again, you may want to put fire in your life in an industry that is brimming over with fame and fortune…for the right people. Keeping that flame at the right height means the difference between a great success or getting burned.
Even in healthy economies, the restaurant failure rates offer a grim tale fit for Halloween, but in a major recession, the industry turns even more unforgiving. Expensive food spoils, labor costs are high, restaurant-goers are harder to come by, restaurants close…maybe your dream restaurant.
Then again, you are one of those special people; the ones known as entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs have the passion, drive, and determination to go where and when no one has gone before. They shake the dice and their fists at the ruthless odds in this merciless business. Oh, don’t think for a moment we are discouraging you!
We simply believe you need to equip and train yourself for the battle ahead. Otherwise, the war could be very short lived. To help you get started, Synergy highly suggests you contact us right now to review your business plan.
Start with a Pan full of Reality Though you may be anxious to start cooking up business, you can’t afford to skip this first main ingredient: build a solid foundation. There are those who try what is known as the ‘Polaroid Syndrome’–here’s a snapshot of me in my restaurant and here is a great shot of me with my chef. The restaurant business does not work on the “Field of Dreams’ theory of ‘If you built it, they will come.’
Starting a restaurant requires tremendous in-depth knowledge about much more than food. There are financials, marketing, service, training personnel, and people skills. Possessing the right knowledge is only part of the equation. Having sufficient capital comprises much of the rest. You really need to know not just how much money you need to open the restaurant, but also where the rest of it is coming from. Make certain you have enough capital to endure the first six months. As well, set an additional source of capital to get your business through several months after that. Yes, plan a year in advance.
Add a Good, Lean cut of Concept and a Dash of the Right IngredientsWhile the restaurant industry, like many sectors in the economy, has taken a big hit, one segment in food service in particular seems to be faring better than the others. The fast-casual category is capturing customer dollars by offering healthier options at more affordable price points. That spells value for consumers. So, how important is having a health themed menu? Take a look at the ten hottest food trends from the National Restaurant Association’s “Chef Survey: What’s Hot in 2009.”

  • Locally grown produce
  • Bite-size/mini desserts
  • Organic produce
  • Nutritionally balanced children’s dishes
  • New/fabricated cuts of meat (e.g., Denver steak, pork flat iron, bone-in Tuscan veal chop)
  • Fruit/vegetable side items for children
  • Superfruits (e.g., açaí, goji berry, mangosteen)
  • Small plates/tapas/mezze/dim sum
  • Micro-distilled/artisan liquor
  • Sustainable seafood

Comfort Food is IN

While it is clear that fast-casual and healthy menus have potential, success isn’t so clearly guaranteed. Regardless of the segment, restaurant managers need to focus on making their customers feel good about choosing their restaurant. Believe it or not, that is the number one reason people go to restaurants.

So, whether its good food or good service, ensure that customers will feel comfortable. And take note of what customers enjoy. It is a fact that people craved comfort foods, such as mashed potatoes, after the economic crash in ’87 and sushi after 9/11.

And now? The American icons of this economic period are 1) a really good hamburger with really good meat and bacon because it’s an American birthright. 2) We are entering the macaroni-and-cheese economy, but with better cheese. Try serving up these American favorites with in-season, local, heirloom and organic ingredients.

So, what is a prime example of all that we’ve just preached? Try J. Dean Loring, 51, and Michael Gilligan, 52. In 2007, they founded Burger Lounge, a fast-casual hamburger restaurant in La Jolla, California, down near San Diego. They use only organic, grass-fed beef served on a proprietary bun,. They focus on presentation and deliver it all with an elevated level of service designed to exceed their guests’ expectations…remember what we said about feeling comfortable. While other restaurants around them are contracting or downright going out of business, Burger Lounge is expanding. It’s opening a fourth location, with averages sales of $1,100 per square foot. They project year-end sales of more than $5 million. “A lot of people are sitting on the sidelines and are nervous about what’s going to happen,” Loring says, “but we see a lot of opportunities both in real estate and in presenting a product that dovetails with people’s needs now. I wouldn’t say our company or product or model are recession proof, but they thrive in that market.”

Go Truckin’!

In an economy where banks are tight on their lending and credit card companies are slashing credit lines, getting the cash you need to run your business may simply be out of your control. If that’s the case, think outside the box–and more along the lines of a truck.

In our blogs and other articles, we have written about street food. No, those vending trucks are not what they used to be. Fancy concoctions, fresh ingredients and unique offerings have raised street vendors to a whole new level. In fact, they’ve become such a part of the restaurant environment in New York City that they have their own awards, the Vendy Awards. For the last four years they have recognized the city’s best street vendors. This is a new generation of kiosks, trucks and a temptingly low-cost way of entering the restaurant scene.

Jerome Chang and Chris Chen, 32 and 25, respectively, opened their mobile food concept, DessertTruck, in 2007 with about $100,000 in startup capital. (Chen has since left the company.) From the side window of their custom-made truck, customers can order delectable $5 desserts such as slow-baked apples and cinnamon, molten chocolate cake, and vanilla crème brûlée right on the street. Year-end sales are projected to reach about $500,000. Yes, half a million dollars from a truck parked on the street!
True, there are drawbacks. Chang has had to fight to secure one of a limited number of street vending permits that New York City grants. Nevertheless, starting a mobile food concept allowed Chang to establish a reputation and create a healthy buzz. Indeed, surviving the hard times will enable you to get through almost anything. Keep in mind, the restaurant business is a business of money. That money breaks down to pennies, nickels and dimes. Dollars come soon. If you open now and learn how to do it successfully, you’re well prepared for all times.