June 21, 2012
Thoughts of a restaurateur: Are you really ready to run a business?

I get lots of emails, but there's one each month I always make sure I read -- the newsletter from Cafe Luna's co-owner David Van Buskirk. It's smart, funny, poignant and always entertaining. The restaurant is in Placerville and is always a good bet for creative and delicious food, good wine and an enjoyable dining experience.

Van Buskirk's latest missive covers all kinds of terrain, but I wanted to excerpt one area because it touches on unrealistic expectations of starting a business. It certainly applies to some who go into the restaurant business and think it will be sort of glamorous and fun.

Here's what Van Buskirk wrote:

Speaking of business on Main Street: I don't know if you know this, but Gary and I own Creekside Place where Cafe Luna is housed. We rent the spaces out to people looking for a business opportunity for themselves. But lately, we are shocked by what a new person - never in business before - anticipates for their business. Owning a business is not part time. It is not something that you 'dabble' in. It is a commitment: of your time, your energy, your funds. And ultimately, it is rewarded with loyalty from your customers. We are always shocked when people expect a business to make money right out of the entrance. Not gonna happen. You build up your clientele, you build up YOUR REPUTATION, you build up the basis for repeat business from what you provide. You get your name out there and you work.

"You do not sit back and do nothing and expect to have customers come in and thank you for being there: you have to let customers and people know what you are doing and what you provide and make them want to use you and your services.

"Main Street Placerville is a great example of small-town America, and what the country is suffering from. Empty shops and vacancies waiting for the right ambitious people to come along and turn things around. We need forward thinking people right here on Main Street: open up some new and unusual shops and services people want to see stick around and support. Build up your reputation and following. Be gracious and friendly. Say "Hello" to people when they enter your shop, and say "Thank you for coming" when they leave. Give a customer a reason to come back."

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