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Old 02-04-2011, 11:10 AM
5 posts, read 5,127 times
Reputation: 10


Hi guys,
I'm new to this forum but I would like to see what you guys think about this idea. I am going to be graduating in May with a bachelors degree in business, and plan on attending a culinary school in NY in the fall.

My two passions in life are cooking and skiing, so my dream job would be to open up a restaurant either on a ski resort or in the local town near by. I talked to my parents about it and they were a little worried about the idea because of how seasonable it is and how hard it will be to survive the summer down season. My restaurant style would preferably be family style Italian food utilizing some of my family recipes as well as traditional regional Italian food that you might not find here in the US.

I was wondering how saturated this market is and how feasible this idea would be. I plan on making the move in about 5-6 years after I have more experience working in the industry. Also what are some of the better areas to make the move to? I was hoping the resort would be very family oriented and also have strong local support in the summer. How expensive would the move be (I currently reside in the Philly area) and what do you guys think the annual income of the area would be?

Thanks much!
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Old 02-04-2011, 12:13 PM
20,383 posts, read 37,959,587 times
Reputation: 18196
You WILL get some ideas from our ski area regulars, but in the meantime, use all the usual mapping functions (mapquest, et al) to zero in on each town then do the "find nearby" feature to see what eateries are present. Check out the newspapers for each town for some idea of what's there or what's needed. Eateries come and go with amazing speed, opening a new eatery is tough enough anywhere, but is much more problematic in a space-constrained, pricey tourist town with a seasonal clientele. IMO, best to work in the industry a while to learn the basics then move up as far as you can before taking the plunge. Best of luck to you.
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Old 02-04-2011, 01:33 PM
10,903 posts, read 41,395,505 times
Reputation: 14090
Mike has good advice and guidelines. You'd definitely want to work in the biz for awhile (several years, mabye) in a resort area to get a better understanding of the problems/expenses and potential market for your product before opening up a storefront.

The restaurant biz is tough enough to begin with, but opening up in very expensive space with high overhead and labor costs is even more a difficult challenge in a seasonal market.

FWIW ... the people I know who were successful enough in the restaurant biz in a ski town (Vail and Aspen) ... did not have much, if any, time to go skiing. The ski season is definitely their busy season for the restaurant, and it's not a part-time affair. A few made it well enough in high dollar restaurants ... something I would not expect in a "family style italian" eatery ... that they were able to employ a manager and staff to allow them time to get away, but not more than a half-day or so a couple of times per week.

For the most part, many of them only made their money out of the place on the day they sold it.
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Old 02-04-2011, 03:04 PM
9,817 posts, read 19,089,854 times
Reputation: 7546
It doesn't seem to me you have either been out there or are very familiar with it.

Therefore if you really want to open a place in the mountains, for starters you need to get out there and start working in local restaurants once your schooling is done. Otherwise you'll be dog food coming out there and opening up when you don't have a clue about the local area. Rather start in the business locally and work your way up, make connections, learn about the local area.

For starters with the ski areas that are big enough to support restaurants, these tend to cater to higher earning individuals, especially Vail and Aspen. All of these areas already have exceptional high end and middle range italian restaurants and people expect the best, so if you are not good, you are gone.

You also have to exist in a seasonal world. All of these towns have about 6 months of the year of reasonable earning power, about 4 in the winter and 2 in the summer. The rest of the time is completely dead or with a trickle of shoulder season business. So you have to figure out how to make that work and how you may go from every table busy in ski season, to almost nothing in May.

Whatever you do you better bring big bucks, as real estate is very pricey and then you have your start up costs. Unless you are someone like Kelly Liken who had rich daddy pay all her bills and fund everything, coming off the street I'd say you'll need a big source of capital from somewhere.

The other reality is that if you have a serious job or are a business owner, ski season is primetime, hence there wont be much time for goofing off skiing. You'll have to prioritize whether skiing or running a successful business is more important.
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Old 02-04-2011, 04:00 PM
2,253 posts, read 5,864,128 times
Reputation: 2615
Wink How does one say this in Italian?

I can't help but chime in here, if having only a little experience in the restaurant business, but knowing that if suffers one of the highest turnovers despite the dedicated dreams of many.

In short, I second the advice of everyone to begin with employment in your chosen area, learn from that for a few years, and then assess your position from there.

As much as you might want your own place now, doing so would be akin to jumping into the deep end of the pool. With lead weights on. It is a hard enough business even if skilled, with contacts, and knowing what one is about. Give yourself every advantage, and some time, and maybe this dream can come true - for real.

My guess is that any of the larger ski resort communities might support such a restaurant. With the provision that your's will need to be tempting enough to take patrons from established restaurants. There is no shortage at the moment. The money can be there, but as others have pointed out one must adapt to a seasonal business model that can survive the many months of little business. Conversely, be able to properly meet the demand when people are lined up outside the door, in the cold, and wanting service now. Cooking school will help, but one can learn a great deal of the business in a short time even as a dishwasher.

Speaking of school, if this or something else keeps you from venturing to the mountains for 5 or 6 years you may find on arrival that the market is decidedly different than now. Maybe not. But it already is from just a couple years ago when everyone in this country assumed our economy and house prices would escalate forever. There will probably still be a demand for the service you have in mind, although you may discover just that much less business to go around.

Dreams are great. Although their realization depends not only first having them and holding persistently onto that, but in the art and skill of nurturing them to life.

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Old 02-04-2011, 04:09 PM
Location: On the sunny side of a mountain
2,984 posts, read 6,660,773 times
Reputation: 5743
Wanneroo- Can't begin to tell you how much I am enjoying the Kelly Liken comment. Thank you.

As far as opening a restaurant in a Colorado ski town, I hope you have a lot of money and no desire for any sort of life.

You'll have a degree in business so use it to write up a business plan. Research commercial rents, cost of a build out, liquor license, business license, insurance, utilities, marketing collateral, advertising, accounting/inventory system, linen rental, small wares, start up inventory, employee training. Write a menu, cost it out. Estimate how many covers you expect to do per day, figure out a per head average and multiply that out to estimate what you'll be able to take in yearly. Then take out all your expenses. Should end up being a very sad number.

If you really want to ski and work in a ski resort, just take a job with an established hotel or restaurant. You'll get industry experience, a pay check and have fun.

In your journey to become a chef, work for the best possible chefs you can. Who you work for early in your career will make all the difference in it's progression.
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Old 02-04-2011, 04:24 PM
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
196 posts, read 484,564 times
Reputation: 179
Ski resorts are oversaturated with Italian restaurants. You really have to be well known and establish to keep people coming. IN the resorts rent is outrageous, especially for not having much business in spring / fall. Summers are ok, b/c of the golfing season.
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Old 02-04-2011, 04:55 PM
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,131 posts, read 26,362,852 times
Reputation: 6816
You might consider doing this in a place like Durango which has pretty good year round tourist traffic. Not sure how they're already set for family style Italian but you should visit your target towns before making your decision and eat in all your potential competitors' establishments at various times of year to judge their strengths and weaknesses as well as the amount of business they're doing.
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Old 02-05-2011, 10:35 AM
1,742 posts, read 2,629,941 times
Reputation: 1923
Here's a turnkey place for you, just a cool 1.7 million. RP
415 E. Hyman Ave, Aspen, CO, 81611 - Restaurant Property for Sale on LoopNet.com
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Old 02-05-2011, 12:08 PM
Location: Montclair, NJ
454 posts, read 947,981 times
Reputation: 137
Factor in ther cost of a liquor license. that's where the money is. My bro in law had a restaurant in Winter Park and is now in restaurant wholesale. Can put you in touch if you message me.
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