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Restaurant Article
You are what they eat: a how-to for the budding restaurant
THE NUMBERS ADD UP TO A TREMENDOUS opportunity" Every week, Americans consume an average of 4.2 meals that are prepared away from home--that's 218 meals per year and increasing. By 2010, the restaurant industry will operate more than 1 million units, with sales of $577 billion capturing 53 percent of the consumer food dollar. Will one or more of those units be yours? It can happen--if you have the right recipe for restaurant success.

Most baby boomers can easily remember when "going out to eat" was a special event; today, restaurant meals are an integral part of our everyday lives. Whether we're grabbing a sandwich on the run, sitting down to a leisurely gourmet dinner at a five-star establishment or enjoying one of the many choices in between, we're eating out more than ever--and the trend is expected to continue. There's never been a better time to open a restaurant.

Experienced restaurateurs say that this is definitely a business where you can make a lot of money quickly--but you can lose it even faster if you don't have three key ingredients: industry experience, adequate capital and a thorough knowledge of the market you're serving.

Start With a Job

Successful restaurateurs agree that the best preparation for owning a restaurant is to work in someone else's first. Think of it as getting paid to be educated. "You'll learn a lot about things you never thought about," says industry expert Rich Melman, chair of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc., a Chicago-based company that owns, manages and consults with restaurants throughout the country. "There are hundreds of little things, each not being of great consequence as a single issue, but of big consequence when you put them together."

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