Guide to Starting a Successful Lunch Spot in San Francisco

Starting a business is and has never been easy. There are many factors to consider and you need to have a solid plan to really be successful. Follow this guide closely and you will be well on your way to running a successful lunch spot in San Francisco.

Price your menu appropriately

First consider the cost of your ingredients, labor, and overhead – this is called your Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) and it is totally irrelevant when pricing out your menu. Generally around $18 for a sandwich is a reasonable price. Remember if your prices are too low, the meal will be perceived as cheap and lower quality, so try to make sure your customers feel like they just got mugged.

Add unique ingredients to the menu items

Horse tongue with roasted fennel, sriracha whipped cream and maple-bacon relish sounds mouthwatering doesn’t it? Adding obscure ingredients to your menu will further justify your prices being slightly higher than a used car. When you’re drawing up the menu, feel free to make up words to list as ingredients. A good way to think of it is the more confused your customers are the less likely they’ll be to complain. If they do complain you can just tell them that they have an unrefined palate.

Choose a memorable theme

This is one of the most important things that you’ll do when planning the business. Having a memorable theme is important as it will create a mental anchor for your patrons and will encourage repeat business. I generally like to be subtle when picking a theme for my businesses. My most famous restaurant is called “Gumshoe” and the theme is that we have thousands of used gumballs applied to the floor. Our theme works well because patrons notice it immediately upon entering the restaurant and it really sticks out as unique in their minds. This theme has a side benefit in that our customers tend to spend more money while they’re inside since their feet are stuck to the floor and it is very difficult for them to leave.

Generate a buzz

If you’ve been following the rest of the tips so far this part shouldn’t be too difficult. Your goal here should be to get a line going out the door, down the sidewalk, and around the block. Ultimately you want passersby to not know why there is a line. This will cause them to wait in the line. The line should be so intrusive to the flow of foot traffic that people have no choice but to stand in it if they want to get past your location – this is a very common tactic used by restaurants in San Francisco. If you’re unable to initially generate some buzz, consider hiring people from the internet to congregate outside of the building. You can offer to pay them with your sandwiches that cost more than what a minimum wage job pays.

Don’t offer public restrooms

You’d be doing yourself a great disservice if you offer public toilets. While a restroom may seem like it would be convenient, plumbing bills can be very expensive and can wreck your business. Not having a bathroom also ensures that you always have employees available to make sandwiches since you won’t have to worry about them taking unnecessary breaks from work. Not having bathrooms works especially well if the theme that you chose is sanitation-related.

Get some Yelp reviews

Like it or not, positive yelp reviews are vital to any local business these days. Whenever it seems like a customer has a good experience, encourage them to get online and post about it. Likewise, negative reviews can ruin your business as people will be less likely to visit. Whenever it seems like a customer has a negative experience, you should try to get their personal information so that you can call them and yell at them if they give you a bad review. Most people don’t really care about their privacy, but not everyone is willing to fork over their personal information to restaurants. In these rare cases, unfortunately you’re just going to have to pay Yelp to take them down. Unfortunately this is very expensive. The cost to remove a negative review is about 4 and a half sandwiches.

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