Many new restaurant owners put their hard earned money (or more likely the money of their friends, neighbors and relatives), and a great idea of time into re-decorating.I will never forget the seemingly endless spent re-finishing a bar top in the first place I owned.  It was beautiful!  Birds-eye maple.  Several coats of varnish made it look like glass and, after many days of curing, you could slide a pint glass the entire length with a gentle push.  A bar owner friend came by just before we opened and commented on how much he admired the bar top.  Then he said “But, if you do the business you hope for it’ll be covered with elbows and glassware”. 

He was absolutely right.  The old bar top would have done just fine and saved a lot of time and money.  That new bartop didn’t put one dime in the till.  Likewise neither do most of the so-called improvements we make.  when it comes right down to it isn’t it more for our own ego?  Are we just building monuments to ourselves? 

“Making it your own” is exciting and one of the benefits of owing your own business.  It’s understandable that you’re anxious for the place to reflect your style and imagination yet, many operators allow that effort to supersede other, more operationally valid, efforts.  

That initial funding goes very quickly and, unless you’re financially independent, your first job is to get the business open and generating revenue as soon as possible. 

A quick Google search will yield many “how to” sites devoted to restaurants.  One site in particular, which I consider a leading authority on restaurant and bar operations lists their main departments as follows:  

  • Business & Financial
  • Business Plans
  • Food & Beverage
  • Menu
  • Customer Service
  • Marketing
  • Startup & Growth
  • Technology

None of the sites I visited included a department devoted to decorating.

It’s important to create the proper atmosphere, one conducive to dining, rockin’ out, or whatever your concept is,  but it’s easy to allow the emphasis to become the focus. It’s not by accident that major management websites do not include painting instructions.

You’ll find that 99% of the “decorating” can be accomplished between open hours.  Unless there are major repairs, like major plumbing for instance, just do it after close.

It aint rocket science! Quality, Service, Cleanliness. Get the cash coming in and make changes on the fly.

Doug Caywood has managed, owned and operated businesses in the hospitality industry for more than twenty-five years. For more information on Restaurant Management & Operations click below.   

Buying Your Hospitality Business (blog)