Can You Build A Winning Menu?

Published on March 22, 2010

UH SBDC Consultant Helps Houstonians Find Out
If They Have What It Takes To Own a Restaurant

UH SBDC restaurant consultant Chris Tripoli will teach would-be restaurateurs the ins and outs of opening and running their own establishments.

Even in a sluggish economy, the number of people eager to start a restaurant seems constant — even when that may not be a good idea.

That’s the observation of Chris Tripoli, a well-known Houston restaurant consultant who also teaches restaurant management at the University of Houston Small Business Development Center (UH SBDC).

“For every one failing there are still one or two people interested in doing it,” said Tripoli, whose firm is called A’ La Carte Foodservice Consulting Group.

One of his goals has been to expose those who’ve always dreamed of a restaurant of their own to the realities of the business.

A slowly recovering economy leaves even less of a margin of error for newcomers and veterans alike in this highly competitive business where survivability depends more than ever on planning and execution.

To better serve both groups, Tripoli has revamped the classes he offers at the center, which provides business consulting and training to local entrepreneurs. The new approach is like going from the five-course prix fix meal to an a la carte menu.

Starting in April, a new series of classes will begin breaking out key issues in restaurant management, including menu planning, restaurant marketing and personnel management.

Each will be a single session lasting two hours. The goal will be to offer ideas to jump start the thinking of those in the business or thinking about getting in. For those seeking more, the center associated with the Bauer College and the U.S. Small Business Administration offers a variety of information sources as well as referrals for free one-one-one consulting.

The first new class will be: Do You Have What It Takes to Open a Restaurant, which will offered Wed., April 21, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. It will be aimed at those working in the industry and thinking about a place of their own, and those who long to be in it.

There are middle managers taking buyouts and deciding after 20 years in corporate America to take their savings, thinking: ‘let’s go and take your mother-in-law’s pizza recipe and start the restaurant we’ve always talked about,’ ” Tripoli said.

While the recipe may be gold, would-be restaurateurs need to build their plans around realistic expectations about the start-up costs, industry profit margins and personnel challenges that come with the business.

All the short classes will be held on a Tuesday or Wednesday during mid-afternoon to allow busy restaurant managers to catch a class between lunch and dinner. Even an afternoon’s worth of ideas can make a difference.

“Small restaurants owners are often so busy working in their business, they have little time to work on their business,” Tripoli said.

For those looking for an overview of the business, Tripoli will teach: So, You Want to Open A Restaurant. The class runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on five Mondays beginning April 26th.

For more information or to register go to the UH SBDC website or call 713-752-8488.

For information and registration for specific classes:

Do You Have What it Takes to Open a Restaurant?

So, You Want to Open a Restaurant

By Stephen Rassenfoss

Posted Under: Faculty and Staff

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