The restaurant business is challenging, even if you are a part of a successful establishment. Add in the challenge of bringing a brand-new restaurant into existence, and the difficulty multiplies. On the back end, there are supply issues with new distributors, lines of credit and reliable kitchen work staff to hire. On the front end, there are the waiters and hosts that must be trustworthy and hard-working. With some thought and careful planning, however, you can get a brand-new restaurant up and running on your terms.
Take no excuses from distributors.Take a firm, no-nonsense stance on quality of service, which breaks down into two categories: quality of product and timeliness of delivery. If a purveyor refuses to let you sample what he has, do not order from him. If what you order is different than the product that is delivered, allow one chance to fix the problem. After that, order from another purveyor. If a purveyor fails to deliver your order on time, allow one chance to correct the order, then do not order from that purveyor again. Establish from the very beginning your zero tolerance for substandard service, and you will receive the gold standard every time.
Do not rule over the floor staff with an iron fist. While you must maintain an order on the floor with your wait staff, especially in a new establishment, it is important that you create a comfortable atmosphere where they don't feel like every move they make is being monitored. The wait staff are the real entertainers for the evening. They answer the questions of the guests, explain the dishes and the preparations and, in a sense, entertain the customers. To do so in an effective way, they must feel comfortable and free to express themselves.
Make the rules and boundaries of the wait staff clear and unquestionable. There is a difference between being comfortable and being lax. A comfortable yet tightly run floor is what you want, optimally. Remember that, even though you may be friends with some of the servers, this is a job and you must run the restaurant accordingly. If you make a rule, you must enforce it and stick to it unwaveringly.
Encourage constant communication between the floor and kitchen staff. The biggest problem that many restaurants have, especially new ones, is establishing and maintaining a line of communication between the wait staff and the cooks. Have staff meetings on a regular basis so that the two staffs can talk outside of the pressure cooker environment of meal service and so the floor staff can taste the food that the kitchen prepares and ask questions ahead of time. If you get the two halves of the restaurant to listen to each other on neutral ground, before the dinner rush, any problems you encounter once the restaurant fills up will be that much easier to resolve.