1. We bought equipment from a second-hand business
To start a restaurant, there are many hardware or equipment that you will need - from tables, chairs, ovens, stoves, pots, pans, culinary, to a cash register (I thought about not buying this, but my co-founders convinced me otherwise)!
The cost of purchasing all of these brand new could have easily cost more than $100,000 but we did not had that amount of capital, and hence went around to conducting a lot of research online to purchase the most reliable equipment at the more reasonable cost from different second-hand businesses, vendors and companies. We actually managed to procure an older cash register that has been used by three other businesses, but it worked perfectly well. For tables and chairs, we took a drive down to IKEA where we were able to purchase furniture at reasonable prices and self-assembled most of them with our friends and family. 2. Hire for excellence, not experience
Other than purchasing equipment and hardware, the cost of hiring is one of the biggest cost and barrier to starting a retail business. Having to hire on a shoestring budget, I was not able to look for people for extensive years of experience, instead, I sought to hire for people who were hungry, passionate and eager to learn. I hired for excellence and not experience.
In order to do so, I sought out applicants the traditional way, posting on the classified jobs section for various local newspapers, and managed all my hiring on an excel spreadsheet. I also manually used my phone to text these applicants and call them to coordinate for over 100 back to back in-person interviews in the course of 4 weeks so I could have a good sense of who is good culture fit for the team. I also devised different questions using online forms for initial screening to have a good sense of their availability, personality fit, and skill sets.
My experiences in hiring hourly workers for my Thai food restaurant was also one of the inspiration for me starting Workstream
today, as I personally witnessed and felt the pain of hiring and onboarding hourly and retail workers. 3. We created a menu which overlapped different ingredients
In order to keep the cost of goods low, we devised a menu that had at least 50% overlap for every single main dish that we were selling, and tried to limit the number of main dishes to less than seven dishes. For example, we would use the same chicken meat for Tom Yum Curry Chicken, Pineapple Fried Rice and Pad Thai, and will also use the same peanuts and vegetables for different dishes as best as we can. We also tried to outsource the drinks and desserts that we sold by procuring them from a vendor that we knew complemented our food well, reducing the amount of overheads, cost and time from preparing the food on our own.