There are some things in life no one tells you, so you can figure it out on your own. They say what doesn’t break you, makes you. We don’t quite agree. While working on opening Oxheart for the last couple months, there were plenty of times we had some palm-to-forehead type of moments where we wished that we had someone to have given us some friendly advice. Often, we’ve just written them off as something we can talk about/laugh about later.
But, if you happen to be stuck in the dilemma of opening up your first business, here are some friendly tips.
- Liftgate Services – Adding liftgate services to your freight delivery does not mean they will deliver into your building. It just means that without a loading dock, the half ton package, your beloved stove that your wife ran around NYC trying to buy in cash to save a few bucks, can and will be lowered to your curb. If for some reason this does happen, make friends, bribe them with beer, and strap down for hours worth of work of moving that thing up two steps inch-by-inch. Or, go to Home Depot and buy materials to make a ramp and be lucky enough to have your place of business close enough to another business that has a pallet jack. Lesson learned.
- Buy equipment that will fit through the door – or buy a door that will fit your equipment. Better yet, take a hacksaw to your door before any of the equipment comes in. Also: make sure you have a tape measure. Lots of tape measures.
- Learn how to work the auction circuit (or just talk to Kevin Floyd from Hay Merchant a lot.) Remember there is an up-charge to each purchase so bid under your budgeted amount. Also remember when bidding that you’re probably going to have to pay to get it to the restaurant. Come early and stay late — there is no pattern to the lowest bids and best deals. Also, don’t bid against the refrigeration dealer because the pros always win
- Get to know your local restaurant supply stores. Stainless steel sheets and trim don’t come cheap. They also cut delicate fingers. Especially delicate sommelier fingers that are normally only used to the dust that they brush off old bottles being the roughest surface that they touch. So wear gloves.
- Hire an employee with a truck – it comes in super handy.
- Grease that’s been on the floor for decades doesn’t come off with power-washer, or a slightly diluted concentrated degreaser, or a lye solution, or any sort of elbow grease. I guess we’ll have to learn how to re-tile the floor ourselves.
- If you’re trying to restore antiques, hire someone who cares about each step. Opening Oxheart has been like raising a child, you learn more about it and hold its hand each step of the way. Case and point: the progression of our door. Thanks to Ayn for refinishing it for us and Adkins Antiques for having such a cool door. Just seeing it from when we first saw it in the store, to cutting open our frame, to scraping (and scraping, and scraping) paint, to stripping paint, to sanding (and sanding, and sanding) it down has been a joy to see. It should be done sometime next week– you all should come and check it out!
- Maybe most of all though: try to enjoy the process. You only open your first business once.