Korean barbecue consists of marinated beef or pork dishes created with a soy-based sauce. This delicacy in Korea is fairly new to the United States and therefore the opportunity to open a restaurant dedicated to Korean barbecue is becoming a hit. Opening a restaurant requires a lot of planning, time and financing. Though it's a lot of work, the payoff may be worth it for a person that takes the time to start a restaurant out right.
Decide on a serving style for your restaurant. Restaurants have three serving styles: upscale service, midscale service and fast food or takeout. Decide the serving style you will use for your Korean barbecue restaurant or choose a combination of two, such as a midscale dining restaurant that offers takeout services.
Develop a business plan for your Korean barbecue restaurant. A business plan will help you decide the amount of startup costs you'll need, forecast expenses over the next few years and give an idea of when the restaurant will start to make a profit. Use the business plan to gather funding to open the restaurant as well.
Select a location. The location should be visible from the street and not hidden by similar restaurants, signage or large buildings. Make sure your location is close enough to the main road if you intend to do takeout or fast food service since people do not like to drive far for fast food.
Select equipment needed for the restaurant. Restaurants need dining room equipment, but also kitchen and storage equipment. Items for a Korean barbecue restaurant can include teppanyaki griddles, rice cookers, electric wok stations and steamers. Contact local restaurants to find out their equipment suppliers. Consider hiring an equipment consultant from a local supply house to come and help you select your equipment based on the space you have to work with.
Hire a chef. Unless you're an expert at Korean barbecue, hire a chef that has trained and worked in a Korean barbecue restaurant for several years. Customers pay for authentic cuisine, which untrained chefs will not provide.
Use your chef’s knowledge to create a menu and set up the kitchen. Create a menu before ordering food supplies. The menu must reflect the type of service you are providing. For example, quick-service or fast food barbecue restaurants must have menu items that are easy and quickly prepared such as Korean barbecue shortrib skewers or wraps. Restaurants that have sit-down dining need more elaborate dishes. These may include grilled pork belly, a lettuce wrap platter with grilled beef, and sides of pickled vegetables, kimchi, chilies and bean paste. Visit other Korean barbecue restaurants similar in service style to yours to get an idea of menu items they are serving.
Order food supplies to suit the menu. Purchase generic food items like rice and meats from a main food supplier. Purchase authentic ingredients such as Korean spices, marinades and other items specific to the Korean barbecue from a local Korean market.
Test out the menu for the first few weeks of service. Decide what items are bestsellers and what items people don't order. Consult the chef again to make changes and perfect the menu to the service style and the tastes of your customers.
- All Food Business: Starting Your Own Restaurant
- Entrepreneur: How to Start a Restaurant: October 2009
- Forbes.com; How To Run A Restaurant: Start-Up Costs; Maureen Farrell; February 2007
- Asian Equipment World: Restaurant Equipment
- The Food Section: Korean Barbecue Dos and Don'ts
- NPR: A Hard-to-Kick Habit; Korean Barbecue Short Ribs; Howard Yoon; August 2005