Originally Posted by GAD
That's interesting. Any idea why? I'd think people think it's "so easy" when it's not...
My family owns a small restaurant and has been doing so for 25 years in Las Vegas. We've moved around a bit.
Basically the hardest part is the beginning. It's really hard getting people to start coming when there are no reviews or word of mouth. Normally you expect to run in the red for at least 3 months, at least that's what my father has said. A lot of people getting into the business just don't have enough reserve to live off of while losing $5-10k a month after the initial investment.
The second issue, and one we are facing now, is it's not very stable. Small family business basically have a very small clientele with many repeat customers. What this means is that we don't get many new people trying the food. This is opposed to a franchise where everyone in the public knows what the restaurant is all about and is readily accessible. Thus, business is very unstable. If the NFL is going on, then we might only get a few tables that night. If the stock market is in a slump, we'll be stuck in the red for a while.
Currently, my family is having to extend their hours and lay off some employees to balance the books. Hopefully the slump will end soon and my parents can go back to more reasonable hours.
The third issue is finding good workers. I know it's a cliche, but it is definitely true. The really ambitious waiters and waitresses go to the larger franchise restaurants because there are better benefits (health care, hours, etc) and larger customer base. We have a very limited amount of workers, some good, some mediocre. The issue with that is when one decides not to work for the day, we don't have a list of people we can call. So should someone call in sick when they've decided to go out the night before we are stuck with no dish washer or 1 (of 3) waitresses missing. A place like Cheesecake Factory just has to find someone out of their long list.
Also, since we are in Vegas, a lot of the good chefs and waitresses get sucked up by the hotels due to superior benefits and wages.
The fourth is location. Large franchises have the funds to buy really nice land and build their own buildings. Small family businesses are stuck with being in strip malls.
Hope this didn't sound like a rant..... But that's how it is from someone raised in a family restaurant atmosphere.