How to start a Restaurant

7 Steps to Building a Restaurant in the Philippines

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Another great way to make money for the entire family is by running a restaurant. I will try to list some important steps to starting your first Philippines restaurant. I will also suggest methods that make your restaurant stand out from the rest. Marianne and I built a restaurant in July of 2005 it ended up just breaking even and we closed it down after only 4 months of operation. I think we made every mistake we possibly could, bad location, bad color scheme, wrong choice of food types absolutely no parking and lousy tables and chairs. If you are interested in building your own restaurant perhaps you wont make any of our mistakes. There is a restaurant in Bogo called “Yani”, it has been in business for several years and has excellent food. Marianne and I frequent this restaurant often over the years. Choose foods the Filipinos like to eat but have some that are unique to your restaurant not just duplicating what everyone else is doing. You can combine American home cooked meals with Filipino dishes after all most of your customers will be Filipino.

1. Find a location: You have heard it said “Location, Location, Location”, this is very true when looking for the perfect spot for your new restaurant. Don’t pick a spot that is little or no parking available. Don’t pick a spot where people are waiting for buses to get home or to work, most of these people are not interested in eating they are focused only getting to their destinations. The absolutely best locations are near shopping areas or malls, as these people are relaxed and not trying to get somewhere. If there is a factory nearby this can be a good location and you can cater to the businesses that have a lot of workers. Restaurants that are out of the way will struggle to survive unless they have developed a steady following of local people and you better have the best food around.

A note on Location: Marianne and I built a restaurant in Mandaue in 2005 on a main road, people take to get to the SM in Cebu City. We thought it would be a good location. but found out later most of the people here were commuters waiting for buses, there was absolutely no parking and we picked a soup kitchen stye restaurant and these are on  just about every corner. So we had three strikes against us from the start. We ran it for a while and just gave up after 3 months, we only managed to break even. So we where in the wrong location in spite of a Honda Dealer that only ate at our restaurant. We were a soup kitchen  style restaurant and they are a dime a dozen here. I still have our business tax plate which is similar to a auto license plate. (see Photos)

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Here's the lighted sign we had made to put up out front.

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This is a soup kitchen style restaurant, with a serving line. One of the easiest to manage as there are no waitressees. .

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2. Renting your restaurant space: Most areas in the downtown area allow restaurants, in fact you can have one just about anywhere you want. I see them in the subdivisions and on street corners, we had one next to our rental house in Mactan. If you are looking for a space for a restaurant you need to find a space that already has a kitchen of sufficient size to prepare your food. It should also have a large enough space to seat the number of customers you expect to feed. Your space will likely run you anywhere from P5,000 to P10,000, and up for larger floor designs. We paid only P5,000 for our place which was on a narrow sidewalk street with often standing traffic and lots of smelly exhaust fumes, just not a good location. I should title this post “What Not to Do to Build Your Restaurant”.

3. Choosing the type of Restaurant: Thee are a couple of basic types of restaurants popular here. They are the soup kitchen with serving line and then seat to eat. Soup kitchen restaurant are everywhere, so if you want one of these you better have some unique food Filipinos like as most of your customers will be Filipino. You can also have the traditional reataurant where your customers are seated and a waitress takes your order and serves you the food.

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Waren's Beach Resort Restaurant

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4. Equipment: Depending on your choice of a restaurant style, it makes a big difference in what equipment you will need. I will ask Larry Haydon a friend and Culinary School trained cook to help out on this section. Also Roy Ross another Culinary School cook both live here in the Philippines. Have enough utensils and pots, and pans to cook with. you may need a deep fryer for some types of food. You will need a blender for milk shakes and plenty of plates, I suggest getting plastic plates as they are not broken as easily unless you want a more elegant look. Use metal utensils as most people do not like trying to eat with plastic spoons. If you buy small tables don’t get the folding type it is easy for these to end up with your food on the floor vary unstable. Go the extra mile and get regular restaurant tables that are strong.

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Yani's in Down Town Bogo. Notice the color scheme in here, happy warm colors.

 

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5. Color schemes: Don’t do what we did that green color we chose was dull looking if it’s a fest food place you need something happy like reds and yellows. If it is a sit down and be served style you need pleasant soft colors like bamboo or antique white or beige. Green is the color of Money but not a good color for a restaurant just too drab.

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Yani's Restaurant notice the TV, although I would have chosen a couple of larger flat screens.

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6. Advertising to reach your first Customesr: One cheap way to round up some initial customers is to hire some young adults or older kids to hand out flyers and list some great dishes and special grand opening specials, have coupons they can present for a discount. Radio advertising here is not that expensive and can attract a few customers. Maybe say something like Kids eat free limit of 3 kids per family otherwise they will bring the whole neighborhood. This is how I found out about Warren’s Beach Resort. He handed out flyers on his 9 different Pizza styles. His British cook has since left and the pizzas are pretty much gone with the wind. If you are a cook you could likely get a job there making pizzas.

7. Budget: We only ended up spending about P55,000 for all the exuipment, glass door and tables.

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Making Mangoo Milk Shakes, our first maid on the left. Tax Plate is on the refrigerator.

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Our first maid age 18, She was our dish washer and cleanup person. Our little kitchen behind her

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Our First Customers

 

2 comments

  1. I read your article, Iowned a restaurant and bar in the U.S. lasted four years, my niece(manager) robbed me blind…I am moving to maybe Bogo this august, the USA is getting way to expensive on my limited income (retired). If you would, what do you pay for rent and how nice is it…Thank You for your time and consideration..Douglas

    1. Well we own a home in Bogo which is for sale now it’s a bog house and we are selling it for $65,000 Huge rooms and CRs. Anyway My wife and I are renting in Lapu-Lapu city while she attends medical school here. We are paying 6,500 Pesos which is less than $150 a month and we have 2 bedrooms living room and kitchen. You can find rent here in this secure compound from P 4000 to P 12,000 or $91 to 273 per month depending on your style. I like Tumulak Village, Mactan in Lapu-Lapu city because it is secure no peddlers except a few are allowed in and no beggars here either. Rent is cheap yet most of the owners here re wealthy. My neighbor owns a huge house and is a container ship captain and his wife a dentist. Across from him is a retired judge, and the owners of our complex inside the main complex is an engineer with Cebu City. So if you want to rent here is the place. If you are interested in seeing this send me an email and I will give you directions. Charles_Harman@rocketmail.com

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