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If you owned your own restaurant...

- What would you serve?
- How would you decorate it?
- What kind of music would you play (if any)?
- How would you instruct your front of house staff to interact with patrons?

This has probably been discussed in the past, but I thought it kind of timely what with all the restaurant challenge/makeover/startup funding type shows out there.

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  1. My gold standard for restaurant dictatorship was the Star Top Cafe, a long-gone Chicago restaurant helmed by the late Michael Short. He played whatever music pleased him at the moment and if you complained -- he turned it up. Nobody walked out -- because the food was great.

    11 Replies
    1. re: ferret

      Nice. Reminds me of this documentary I watched the other day:


      1. re: inaplasticcup

        Next time I'm in New York, I'd love to eat at Shopsin's. I saw the documentary too, and his huge menu is fascinating, but I think my wife wouldn't be up for the experience at all.

        1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

          I think I'd be simultaneously fascinated and depressed by that experience...

          1. re: inaplasticcup

            I've eaten at Shopsin's a couple of times. Definitely one of the more interesting places I've been to. One thing to note is that they're not in the same location as they were in the documentary - they're now in a little space inside a big indoor market. But the food was really pretty good. And we didn't get too much attitude from Kenny or his family - they asked us if we could really finish everything we ordered and we definitely did!

          2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

            A friend of mine went after seeing it mentioned on the Best Thin I Ever Ate. Aaron Sanchez was speaking about the Ebilskivers and my friend had to have them. He took his wife and little son. He said he had never been treated with such disrespect and while he is not a prude by any means, he felt that the second they saw a kid with his mother in the restaurant every other word was an F-bomb or something worse. He said, he was tempted to leave, but felt that was what the owner wanted. He said the food, while good, not great, wasn't worth the crappy atmosphere.

            1. re: jhopp217

              It looks a little suffocating in there from what I could see in the film... But sounds like he cusses all the time regardless who's there.

          3. re: inaplasticcup

            Star Top was trending toward the upscale, so there were always older guys in suits there and Grateful Dead music cranking in the background was a little offbeat.

            1. re: ferret

              i know plenty of suit wearing deadheads

        2. No Substitutions.
          No more than 2 vodkas, no fewer than 10 gins.
          Music and Menu subject to daily variations.
          Food & Drink at proper temperatures - No more too cold salad or beer. No more too hot wine.
          Wood-fired oven.

          If I'm doing it, then I'm just doing it for love of the sport.

          8 Replies
          1. re: MGZ

            +1 on all of the above except the gin part. GIN. :|

            1. re: inaplasticcup

              Why, inaplasticcup, gin is how we Suthunuhs stay so good lookin'. We are well pickled.

                1. re: Sue in Mt P

                  Well then hog-tie me, plug my nose with a clothespin, and pour a fith uh gin down mah gullet, Sue!!!

                  1. re: inaplasticcup

                    Okay dahlin'. Shall we retah to the veranda?

                    1. re: Sue in Mt P

                      Only if you promise to undo the hogtie...

                      1. re: inaplasticcup

                        Why of course-why wouldn't I? I do believe it's time fo' a cocktail......

                        1. re: inaplasticcup

                          "Only if you promise to undo the hogtie..."

                          Heck, I thought that was part of the charm... ?


              1. Food wise it would be a fusion of French, Mex, Hawaiian, Vietnamese..
                It would be tons of fresh seafood & veggies and I'd have my signature vegan patty melt..
                I'd serve Hinano beer from Tahiti on tap and have watermelon cocktails and great wine.
                Lots of fresh flowers everywhere in a casual elegance..
                Music would be a blend of Hawaiian, 70's, Dean Martin & Frank Sinatra and I'd have my drum set to entertain the guests when the mood strikes..or when I feel like playing the long version of Freebird..
                ; )

                13 Replies
                1. re: Beach Chick

                  These are great. I love reading about the very personal touches people would put in their restaurant.

                  Is Hinano a lager? And howzabout some tall Tikis for those watermelon cocktails? :)

                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    woah thats so all over the place I think youd be out of business in a month

                    1. re: kpaxonite

                      I should edit my OP to read that I hope responses will be as fanciful as you please. We are, after all, fantasizing here... :)

                      1. re: inaplasticcup

                        well if I opened a restaurant I would serve one or two things perfectly executed rather than a little bit of everything

                          1. re: inaplasticcup

                            1- Medium rare bavette served with asparagus coated in sea salt and sesame oil, miniature baked potatoes coated in soy sauce paprika cayenne and balsamic vinegar, and depending on the season corn on the cob or roast cauliflower

                            2- Grilled octopus served with mashed potatoes and Caesar salad

                            3- Poutine with super fresh cheese curds

                            1. re: kpaxonite

                              'woah thats so all over the place I think youd be out of business in a month'

                              ; 0

                              1. re: kpaxonite

                                I would hate to be your sommelier.


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  haha well wines are quite limited by the monopoly in Quebec (although private imports are possible) but I would go with Osoyoos Larose (from BC) for the bavettte ....and there are some excellent whites from the Niagara region

                      2. re: Beach Chick

                        Please share your signature vegan patty melt!

                        1. re: Windsor

                          Hey Windsor!
                          Rye bread with garden burger patty that is cooked in a skillet to brown up and cook first with some onions sauteed up with them and then build it up like a grilled cheese with buttered rye bread, cheese, garden burger, sauteed onions, another slice of swiss or cheddar (or you can use vegan cheese) and the other mate for the rye...grill that bad boy up and Viola, you have one of the best vegan patty melts..

                          I use some thousand island dressing to trailer park it up..
                          ; )

                          1. re: Beach Chick

                            That sounds delicious, but in no way is it vegan. It's vegetarian. Vegans don't eat dairy.

                          2. re: Windsor

                            The burgers must be made from soy beans, harvested after Midnight, but only on the nights of the New Moon, so that they cast no shadows. Even cloudy nights would not suffice.


                        2. Can I post an addendum to your OP?:

                          - How much would you charge for X?
                          - How much would you pay your various employees?

                          (Those two questions are related, obviously)

                          15 Replies
                          1. re: DougRisk

                            Absolutely! Great questions. I'd add 'em myself if I could edit it. :/

                            1. re: DougRisk

                              As little as possible.

                              As much as possible.

                                  1. re: DougRisk

                                    As noted, I'd never do it for the money.

                                    1. re: MGZ

                                      Right, I sorta missed that.

                                      If I am being completely honest, my posts here should probably be ignored. Because, if I were a little meaner, I would attempt to thread-jack and get all posters to put forth there *realistic* fantasies, where things like costs and salaries (they would not need to be exact) would be included.

                                      1. re: DougRisk

                                        Why not start another thread? I think that's a worthwhile and very different discussion from this one which is more about the restaurant Utopia in our rich imaginations... Yours would be a much more practical and pragmatic discussion of the logistics of running the restaurant of your dreams. :)

                                        1. re: inaplasticcup

                                          I might. But, this thread should be allowed to run its course.

                                            1. re: inaplasticcup

                                              make your own eggs place; maybe with various staffed omelet stations with many stuffing options,i.e. seafood, veggies, sausages,bacon,pb&j,cheeses,herbs and a sides station w/ various breads and spreads, serving ever-flowing champagne and mimosas, coffee, tea,juices

                                        2. re: DougRisk

                                          I was offered the opportunity to open my own place a few years ago, basically just funding and faith in me. Ultimately, I declined. I realized that I didn't want my passion to become my business because eventually, my business would have to become my passion. And, that's no fun.

                                            1. re: MGZ

                                              The boyfriend and I had a like opportunity. Not funding, but an existing business on the cheap. I was working in the place prior to the offer, and I was not only a little burnt out, but really did not want to inherit a living restaurant, and then have to fight my way through the transition to make it my own. We have a decent chunk of change saved toward the thing, should we decide ever to do it, but I'm always thinking of how I was the one who dragged her heels, when push came to shove. I had damn good business reasons for doing so, regarding that particular place . . . but that wasn't why I suddenly became sleepless when it was a real possibility.

                                              It's fun to read these responses though. Good thread, inaplasticcup.

                                            2. re: DougRisk

                                              In my case, the two "Chef's Tastings" would run US $ 150 (6-course) and US$ 200 (10 - course), and the "Sommelier's pairings would be: US $ 50 for lower level for option 1, and US $ 100 for option 2. For the second tasting, they would cost US$ 75 for the first level, and US $ 150 for the latter. [See my post on the Chef's Tasting menus, elsewhere in this thread.]


                                    2. I've so thought about this so often. I do have a hard time focusing on menu items. Most people love Italian, its not my fave, but I'd make people happy with it. Through meeting many friends of different ethnicity, I have learned to cook their foods and I use my versions that suits my palate and strangely enough my family and friends all love it too. So the food would rotate with the season, and my mood. Upon coming in for your dinner reservation, I would love an area where it would be like stepping into an awesome lounge like area (not a bar) awesome sofas, pictures, and items that were interesting, like a world travelers lounge. Things that would peak their interest, maybe take a look at them out of curiosity. But dramatic, low lighting, and classy. Enjoying their cocktail while they wait. The music would be more interesting too, Natalie Cole, her dad, Japanese, Jazz, of course Frank Sinatra, etc, and easy listening. The staff would treat my customers with respect and kindness, friendly and be very prompt with fulfilling their requests for cocktails. I think they'd not mind waiting a little in that environment. I'd do anything to make their experience one they'd want to do over and over again. Oh and every one that worked there would have to be meticulous with hair, clean dress and the kitchen, all the dishes, wine glasses etc sparkling like stars. Well it might not appeal to everyone, but I appreciate these things when I go to nice restaurants. I don't tolerate snobbery - that's a deal breaker. If we are being kind, doing our best to take care of you, I would not let you come back.
                                      I have to say, I've eaten at some of the nicest restaurants and when you have people hanging out at the bar, leaning against the wall, it drags the restaurant down. Women are usually dressed to the 9's and in beautiful heels, and to stand for more than 10 minutes forget it. Or your forced to share a tall cocktail table with strangers that are drunk, and it just gets all distorted. So that's my dream, wish I had a few million dollars, I'd do it.

                                      14 Replies
                                      1. re: chef chicklet

                                        I think that, no matter the decor, the music, or the menu, a sincere desire to create a welcoming and appreciative environment for patrons always comes through (as does the lack of it).

                                        1. re: inaplasticcup

                                          That's very true, but I thought we were talking about our dream restaurant and this mine. I've been to very nice smaller restaurants that do an awesome job, but the food has changed, and people are making less money, the economy has really put a big wet blanket on everyone's restaurant business. If you haven't noticed the quality of the food or the portion reductions, well I sure have. Not an argument, even if I had the restaurant of my dreams probably no one could afford to come.

                                          1. re: chef chicklet

                                            I think I didn't express myself very well. Because I meant to relay that your desire to create a pleasing and welcoming environment comes through overwhelmingly in your post. :)

                                            1. re: inaplasticcup

                                              Nah, no worries, I just had back surgery, I still hurt like heck and I am a biache today.
                                              But I really do know what you mean, I have my little fave taquerias (i can't spell today either.) All's good.

                                              I looked at your blog, dang. You and I could really swap some war stories, or what I really mean Horror stories. Sorry, I know exactly how you feel, 10 years later and I'm still p.o'd I married a stranger/liar/..I'll stop here. But looks like your coming back, good. Here's the deal - we've wasted all this time on hate, worry, etc. and they didn't give us 10 minutes of thought & just went on along their merry way.. Forget all that crap, look ahead and realize that you're only 40! Very beautiful and have a lot to offer. Your recipes looked pretty good. I have a sugar cookie recipe that I think you might like or your kids anyway. Yours looked good but I didn't see a recipe so that I could compare. I make friends and cook with people from a lot of different countries. I'm learning Japanese right now and it is so interesting, I now know some of those secrets why we can't get our food to taste like theirs...hmmm.

                                              So, stop thinking about all that bad stuff, it's bad for your body. And If you can take this advise and I mean it. I only wish you good fortune from now on, keep your blog lighter. You are a wordsmith and passionate, but why write or include anything about a dumb *&*)^/ It will come to you, just watch. He'll get his, believe me, I saw it HAPPEN. God does a much better job at getting even with those kind of people than we could ever think of., trust me. Might not be tomorrow, not next year, but it will. ; )

                                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                                Thanks, chicklet! What a thoughtful response to my blog. I am grateful.

                                                I would love your sugar cookie recipe. I'm looking for a specially good one that turns out a moister/softer cookie rather than crunchy, if you've got one of those.

                                                I appreciate your advice about letting go. And though it might seem contrary to what you're suggesting, I've actually found that posting about it is enabling me to release the negative feelings faster than the forget-/forgive-ness I've been manufacturing for the past few years.

                                                But if you'll work with my stubborn nature, let's do swap recipes and stories (we can keep it to the positive ones).

                                                And my guess about the Japanese food? Whale sperm. :P

                                                Sending good wishes for your recovery. :)

                                                1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                  omg you are a handful. I've posted it before, they are soft and I made them for favors last summer. My sons came over and told me that everyone said they were the best cookies they ever had. There are two recipes one with butter, and one with shortening, and the shortening ones are the ones that everyone loves. Got that secret from a secret little boutique bakery. Sorry but they're good, you don't have to eat the whole plate, that's my theory..

                                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                                    I'll take both! :)

                                                    I wanted to let you know that I did take your advice to heart. I started the blog as a way to regroup myself from the fallout and in the process probably ended up writing a few very personal posts that are uncomfortable (or even inappropriate) reading for some. I think you'll be glad to know that the last very personal one was, for me, a real watershed post in terms of moving past the most difficult of the issues I was facing. I am lighter as a result, and hopefully that will be reflected in my content. :)

                                                    1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                      You look to be an excellent cook, after seeing some of your photos, and reading the recipes. That's where you possible could pull some real healing. Share it - literally, you'll make some pretty good friends and talk out some of the garbage.
                                                      Sorry, been at the doctors most of the day will post the sugar cookies or search here tomorrow. : )

                                                      1. re: chef chicklet

                                                        Chicklet, thanks again for your kind and gentle reminder to stay positive and focused. I've done a lot more thinking about what you said and am in the process of designing a new blog where I can occasionally write off (food) topic for the cheap therapy it provides. Going to try to keep the rh blog as food focused as a nonfocused person can. :P

                                                        I know in my heart you're right that the Universe finds a way to balance things, often unbeknownst to us.

                                                        I'll look forward to the recipe at your convenience. Sorry you're having to spend so much time with the doc. :(

                                                      2. re: inaplasticcup

                                                        Thought I replied. The sugar cookie recipe, I'll get for your tomorrow. I spent a lot of time at the doctor, driving (without meds- no dui for me thanks) and I was worn out. The sugar cookie recipe is called the fast sugar, and the slow sugar. Basically the same except the butter and shortening. I sure wish I could search for older posts easier, but guess that would take some doing or a magician.

                                                        1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                          you know what? i'm *really* glad chicklet made those comments about your blog, because if she hadn't, i wouldn't have seen this exchange and might not have ever known to head on over and check it out for myself...and i have to say i think it's terrific - entertaining, articulate and genuine. sure, positivity is usually more beneficial to all of us, but i'm also a big fan of keeping it real so your honesty is refreshing. bravo :)

                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                            Thank you so very much, ghg. I'm really honored you took the time to read, and the feedback I've gotten from you, chicklet, onceadaylily and Phurstluv has given me the just the encouragement I needed at a point I was starting to doubt my progress . I am so grateful, and I hope you'll continue to find it a worthwhile read from time to time. I'm really tryin'... :)

                                                            1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                              you're quite welcome. and if you keep writing, i'll keep reading.

                                          2. I have been planning my restaurant for as long as my state has participated in Powerball. The menu would be a conversational interaction of Spanish, Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian cuisine and technique: a resolution of the first-generation tension between tradition and assimilation and a reflection on the modern, multiethnic identity of America. The revolving cocktail menu would also pass classics through the chinoise as it were (e.g. rosewater and calamansi gimlets). The dining room is a sleek, wood-trimmed affair heavy on dark woods with black walls and metallic accents to reflect the light. Waitstaff would be dressed in barong tagalogs and dark jeans. Music would echo the food: thoughtful, energetic and engaging. I'm just a lotto jackpot away from making dreams a reality!

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: JungMann

                                              I can tell you've been planning since the birth of lotto... :)

                                              Here's wishing you pick the right numbers sometime soon.

                                              1. re: JungMann

                                                >> a conversational interaction of Spanish, Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian cuisine and technique <<

                                                That certainly gets my attention - the possibilities seem extraordinarily appealing to me! I'm curious: any particular dishes come to mind while pondering lotto picks?

                                                1. re: cayjohan

                                                  Soft-boiled quail eggs wrapped in longaniza sausage
                                                  Lemon and saffron congee with garlic chips
                                                  Deboned game hens stuffed with picadillo, chorizo and quail eggs
                                                  Pork cheeks a la plancha with pig's ear, calamansi, garlic and chilies
                                                  Spanish mackerel ceviche with coconut milk, lemongrass and ginger
                                                  Roast pork with watermelon rind pickles
                                                  Sumac-rubbed roast chicken with roasted red peppers stuffed with morcilla rice

                                                  1. re: JungMann

                                                    I'd like to book a table, please.

                                                2. I'd start with a food truck, since they are BLOWING UP in Orlando, and since the overhead would be lower than a brick-and-mortar building. It would serve savory and sweet pies, pastries, dumplings, and other filled and stuffed baked and fried goodies from around the world. Empanadas with every filling you could imagine, Jamaican-style patties, tamales, pasties, turnovers, shu mai, gyoza, croquetas, samosas, pierogies, piroshkies, calzones, strombolis, you name it. We'd always have some vegetarian and vegan offerings (stuffed cabbage rolls, dolmades, chile rellenos), and a few different desserts -- I'm thinking classed-up versions of McDonald's pies (really turnovers), cream puffs, cannolis, etc.

                                                  lmost everything would be finger-foods, easy to eat on the go, wrapped in foil or wax paper, with a focus on the international similarities and differences between the menu items. New flavors, new fillings, new spices, new combinations. Much of this could be prepared in advance in a centralized kitchen, and then just assembled, speed-baked, or deep-fried on the truck for the sake of speed and to allow patrons to customize things as much as possible. Of course we'd have a variety of dipping sauces and condiments available at all times.

                                                  Food trucks are all over the news, and they are developing loyal followings. They have a "hipster appeal" because people follow them on Facebook and Twitter to find out where they'll be, and everyone likes to feel like an insider, that they're part of a secret, cool society that knows something nobody else does. But of course they'll tell their friends and blog about it, and the legend will grow...

                                                  7 Replies
                                                  1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                                    That's exactly my business model - ethnic, finger food that transports easily. Maybe needing a fork, but not a knife. Filled things like runsas, steamed buns, pasties and turnovers, and a handful of made to order sandwiches on really good bread.

                                                    1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                      Food truck food that actually belongs in a food truck instead of a sit down concept crammed into a roach coach. Like it. :)

                                                      1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                        i'd serve non-ethnic foods. cuts down on storage and delivery.

                                                            1. re: thew

                                                              broken record. time to move on, thew.

                                                      2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                                        You and I must share a brain. My dream of an international dumpling food truck:


                                                      3. There was a restaurant called Caliban in my old neighborhood in NYC. It used to be my favorite restaurant so much so that I used to dine there almost every night despite my small salary. It was just a perfect neighborhood restaurant that served good and reasonably prices food items like hamburger, pasta and chicken, fish and beef. Their french fries were to die for and so were their mussels cooked in white wine garlic sauce. Their entrees were also amazingly good(sophisticated too) and well priced. Oh and their bread basket was amazingly good consisting of really good quality baguette.

                                                        They used to feature a lot of good jazz music..and their rustic wall was decorated with works of local artists.

                                                        It had a nice relaxed atmosphere with a bit of sophistication. it was never loud nor too quiet. They also had a lovely covered garden in the back which was great in the summer.

                                                        The wait staffs were also very nice...low key yet friendly with great service.

                                                        I really really miss that place...The owner eventually closed the restaurant because he wanted to retire ..i was really heart broken.

                                                        If I was given a choice of going back to that restaurant and Per Se, I'd definitely pick Caliban.
                                                        so going back to the topic, yeah, this is kind of restaurant I'd love to own...

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Monica

                                                          I enjoy that low key kind of vibe, too.

                                                        2. These are great posts! I grew up in a family that fantasized about what "our" restaurant would be so I've been doing that for quite some time, but what I want to do changes quite a bit decade over decade.

                                                          I think what I would do that would fit very well with where I live (midwest) is to do everything as local and fresh as possible, which many restaurants are doing now, but I wouldn't do anything "foodie" with the place. We have a really thriving food scene here now but outside of the local foodies like me, most locals prefer to go to places with "recognizable" food like Appelbee's.

                                                          I've thought for awhile I would do breakfast and lunch because that's where we're really lacking, in breakfast and lunch places. But everything would be humble and "normal" to the people here, as much as possible. one of the most outstanding successes locally in the past several years has been a place that's focused on a variety of gourmet grilled cheeses. Grilled cheese and fries. It's a supreme hit here, and an example of how to take a classic but still have exciting and tasty variations that people will be open to tasting. I would say the opposite would be this place that's specializing in serving gourmet hot dogs with like 300 different toppings. In my experience, people don't WANT 300 different toppings on their dog. I just went to a lunch counter the other day where the lady was selling a fresh, local chicken andouille sausage with a homemade peach mango salsa and some kind of jicama slaw or something. The guy in front of me said can you just give me the sausage plain, with some yellow mustard, and do you have a hot dog bun to put it in? That's the mentality here for a lot of the "regulars," unfortunately.

                                                          So my breakfast/lunch/brunch place would focus on as much regional and local as possible, to show the people here the bounty of living in a state with agriculture as the #1 industry, I'd provide information about the farms and purveyors and ways to sign up for CSAs right at the table, and we'd offer down-home breakfast food like good corned beef hash and eggs, homemade biscuits and gravy, but also some different but not terribly intimidating items. Maybe a european breakfast of some smoked meats, local cheese and local variety of rolls and bread, honey waffles made with local honey and locally roasted nuts and local apples on top, locally roasted coffee, stuff like that. It would be all open so people could see our kitchen and know what we're doing and know who our purveyors are and be encouraged to shop for those farmers' items themselves to help keep farming going and support your locals.

                                                          Periodically, I'd have things on display in the waiting area like the difference in a bowl of a freshly cracked factory farm egg and a freshly cracked egg from a local farm that grows their chickens at pasture. They're like night and day. Or I'd show the steps in making and curing bacon in pictures. I'd also focus a lot in the summer and fall about canning and preserving, which is important here since we go so many months without access to a lot of fresh produce other than root vegetables.

                                                          We have places that focus on local but they're very foodie. A meal from these places typically costs a lot more than a meal from a place like Appelbee's, and if cost isn't the thing keeping them away, it's a fear of the "weird" food in places like this. I have to admit, I went to a foodie place recently and asked what this featured sausage thing was on the menu and they said it's wrapped in caul fat and then this and that and honestly, it just didn't sound good to me. If you described to someone what caul fat was, well, I don't think they'll be selling many of those. I *know* people eat stuff like that all the time, myself included, and don't know it, but it's just a little bit beyond most of the folks here, they just want some recognizeable good food, and I want to show them how much of it they could be getting locally.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: rockandroller1

                                                            That sounds really lovely, R&R... I especially like the way you would educate your customers on the origins or preparations of their food. :)

                                                          2. When I hit the Lotto, I'm going to open a lunch-only joint that serves one (and only one) thing a day, and it'll change daily depending on my mood. Could be polenta, might be pork ribs, possibly sushi or fried chicken or fish tacos or tomato beef chow mein. There would be little to no ambiance other than NPR playing on a small radio next to my cook station. I'd open around 11 am and close when either the food ran out or I got tired of watching people walk past. I would only charge customers enough to pay the bills, and the joint would be small enough that I might not even hire any help. My daughter really wants me to call it "The Mush Room", which is an homage to an OLD comic strip, 'Odd Bodkins'.

                                                            I don't want to own a business, I just want to cook.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: ricepad

                                                              "I don't want to own a business, I just want to cook."

                                                              I hear ya.

                                                              1. re: ricepad

                                                                We had a replica of the restaurant of your dreams at the end of our street. Right down to NPR playing in the background. Open 10-3, simple menu done nicely. It lasted, oh, about nine months.

                                                                1. re: RedTop

                                                                  The difference between their business model and MY "business model" is that I wouldn't need to make any money at it.

                                                                2. re: ricepad

                                                                  My sister lived in a very small town in the Pacific NW for a few years which was woefully lacking in asian food. We would try everything and anything we'd hear the tiniest bit about. These were the days before the internet.

                                                                  We were lucky to come upon this lovely little place we heard about through some sort of circuitous, underground, foodie grapevine. I believe the secretive nature was due to the fact that the woman running the place was serving food out of her home. It's been 15 years, so the details are a bit hazy, but I remember that she only served one dish per day. You also had to call in advance or risk her not being there. At a counter type setup she would serve the type of salad you'd expect at a teriyaki joint. But then the most wonderful Cambodian stir-fry on top of fragrant jasmine rice would appear before you and make you forget your own name.

                                                                  Granted, we were starved for asian food at the time, but the memory of those meals hold a legendary place in my mind.

                                                                3. My dad and I always talk about opening up a hotdish/casserole restaurant. Featuring three or four casseroles on a daily basis like a "funeral" hotdish, a tater tot hotdish, a chicken and noodles casserole etc.
                                                                  Fresh baked breads, a couple of soups and homey desserts like apple pie with a slice of cheese on top. Thick milkshakes and malts.

                                                                  Ambience would be very low key, lots of wood and knick knacks on the walls. Music would be oldies probably.

                                                                  The overall vibe would be very down home and friendly and patrons would be encouraged to submit recipes of their own casseroles they would like to see on the menu. If theirs is chosen they would get a gift card or something.

                                                                  Can you tell I'm a midwest girl?

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Cgrout

                                                                    With the right pricing, as a kind of lunch counter, you could do really well. Especially if you had a special of the day (ie Tuesday is always chicken potpie day) your concept would appeal to a lot of people in business district with lots of office folks looking for a good lunch.

                                                                  2. I was working with a client (lawyer, so not advising on food..) on a modern African concept that I thought was great, but unfortunately, he had a heart attack (not fatal luckily...) and that put the plans on ice. I thought that would have a lot of legs....Personaly I would open something in the fast casual space, think Chipotle/Pei Wei etc...OK, not exactly a great food challenge, but this is where the market is...

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: miami_african

                                                                      Interesting the juxtaposition of Chipotle and Pei Wei because i just read a little while ago that the Chipotle folk are coming up with an Asian concept. I forget the name...

                                                                      1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                        Chose those 2, because here in Miami, they are next to each other! Essentialy the segment I'm talking about is the one above McDonalds/KFC etc, but not full service, so order at the counter, sit yourself...It was interesting that this was the segment targeted in the TV program "The Next Great Restaurant" (what a inappropriate title, but anyway..) Personaly what I would like to own (heart talking, not head..) is a small, 15-20 seat place that did a fabulous tasting menu, think Atelier Joel Roubchon or Masa in NYC...

                                                                    2. - What would you serve?
                                                                      > Bar Be Que. Memphis style to be exact

                                                                      - How would you decorate it?
                                                                      > Bricks and wrought iron and glass.

                                                                      - What kind of music would you play (if any)?
                                                                      > Whiskey music, a.k.a smooth jazz

                                                                      - How would you instruct your front of house staff to interact with patrons?
                                                                      > Smile, take the order, check in from time to time... DO NOT GIVE THE BILL TILL ASKED TO!

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: meatnveg

                                                                        M&V I liked all of your ideas, especially the last one.

                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                          Ditto. I owned a cafe years ago (think chicken fried steak, special-of-the-day chili if a Blue Norther was forecast, etc) and I don't think my cranky old self could handle another go-round.

                                                                          1. re: shanagain

                                                                            My parents were in the restaurant business and I grew up in the back of the kitchen.

                                                                            It's a tough business. Tough. Real tough.

                                                                        2. Food service industry is a nightmare but if I did...

                                                                          A brick oven pizzeria with a simple menu with opera music playing. Who could resist?
                                                                          A burrito truck in a beach parking lot. Close by 3pm.
                                                                          A coffee truck that serves homemade pastries. Close by 2pm.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                            "Food service industry is a nightmare..."

                                                                            So true. My parents slaved away morning to late night in their restaurants, so I often fantasize about having a little place where I can get up with the birds and be out by 2.

                                                                            1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                              The only time I think about it I think of brick oven pizzaria but with unique types of pizza. A guy down in Chambersburg, PA had one called the pizza factory (not brick oven but whatev) and I loved teh variety but he had to close due to divorce. He was always after my BF to open a second locale in Carlisle, PA but obviously never happened. I actually have a menu all written out.

                                                                            2. I really enjoy cooking for and feeding people, but my time in the restaurant industry convinced me that it's no way to make a living. That said, I have this fantasy of running a traditional bistro as a hobby.

                                                                              It'd be open just a few nights a week and have 4-6 tables (or a single long communal table), a blackboard listing what I decided to cook that day (option A - take it; option B - leave it), no staff, cheap prices, and vin ordinaire that flows like water.

                                                                              My business plan would be to lose as little money as possible so that I could keep running the place until I got tired of it.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                Oh, this is really close to my dream restaurant. An old house with a handful of tables, dinner service only, reservations only, a choice of two entrees daily. Specialties of the house: Spatchcocked chicken, meatloaf, salmon, rack of lamb, spaghetti with tuna, chicken paprikash, mussel stew, linguine with clam sauce. Signature appetizer: Bruschetta. Opera would fill the air.

                                                                                1. re: brooktroutchaser

                                                                                  That exists in Toronto, or at least something really similar. Chef Lynn Crawford has a restaurant, Ruby Watchco, that serves a single prix fixe dinner nightly. Her menus are posted online a week in advance. Anyone with a reservation that can't eat something on the menu can call ahead to request something different, though I think it would make more sense to reschedule for different night's menu. Each table is served family style, so diners serve themselves from communal vessels, which could be good or bad for small vs big eaters, depending on your dining companions. I love the idea in theory, but it's scary for a lot of people to give up the freedom to choose each course. Like your menu, brooktroutchaser, much of the cuisine is hearty, homey fare.

                                                                                  I saw much simpler takes on this in Cuba recently and thought to myself that on a slightly more free-market economy island, I could have a grand time cooking up a storm for a smattering of tables, with just one or two items available for each course. My husband likes the idea of a different culture's cuisine represented each night, but I'm afraid that would confuse clientele that aren't as adventurous food-wise as us.

                                                                                2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                  Isn't that just a bed & breakfast without the "bed" part?

                                                                                3. Answers for 1, 2, 3 and 4: I'd let my partner/chef decide/take point.

                                                                                  If it was purely for fun and it's money to burn...

                                                                                  My kitchen would have a charcoal/woodfire grill along with all the latest toys in molecular gastronomy. So, it'd be a mixed marriage of what I think is the best of the old and new. The food would be revisions of classic items. Market would be low/mid, with entrees from 10 to 30.

                                                                                  Decoration would be the old/cheesy "World of the Future" that they had back in the day.

                                                                                  Classical with some remixes of classics thrown in.

                                                                                  Front of house would be limited, with specialists and runners. Table "service" would be done by tablets that can answer most of the diners' questions.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: ediblover

                                                                                    Trying to picture the old/cheesy "World of the Future" decor. I guess I'd know it if I'd seen it. (?)

                                                                                    So you mean people would enter their orders into this tablet?

                                                                                    1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                      I'm thinking of retro-futuristic kitschy design, that was semi-popular from the post-World War II period to the early '60s, where Art Deco gave way to "atomic age" architecture. This is often called "Googie."

                                                                                      Here are some examples:

                                                                                      1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                                                                        Ahh. I have seen it! George Jetson's restaurant!

                                                                                        Thanks, Lou. :)

                                                                                  2. Honestly, I would totally love to open a Maoz franchise.

                                                                                    But I would also love to have a vegetarian restaurant with NO hippie vibes at all. I'd want the menu to be divided by continent, with two or three super delish choices on each continent. And then each month we'd have a tasting menu of different regional specialties- definitely Romanian vegan food ("mancare de post"), another could be southern Indian, Ethiopian the next, etc. And lots of cocktails with cute names, and imported beers to match the specials. Decor would just be chic and simple and staff would have to wear black, not-skanky clothing. And they'd also have to learn expressions in the feature language. As much as I'd like to play uber-loud europop all day, hopefully music would also be understated and not really noticeable. Copyright, registered trademark, patent pending, Jetgirly.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                      "Not-skanky." Funny.

                                                                                      Definitely a growing demand for vegetarian restaurants out there. Someone might be franchising your concept in a few years, jetgirly! :)

                                                                                    2. Toast of the Town

                                                                                      serving 20 styles of french toast, a variety of toast of the day sandwiches and fresh baked bread

                                                                                      weekends only...cause I have another gig M-Th

                                                                                      music would vary each day; including live street performers

                                                                                      stay tuned...I don't often share ideas I don't plan to act on :)

                                                                                      great thread inap!

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                        I'm staying tuned to hear what the 20 styles are, HillJ. (I guess that might be a trade secret you're not willing to divulge yet. ;) )

                                                                                      2. What would I serve - mainly local dishes - traditional with a modern spin. It's what I want to eat.

                                                                                        How decorated - modern - not loads of chrome; not loads of chintz

                                                                                        Music - none

                                                                                        Interaction with patrons - "properly"

                                                                                        1. - a smallish, place that would be open maybe 3-4 days a week
                                                                                          - either serving a (daily changing) set 3-4 course menu, or 3 apps, 3 entrees, 3 desserts/cheese to choose from
                                                                                          - mediterranean, greek, italian, middle eastern, german, or any combination of those
                                                                                          - a well-stocked bar with my favorite gins, rums, and single malts
                                                                                          - music i personally enjoy listening to OR my band playing

                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                                            Interesting, linguafood! How would you fuse the German with the other flavors? And what kind of music does your band play?

                                                                                            1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                              That's a good question.... I would use main ingredients popular in German cooking (not exclusively German, of course) - like asparagus, potatoes, or chanterelles, wild boar, venison, pork, speck, etc., and prepare them à la .... (insert any of the other cuisines)

                                                                                              I don't know - venison kebabs? asparagus with feta, red onion, oregano? Clearly, I haven't thought this through....

                                                                                              As for the band - loungy stuff -- jazz, blues... fairly mellow. I wouldn't want it to distract too much from the food.


                                                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                Great stuff (the music), lf! Smoky, chill... wouldn't distract at all. :)

                                                                                                1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                  Thanks ipc! Plus I could have someone else deal with the cooking :-D

                                                                                                2. re: linguafood

                                                                                                  If you need some ideas, try Semmelknödel with harissa cream; Kartoffelpuffer studded with feta, mint, dill and served with tzatziki on the side, roast asparagus with toum, lemon rind and mint; Spätzle with brown butter, Aleppo pepper, mint and yogurt or Schweinshaze seasoned with garlic, smoked paprika, sumac, coriander, rosemary, orange and honey. Certain dishes already lend themselves well to Middle Eastern. Rotkohl mit Äpfeln made with a judicious number of cloves works excellently with roasts seasoned with baharat, for instance.

                                                                                            2. Interesting thread.

                                                                                              For decor, I would go with quite walls, and ceiling. The lighting would be subdued, but each table would have some "task lighting."

                                                                                              The seating would be very comfortable, as I would want the patrons to enjoy every aspect, more than making them uncomfortable, to "turn tables."

                                                                                              The spacing would be adequate to allow for good service, and intimacy.

                                                                                              The chef would offer at least two "tasting menus," along with the a la carte fare.

                                                                                              The sommelier would put together a list, that matched the chef's food perfectly, with few of the "usual suspects," and few "trophy bottles," and the markup would be minimum to encourage diners to order appropriate wines with the meals. There would be two different levels of "sommelier's pairings" with each "chef's tastings." Stemware would be very high quality. Every server would be trained on the wine list, the kitchen's offerings, and how to make the patron as comfortable, as possible - especially regarding the wines.

                                                                                              The thrust of this restaurant would be the patrons' complete satisfaction, and at all levels.

                                                                                              If it fails, then so be it.


                                                                                              1. I've had a few restaurant concepts running around in my mind over the years...One of the most recent ideas I've been daydreaming about is something called the Banchan Bar. Basically a fast-casual restaurant featuring the kind of banchan you'd find at a really great Korean market. You'd get a bowl of rice and then pick from any number of hot or cold banchan. A soup of the day would be offered, maybe soybean sprout soup or seaweed soup.

                                                                                                How would this differ from a fast-casual Korean restaurant? The variety of banchan would be vast. Most food court Korean restaurants seem to specialize in soft tofu soup or barbecue and the banchan is an afterthought. I would focus on having several types of kimchi, namul, and cold meat dishes. I would have to have my mom in perpetual kimchi-making motion and maybe a few of her friends. Minimum requirements to work in the kitchen would be at least 40 years cooking Korean food at home.

                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: soypower

                                                                                                  Pretty cool concept, soypower. Will you also require that they all do the ajoommah squat while they're working? (How do they do that for so long???)

                                                                                                  1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                    But of course. Is there any other way to make kimchi? I think they have to train many years to get those kind of muscles. Thus the the 40 year cooking requirement. :o)

                                                                                                  2. re: soypower

                                                                                                    Oh, man...I'd eat there in a heartbeat!

                                                                                                  3. - Classic, rustic, French cuisine, done with impeccable technique and the freshest ingredients.
                                                                                                    - Something warm and inviting, making the diner feel at ease.
                                                                                                    - Swing. I'd put on my Glenn Miller Pandora station (without the commercials of course) and call it good (this is what I always cook to as well).
                                                                                                    - Be warm and friendly but you're not their best friend either so don't start any personal stories. And they had better be knowledgeable about the food!

                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: schoenfelderp

                                                                                                      Waitstaff who take pride in their work and interest in the food are a dying breed, I think. There are lots of friendly servers out there, but sometimes that friendliness seems specially contrived to milk gratuity.

                                                                                                      1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                        I was at a Thai restaurant last night and our waiter was defintely not from Thailand. He read off the specials and was sure to say the original name first. He knew the menu inside and out and was quick to let us know his preference. Always good when a waiter tells you he eats there and likes it without being asked.

                                                                                                        1. re: jhopp217

                                                                                                          Now, this will differ, restaurant to restaurant, but I feel that a server SHOULD know the menu intimately. Same for any server, or sommelier, regarding the wine pairings. They should have tasted the food that day, and should have sampled some of the wines, with those dishes.

                                                                                                          Glad that this person was atop things, and should have been rewarded for the efforts, as should the management, for taking the time to educate the servers - lost trait for too many.


                                                                                                        2. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                          You could well be correct.

                                                                                                          Once, there was a group of folk, who were quite pleased to be in the service industries, and they did well. In many families, there were several generations of family members, who were honored to follow in their father's (or grand father's, or even great-grand father's) footsteps. It was an honor then.

                                                                                                          Now, everyone seems to expect to be Bill Gates, overnight, and all is beneath them.

                                                                                                          Now, almost everyone is "entitled," and there is hate for "the man," you know, the one who invested US $ 3M of his/her money in the restaurant.

                                                                                                          Maybe there will be some program, that gives every busser their own restaurant, with no commitment?

                                                                                                          I miss those, who understood service, and strove for greatness in that service role. Too bad that the world has changed so very much, and so many are entitled, upon birth.

                                                                                                          Pride in accomplishment, whether it is as a busser, a server, or perhaps a line-cook, on their way to their own place, is what is so very often missing.


                                                                                                      2. If I ever won a lot of money, I know exactly what kind of restaurant I'd like to open up. I'd love to see a high end restaurant, with food from many different cultures, but with an absolutely relaxed, sitting in your backyard feel. I'd love to be able to serve white table linen food, but have my diners in shorts and flip flops sitting at a patio table. I might even throw sand on the floor. I would love bare bones decor. I always laugh when people praise restaurants for the service and decor and forget to tell me the food sucked. I wouldn't want music to be intrusive, low playing classical and jazz. Maybe something more upbeat on a weekend afternoon. I'd want the experience from the time you walked in the door to the time you leave, feel like you were at your best friends house for a bbq.

                                                                                                        I grew up having summer meals like gazpacho, followed by escargot, followed by coq au vin while sitting in shorts and tee shirts out on our deck in Brooklyn. Sitting with my parents at friends houses for desssert eating fresh figs off their trees with goat cheese and wine. That's the kind of dining experience I'd like others to share.

                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: jhopp217

                                                                                                            Sounds good to me, but I could imagine my wife not being into it when I suggest going. "I really like that place, but it's just like eating at home."

                                                                                                            "Only there's no clean up. "

                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                              LOL. Sometimes a girl needs a reason to get dolled up! :)

                                                                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                That's why women, in general hate going to steakhouses. They may love the steak, but it has to be a buzzkill when they spend two hours getting ready for their night out, only to be seated next to four drunk guys who just got off the golf course and are sitting in shorts, polos and sandals.