With all the “fake news” nowadays, it’s hard to know how to separate the true from the false, often causing confusion and worry. This applies to the food industry as well: Daunting statistics about restaurant failures, expenses, etc., can leave you unsure about what to expect for your own restaurant. We’ve tackled some popular food myths, to give you a little more insight into what running a restaurant is actually like. (And we threw in a few weird and quirky myths too, just for fun.)
1. 90% of restaurants fail in the first year.
This percentage is not true. The truth is, a ton of restaurants do fail in the first year, but that number is only around 60%, not 90%, according to a study published by Cornell University. When Business Insider interviewed Robert Irvine, host of Restaurant: Impossible, he attributed restaurant failure to the owners’ inexperience and lack of understanding of the demands of opening a restaurant.
2. You can use Kickstarter to start a restaurant.
Yes and no. While Kickstarter has its benefits and does allow you to start a campaign for a restaurant, it’s no walk in the park. Most restaurant Kickstarters have raised anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars…but some goals were in excess of $300,000! Though many restaurant campaigns are genuine and seem promising, it’s tough to get backers to pledge hundreds of thousands of dollars toward something that doesn’t exist yet.
3. Startup costs will run you about $100,000.
You’re lucky if that’s all you pay. According to Forbes, opening a restaurant can cost anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000 on the low end—but that only includes commercial kitchen equipment, tables, chairs…the basics. There are other factors to consider, such as liquor licenses and marketing costs. Liquor licenses vary greatly across the country but can run you more than $1 million in certain states.
4. As long as you serve delicious food, your restaurant will be successful.
No, no, no. There is much more that goes into running a successful restaurant than just the food. If you have excellent food but service that makes diners wait 45 minutes for an appetizer, don’t expect to receive positive Yelp reviews. If you have excellent food but employees who can’t be trusted, don’t expect profits to flourish. If you have excellent food but prices that are through the roof, don’t expect to get regulars stopping in all the time. In addition to great food, strong management and great customer service are paramount.
5. If the food tastes good, it doesn’t matter what’s in it.
This may have been true years ago, but not anymore. Nowadays, people are more concerned than ever about what they’re putting into their bodies. A study done by Rutgers University in 2013 found that 82% of people read food labels when shopping. That could explain why farm-to-table restaurants have been popping up all over. People want locally sourced foods and a clear understanding of what they’re consuming.
And a few fun food myths debunked….
How picky are celebrities about the foods they allow on tour?
There have been some wacky reports about what celebrities like and dislike when they’re on tour, from Beyoncé only drinking out of $900 titanium straws to Eminem requiring Lunchables snacks in his dressing room. But how can we confirm the truth? It seems as though no matter how many reports come out, we’ll never really get good insight into whether Taylor Swift needs three boxes of macaroni and cheese in her dressing room. However, Business Insider did publish an illuminating 2012 article about which foods and drinks top celebrities—from Paul McCartney to Lady Gaga—actually prefer. (Spoiler alert: Celebrities seem to love their Red Bull.)
Was Coca-Cola actually made with cocaine?
Believe it or not, yes…but not in the same pure white form we think of it as today. Coca-Cola, introduced in 1886, actually had a coca-leaf extract in the beverage; the extract had been used as a medicinal stimulant for years. When mixed with caffeine, it created an intense energy rush. It wasn’t until 1929 that Coca-Cola finally removed all cocaine from its product, even though the drug was outlawed in 1914.
If you swallow gum, it stays in your body for seven years…right?
By now you might have realized that this doesn’t make a lot of sense, but don’t pretend you didn’t believe it as a child. The thing about gum is that your body actually can’t break it down, which is why you shouldn’t swallow it. That’s because a lot of gum is made with butyl rubber—the same rubber that’s used to make inner tubes. With that said, chewing gum will likely find its way out (but if you swallow enough, it could give you some problems).
Well, there you have it—60% of restaurants fail in the first year, customer service is just as important as the food, and chewing gum does not stay in your body for seven years. All these myths, fact or fiction, are important to understand when deciding whether or not to open a restaurant (except for maybe those last ones).