i'm thinking about opening a restaurant - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 11-26-2003, 10:51 AM
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now that i got laid off and the comfortable iv drip of a steady paycheck has evaporated i've been thinking about where to go from here and coming up with several things i would actually like to do with my life, one of which being to open up a vegan restaurant, as there are of course a severe lack of vegan restaurants in the world. here in new england i know of under 10 resteraunts i can eat at. and i know some good spots to open one up at. thing is i am at best a mediocre vegan cook so i'd probably want to go to school to learn to be a better vegan chef, i know there are some vegan culinary schools out there, does anyone know the names/websites of any where i could learn more?

also does anyone know what sort of help i can get from the government or anywhere else in financiallly getting my business off the ground since i have kind of bad credit and am currently unemployed?
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#2 Old 11-26-2003, 11:46 AM
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I've got a dream of one day having my own vegetarian restaurant, which I would like to call "The impenetrable fortress of death" for reasons related to mirth and the odd places from which I derive it. So I've sorta given some thought to the whole "Would it work?" question.

If there are vegetarian restaurants around, then you have competition. Now, really, the only way you can compete is with quality or price, or offer somethin gdifferent, such as all-organic or whatever.If the current vegetarian restaurant aren't doing to well for business, then you can't expect yours to do well, since there isn't much interest in vegetarian food in your area. If there are no vegetarian restaurants, then in setting on up, you'll have the market cornered, but you may not know the size of the market. It could be 2 people, it could be 2000. If you live in a city where there is a university or student population nearby, then that's usually a good sign for business. If they all vote republican in your area, it's a bad sign.

In old england, the UK vegetarian society offers cookery courses, bu tI have no idea what the prices are or anything like that. I don't know if there is anything similar in America.

And do remember: Although vegetarian food is great for everyone, the slosed-minded nature of society means that a vegetarian café or restaurant is a niché business. You don't get the same mass-market appeal as, say, mcdonalds. Also, vegetarians are amongst the more fussy members of society, so the menu will have to be well planned, which can be stressful. Many vegetarians are interested in organic food, gluten-free stuff, etc and many vegetarians are health nuts, so that makes things a lot harder. You've got a niché market which is pretty fussy, so that can be bad in a way. The main problem is that for most omnivores, the word "Vegetarian" is a huge turn-off because they have misconceptins that vegetarian food lacks taste, and is based around tofu, particularly in states such as texas. Even in England, where vegetarianism is accepted, most people will subconsciously write off a vegetarian venue in favour of a meat orientated one. I've shared my ambitions of running a vegetarian restaurant with my family, and my dad said "Personally, I wouldn't visit one, because it's gret for vegetarians, but there's nothing for me." He's basiclaly written off the idea that the place will be a good place to eat because he has mistaken vegetarian food as being bland, quite subconsciously. - This guy actually loves vegetarian food. he's amazed at how authentic my green curry was, but he still views vegetarian food as being inferior to meat, simply because meat is the norm. So there are people who wouldn't even enter a vegetarian restaurant if you dragged them in kicking and screaming. the main people wh owould go would be vegetarians and vegans, and omnivorous health nuts. Omnivorous acquaintances of vegetarians might also be customers, but they aren't likely to return on their own accord, even if the food is the best meal they've ever had, simply because returning would mean they would have to change their ideology on vegetarian food.

Despite these glitches, if there's a steady amount of vegetarians in your area, it could succeed.
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#3 Old 11-26-2003, 12:02 PM
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i can't offer any advice but wanted to wish you luck and hope your dream restaurant becomes a reality for you. maybe you can find people on here to help out or go into it with you!

we need thousands more vegan restaurants and i'll definately come eat there if i come to america
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#4 Old 11-26-2003, 12:06 PM
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I'm glad to hear you're interested in opening a vegan restaurant. If I have one complaint about the vegetarian restaurants I've been to is that most of the cuisine was for the lacto-ovo crowd. I get a bit weary of bugging the waitress with my long list of demands such as "please hold the cheese", or "no sour cream", and "do you have a non-dairy cheese?" etc. etc. etc. It would be nice to walk into more restaurants without those concerns.
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#5 Old 11-26-2003, 12:14 PM
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Hours and hours of no work, and no income for a very long time. Now might not be the best time to pursue an endeavor that has a likelier chance of failing (most restaurants do).

That said, there are resources all over the web, including the SBA, that might be able to help you out. If you can't Google it on your own, you may find yourself having difficulty starting a business.
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#6 Old 11-26-2003, 02:09 PM
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I'd definitely love to have a veg*n restaurant or café in blackpool, but it doesn't look like that will happen unless i get impulsive with a huge wad of cash.

i personally wouldn't recommend startin ga vegetarian restaurant unless you had researched the feasability of starting one up. You've got to take into account many different factors. I'd definitelt seek advice from a reliable source before doing something like this.
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#7 Old 11-26-2003, 02:58 PM
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I am glad you are inspired to open a vegetarian/vegan restaurant! There is a vegan restaurant in my town that just opened 6 months ago and has been very successful. However, the owners are also gazillionaire animal-rights activists and really went the whole nine yards with the place. They put about 3 million into building, plus there is a really nice gift shop/emporium and the chef is a "prestigious" vegan chef they moved down from Canada. And they also donate 80% of their profits to animal rights organizations. The food there has been hit or miss for me. Sometimes really good, sometimes not so good, but one thing that remains consistently out of this world are their desserts.

Anyway, no matter what kind of restaurant you open, vegan or not, it takes an enormous amount of time, energy and dedication. I have friends who own restaurants and it is their life, end of story. I wish you well in your venture should you decide to go that way!
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#8 Old 11-26-2003, 07:53 PM
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Trick the meat-eaters into coming and eating tasty vegetarian food.

But seriously, I wouldn't advertise it as 'vegetarian', and especially not 'vegan'. It's just food that's tasty, healthy, and happens to be plant-based.

I believe that there is a huge potential demand if it's marketed right, for baby boomers that are becoming more and more health-conscious, and teenagers/college students who are more likely to want to eat vegetarian.
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#9 Old 11-26-2003, 08:02 PM
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Go for it! There needs to be more veggie restaurants, actually there needs to be only veggie restaurants!! There is a cooking school in New York that teaches veggie cooking. It's called The Natural Gourmet Cookery School. Good Luck!
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#10 Old 11-27-2003, 10:06 PM
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Can't give any advice, but; CoOl!
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#11 Old 11-28-2003, 12:54 AM
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I'd have to agree with epski on this one. It's a grand idea, but I don't think you should go for it. It would be very hard to make money on a vegan restaraunt, and if you're considering schooling to be a cook, I'd suggest getting a finding a different job that could start paying the bills right away. Get a basic job, save money, and then go to school and pursue your dreams.
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#12 Old 11-28-2003, 02:53 AM
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The reason that one in ten new restaurants fail is because of situations similar to this. Someone with no experience in the restaurant business decides one day "hmmm....how hard can it be to run a restaurant anyway?". Off they go with no clue what they're getting into. Suddenly, they realize that running a restaurant is really really hard. Think 80-100 hours a week of work, and no real profit for the first year at least.

If you're really dedicated to this idea, you might want to start with something like a vegan catering business or something to can run out of your home with not a lot of overhead.
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#13 Old 11-29-2003, 01:49 AM
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There's one in Toronto, called Fressen on Queen St W. They get so busy that on weekends, you have to reserve seats for dinner. Very tasty food, mid-upscale. I've brought some meat-eating friends and they all enjoyed it very much. This level of success despite the fact that it takes about 30 minutes+ for them to bring you your food (something about slow cooking, supposed to be a benefit).

I believe the keys to their success are 1) location in a trendy, young, hip urban area where there are a larger number of vegetarians, 2) very high quality food 3) I heard the owner has successfully opened other (non-veg?) restaurants in the past.

So it certainly CAN be done, but it requires good strategy, planning, and I'm sure lots of hard work.
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#14 Old 11-29-2003, 10:02 PM
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I can't offer advice, but I can offer support (unfortunately, not financial ). I hope you are able to realize your dream, as there definitely should be more vegan restaurants! I'd love to open one myself!
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#15 Old 11-30-2003, 07:41 AM
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I truly believe that a fast-food vegetarian restaurant would be a hit in a highly populated area. Drive-thru and all. If I ever get my act together, I may start one.
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#16 Old 12-02-2003, 05:23 PM
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You could start a small, take-out only place to start and see if you like it.

Encourage people to bring their own bags to take their containers of food home in. Use only recycled paper products, or "made from 50% reused materials" packaging, something like that. Put an ad in a local paper for cooks who are vegan and see if they'd want to partner up with you on it.

If you start something small, and if it goes well, you can move into a larger place where you can have tables and a bar with great vegan organic beers!!

Sounds like a great idea. I always wanted to start wome kind of veggie restaurant myself, but I'm not quite that ambitious. Good luck with it!
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#17 Old 12-03-2003, 12:39 AM
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I think for best chances of it working out, I would start as a vegetarian cafe.

Doing breakfast and lunch stuff - pancakes, coffee, smoothies, sandwiches, muffins and cookies...stuff that will appeal to everyone, and is handy for business people in the cities.
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#18 Old 12-03-2003, 02:32 PM
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Most of these (maybe all) are for raw foods culinary training but I hope they will inspire your own research. There are many places out there offering training in the veg*n culinary arts.

There are even people that specialize in doing restaurant "setups."

Perhaps your best resources are the owners of successful veg*n restaurants - most are eager to further the cause and they can offer personal experience that can save you a lot of heartache in the process.

I am always excited when I hear people want to open a veg*n restaurant - Do It!!! I want to be able to pull over at a drive thru or go to a fancy joint in any town and be able to order anything off the menu (sigh, someday.)

You might want to think about starting really, really small first (given budget and the high failure rate of all restaurants = hmmm, wonder if we can find the stats on success/failure rates of veg*n restaurants???)

Ideas: Do a veg*n brown bag service providing delivered meals to college, office workers, or homebound. You can take orders a day or 2 in advance, shop for what you need, keep overhead low w/ home based business, or rent a space in commercial kitchen to do your prep the night before.

A "hotdog cart" style set up offering only a few menu options in a good location can reap huge rewards = just a decade or so ago the concept of a coffee cart seems financially insufficient. In my home town they are on every corner, in every lobby.

My 3 year plan includes opening up a veg*n restaurant in Washington State with a three menu format. One menu each = Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw.

I wish you the best of luck in what ever you do and applaud your efforts for seeking a livelihood that supports your ethics instead of just looking for a paycheck. Go for it!
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