Come One, Come All

I have been in the restaurant industry for 17 years, and in the wake of Hurricane Katrina I branched out and opened five restaurants, one of which is in another state. That location is debt-free, but it lacks customers. How can I get more exposure or capial so I can reach more people?

– T. Joseph Sr., Via the Internet

Your gumption to pursue entrepreneurship in light of adversity is commendable. The out-of-state location may be debt-free, but if you cannot generate enough foot traffic to cover the overhead, advertise the business, and pay employees, then your break just becomes a burden.

Palates can be peculiar, so it pays to know your customers. What works in one area may not work in another. Try incorporating a little local flavor into the menu offering to attract new customers.

Also, talk with local business owners to see whether they face similar challenges. If they do, you may want to team up to try cost-effective cooperative advertising, where ads are shared by two or more businesses.

Another optin is to join the National Restaurant Association (www.restaurant.org), which will put you in touch with specialized consultants who can help promote your restaurant

Read The Restaurant Manager’s Handbook: How to Set Up, Operate and Manage a Financially Successful Food Service Operation by Douglas Robert Brown (Atlantic Publishing Co.; $79.95).

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