A few years ago, I was working as a catering manager of a local historic hotel. The hotel had been in terrible condition for many years until a group of investors purchased it and began the long arduous process of renovation. They were able to get the majority of it renovated before the funding started to run out, at which time they opened for business to offset some of the costs of ownership. As a result, all of the rooms, lobby and ballroom were completely renovated, while the restaurant was still in a sorry state. Since the ballroom was booked for events, I was hired to cater, using the kitchen in its un-renovated condition. The kitchen could handle an event every week, but wasn’t ready for the business a new restaurant would bring. So, I took the job, set up shop in the kitchen and began catering every event that came through.
Shortly after the hotel reopened, things started getting very busy. In addition to being full most of the time, people were booking events right and left. I was soon catering two or more events a week, with a schedule booked months in advance. What had started as a part time job was quickly turning into double overtime. They even expanded my floor staff and hired two full time assistants for the food preparation work, which I normally handled myself.
Then, inevitably, the investors who owned the hotel decided it was time to renovate the restaurant. I was quickly told that I wouldn’t be needed anymore. They would use an outside caterer who could bring food in. I really didn’t want the business to end, and while commiserating over its inevitable demise with one of my staff members, he suggested I contact a restaurant supply company just to see what it would cost to set up shop on my own.
This turned out to be one of the smartest moves I’ve ever made. My restaurant supply dealer practically guided me through what I would need and how I should go about setting up my equipment to maximize the amount of food I could produce. He was able to not only recommended the best equipment for my situation, but also gave me several tips on how I could save money and steered me away from some of the unnecessary equipment I thought I had to have. I don’t think I would have even considered starting the business from scratch without his advice, considering my limited budget and lack of location.
As you might have guessed, I decided to take the risk and give it a try. It’s now two years later and business is booming. I still thank my restaurant supply dealer every time I talk to him, because without his knowledge, I might never have taken the chance on myself and my business.