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Is the Restaurant Business a good Investment?

This is a question my fiancée, Greg and I have discussed at length over the past several years.  Our personal goal is to open a place one day that serves as both a bistro and a fresh market.  Food has always been important to us, as well as community, and we hope to play to those strengths one day.  At the moment however, our lives keep us busy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have an endgame in mind.  Unfortunately, with the global economic crisis over the past few years, investment in potential restaurants has fallen off lately.

So is it good business to open a restaurant?  As with anything, you should always evaluate the pros and cons first.  Restaurants are expensive- they are costly and hard to maintain.  Permit inspectors, health inspectors, and even food critics come to judge your work, to see if you meet their standards.  Not to mention the cost of food, the cost of power, expensive equipment, and the ability to pay your employees, just to get your restaurant operational.  Then, after all that, you’ve got to market, advertise, and create a menu that everyone enjoys enough for you to be able to sell.  Above all else, you’ve got to be able to make good food- a trick not every person is capable of mastering.  Have you ever seen ‘Hell’s Kitchen’, or ‘Restaurant Nightmares’?  Any one of those people can tell you how difficult it is to make it in the restaurant business.

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Food for Thought: a look at Fusion-style restaurants

Even though humans have been cooking for several thousand years, we have yet to master the skill.  They call it food sciences, after all, and in science, there is always something new to discover.  Cooking involves very complex chemical reactions, and we are always reinventing food based around what we can recreate and manipulate.  You could say that cooking is alchemy, just with organisms, instead of elements.

As a result, our tastes are always evolving.  There are always new flavor combinations to be discovered, even amongst all the classic dishes you know and love.  To that end, a recent trend has been developing in the restaurant world, where chefs have taken the knowledge they have gained throughout their travels, and culminated that into entirely new and unique dishes.  This is called fusion, and it stretches across all food styles, and techniques.  This trend has created a huge surge in food popularity, as well as interest in the hospitality field.  All the newest restaurants, and the highest Michelin stars employ fusion cooking- taking interesting, exotic flavors, and combining them with a traditional dish, to create something completely different.

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Health and Hazards in the Restaurant Industry

It is rarely considered, but when pointed out, becomes shockingly obvious.  As a culture, we cannot abide a dirty, unsanitary kitchen.  That is why there is considerable demand for food and health inspectors in this country.  The last thing anyone wants is food poisoning, nor does anyone want to touch dirty glasses or silverware.  Which is shocking, when you stop to think about how often you wash your hands in a day.

When I was in college the first time around, I had a job as a restaurant employee for several years.  I can tell you from experience, you’ll never see a manager more paranoid than when he or she is being inspected.  That is because maintaining a healthy and safe environment within a restaurant is a big deal.  You have various foods coming in close contact with one another, not to mention the close proximity of cleaning supplies, and the near constant volume and influx of people.  This can potentially create a breeding ground for all manner of disease and bacteria- which is why people are so particular about the health standards of the restaurant industry.

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