- big budget
- urban periphery
- fast food / sandwich shop
Now's the Time !
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Before we begin, let me clear up a few points. This concept is not indented for gourmets but for future entrepreneurs. In order to successfully open the restaurant which I’m about to describe, you’ll need to fit a certain profile; either you have previous experience in fast-food management or you are an ambitious investor. In either case, you are obviously strongly independent –otherwise you would already be a franchisee.
Let’s take a closer look at the fast-food line of business. It’s very difficult to estimate the number of fast-food outlets world-wide today, but basing our estimate on the number of better-known brand names in the sector we could guess there are between 120,000 and 150,000, perhaps more. Make you dizzy?
Having worked with some of the better-known fast-food outlets, these giant cash generators have always held fascination for me. So, during the long months spent elaborating my concepts, I devoted much time to studying what the global fast-food industry has to offer, hoping to be inspired but also secretly hoping to find a new, highly efficient concept. And in the end I found it.
I started off with the premise that the fast-food sector has, in the developed world, reached maturity.
I’m French and I witnessed first-hand the introduction and development of fast-food in France. Indeed, France was a country which, on account of its renowned gastronomy, scared off the fast-food giants. But France, like every-where else, succumbed to the attraction of fast-food and can now count three real brand names which will altogether reach a total of 2,000 outlets in the near future. Better still, Mc Donald’s ® and KFC ® make their best sales turnover per outlet in France. Nobody thinks twice about eating fast-food nowadays- even senior citizens! Of course, there are still pew grumpy anti-fast-food die-hards about but I suppose there are still some of those left in the U.S. too!
I would say that the market is ripe and ready to embrace something other than the classic hamburger.
So, I looked for what was missing and this is what I found. Most surprising of all, this was what was missing globally- not even in the U.S. - could I find a trace of what I’m about to propose to you! I believe that if you grab this opportunity the most extraordinary career prospects will open up to you. After all, in business, everything’s a question of opportunity and timing.
And now is the time!
There are dozens of fast-food chains, of all sorts, especially in the U.S.
The one sort that doesn’t exist is a fast-food chain solely dedicated to seafood. I was stunned when I realized this. But in fact, it’s easy to explain why.
Almost all the fast-food chains are American and Americans are by-and-large a meat-eating population. Upon verification, they do indeed consume for less seafood than Europeans, who in turn consume for less than the Japanese. Which is why nobody in the U.S. has hit on the idea of creating a fast-food devoted to seafood. Yet I ‘m sure the concept would work just as well in the U.S.
Americans have a different approach to fast-food in general. They may snack several times a day in various fast-food restaurants whereas Europeans tend to go there for a proper meal. I am convinced that Americans would happily snack in a seafood outlet, if that option were open to them. Besides, they would have the added satisfaction of having eaten something beneficial to their diet (which does nobody any harm).
And when you think about it, there lies the key point for the success of this concept: food diversification. Not only do doctors and nutritionists advise us to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables per day but they also advise us to eat seafood at least three times a week. We live in an age when the working population turns to fast-food or street-food at lunch-time rather than the traditional sit-down meal. The under 30’s are the most regular customers. And, thanks to you, they will be able to improve their diet simply by changing the type of fast-food they eat.
No doubt you (like myself) know quite a few people who eat little or no meat.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to promote seafood or healthy living but let’s face it: people need to diversify their diets and eat more fish. Not only is this a fact, it’s also a great sales pitch!
However, I’m not altogether sure that the kind of food you’ll be serving will enthrall and dietician! This is fast-food the real McCoy, not one of those vaguely hip sandwich bars which, while claiming to be the healthy option, try to sell you yoghurt for the same price as a dozen at your local supermarket. Remember, real fast-food is there to make money, and lots of it!
The niche on the market has been identified; the reason why the need is there has been explained. Now, let’s look at the feasibility of the concept. The only thing that’s different from the usual fast-food is the menu. I therefore had to ensure that the food industry can provide enough ready-made produce to compile an attractive menu at a price rivaling traditional fast-food. And my findings were positive.
Let me give you a few examples of the type of food you’ll have on offer: you coned created various sorts of sandwiches. First of all, the classic fish in batter served in a bun with a tomato and lettuce garnish. This classic can be varied by using different sauces (eg: curry sauce) and there are different sorts of battered fish on the market (with cheese or tomato for example). You can also buy tuna or salmon burgers. I’m thinking “two salmon burger”: a salmon burger with 20g or 25g of smoked salmon piled on top served in either a traditional bun, a bagel or ciabatta bread. Salmon is terrific with béarnaise sauce, not bad served together in a bun! Tuna fish is perfectly foiled by a more Mediterranean seasoning.
You can also find some pre-grilled fish which lend themselves to all sorts of seasonings and sandwiches. When you think about it, the basic of traditional fast-food (chicken + minced beef) is even less varied. They only change the type of bread used, and the garnish, and that is what you will do too. However, you’ll have a wider choice of products and that is frankly what surprised me while working on this concept.
And what about wraps? All you have to do is fill your tortillas with fish nuggets, you could do a regular and a spicy version. You’ll be able to serve nuggets and fish-sticks in various quantities. I’d also advise putting deep-fried calamari (roman style) on the menu. And if you get them at the right price try serving shrimp in batter.
One last point: you should have three or four sea-food based salads. Again, there’s a wide choice of ingredients. Shrimp, tuna, surimi (processed crabmeat) won’t break the bank. Indeed, some suppliers can provide ready-made salads.
As you have seen, putting together a seafood based fast-food menu is not so difficult. Some of sandwiches will cost you a little more than the chicken or beef counter parts. This isn’t very important as much of your basic produce is cheap and you’ll get it at cost price. And the soda and fries that you serve with your fast-food won’t cost you any more than in a traditional fast-food.
I go into more detail about launching a restaurant in my other concepts and sometimes I even give a practically complete menu or a list of the culinary material specific to that concept. I won’t do that here because you are either a professional in the fast-food business and you know a lot more than me, or you are an investor who will enlist the help of the appropriate service supplies. And in either case you will of course need the help of an advertising agency to assist you in your opening.
On the other hand, when it comes to the choice of location, the decoration and calibration of your restaurant, this is where I can you help you so pay particular attention to the following advice.
It’s vital that your customers know they’re in a fast-food restaurant so you must have it all: the counter, the uniformed staff, the menu on a back-lit panel, bins available to collect the left-over’s and trays. I would even advise using the plastic furniture of bygone generations of fast-food.
Today’s fast-food outlets are generally 450 m2 or more. Perhaps you could start with a modest 300m2. Anyway, when your restaurant gets up and running, the chances are that you’ll want to open others and that point you can re-think size. Nor is there any point launching in a building with a drive-in… wait for at least the fifth or sixth outlet for that.
Now let’s talk about location. I can remember the very first McDonald’s in France, it was on the Champ Elysées, not at its present strategic location but in the basement of one of the lesser visited shopping malls on the avenue. This was the master franchisee and who ever that was, they sure got it wrong!
Either you set up in the center of a busy town with a catchment area of over 250,000 inhabitants or you set up in a retail park on the outskirts of a busy town with a catchment area comprising a large supermarket of at least 10,000 m2 and if possible a multiplex cinema. In both cases, look for proximity to the major fast-food brand names. Be wary of shopping malls, only consider them if they include cinemas to ensure an evening trade. Either way, pay special attention to your choice.
To sun up, I’m well aware choosing this concept is a real challenge. But I also firmly believe that you will be rewarded with success. And if, one day, you find yourself at the head of a network of thousands of restaurants, words won’t be able to describe my pride… and I’ll have no scruples in charging you a fortune to talk at your business conventions!