Relaxing in a restaurant, satisfied after a good meal and maybe a glass of wine, it’s easy to dream about what it would be like to own the place.
What has kept this dream at bay, for me at least, is having two friends who invested in restaurants and struggled mightily. One spends every weekend working in the kitchen after spending the week working on Wall Street. The other told me recently that he was still dealing with financial claims from a Manhattan restaurant that closed a year ago, when his former partner moved to Los Angeles.
These are the type of stories that give investing in restaurants a bad name. But plenty of people find ways to run restaurants profitably and make a good deal of money from the enterprise. Bobby Flay , the celebrity chef and owner of Mesa Grill , has done well enough to be part of a group that owns thoroughbred horses. But like people who succeed at financing films, the most successful restaurant investors do not let their dreams get in the way of a focus on the numbers.
Restaurant sales are projected to be a record $632 billion this year, up 3.5 percent from 2011, said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president for research and knowledge at the National Restaurant Association . And, he noted, Americans now spend 48 percent of their food budget on eating out.Page 1 of 7 | Next Page