Jamaican Restaurant image1By Justin Peart, CMO/CIO┬áSouth Florida Caribbean….

There are over 500 Caribbean restaurants (large, small, eat-in, take-out, catering, quick setup, event-linked) in the tri-county South Florida area… Miami Dade, Broward, Palm Beach catering to the Caribbean community and others who are enchanted or just like Caribbean food….. Jerked, strewed, curried, roasted, escoveitched, steamed…. however you like it, there is a Caribbean restaurant to cater to your needs….

BUT not everyone can cook.The restaurant business can be relatively easy to get into with the main barriers not having to do so much with ability to cook. Instead the main challenges are ability to pay for a location, acquire the required equipment and obtain the required licenses and permits from state, county and city agencies. Therein lies the problem as one does not have to be able to cook tasty food, which is a basic requirement for sustainability….

This leads to a high turnover as although new restaurants may draw a lot of interest from patrons looking for the next new thing, one bad experience is all it takes for the bad WOM (Word of Mouth) to get around and soon it will be time to face reality and close the shutters.

KD004Then there is the $3.99 special from 11am – 2pm… which just about every other restaurant is doing right now to pull in the lunch crowd. This is great for customers but will extremely low prices allow the restaurant to cover its operational expenses. Likely not…. Even at $3.99, taste and presentation are important or else the restaurant will not survive for too long. Restaurants may be better off focusing on other variables, product taste, restaurant decor, customer service rather than driving themselves into the ground with price competition

A fundamental step to establishing any business is ensuring that proper research is done first. Especially in the competitive restaurant business, one needs to determine the demand for Caribbean food in the community of interest, also the type of Caribbean food: Haitian, Bahamian, Cuban, Jamaican. Other issues that should be determined up front include how much people are willing to pay, whether potential clients prefer to eat in or take-out, the number of meals that are likely to be served on a daily basis, the investment required and whether the business generated will be enough to cover the overall expenses: rent, food costs, payroll, advertising and utilities. It is better to spend the time finding this out before diving in and finding that the “water is so cold, that you have to jump back out.”

If anyone decides to get into the restaurant business, always seek to offer something different, something special that will make your restaurant stand out from being just another Caribbean restaurant “trying a t’ing”. Research, good planning and differentiation may not guarantee success but at least it will give a fighting chance.