I'm looking for real answers......and I'm dead serious about this adventure
Coming from over a decade of restaurant experience i can say that it's very difficult from a financial standpoint. Here are the tips I can offer. Incidentally, in many big cities, there is a big trend to return to this kind of eating, even offal is experiencing a "chic" moment, so this could be a decent time to do something like this.
look for used kitchen equipment. lots of restaurants go out of business all the time, and kitchen equipment is Pricey!
Read every Anthony Bourdain book you can get your hands on.
Food trucks are huge right now. I'm in Northern California and we have these big food truck gatherings and festivals. Perhaps renting a food truck from someone to test market would be the way to go. There is also the option to have an underground supper club.
We used to have a restaurant out here that only served burgers, absolutely nothing else. No shakes, no fries nada. He only served grassfed too. The lines were crazy long like In-N-Out epic long. It worked just selling that one item.
One last thought - I don't know if you really need to say it is a Paleo restaurant. Putting it out there as gluten-free, grassfed, healthy is enough. I have Paleo dinner parties and no one catches on that I'm serving up Paleo. No one asks for the bread since I cook up the veggies in real buttah and the meat is exquisite. You'd probably appeal to a wider audience without the paleo spin and serving up some mean ass carnivore grub.
Hi all, So we are trying it. About three months ago we opened a small Paleo restaurant in Berlin, Germany where we live, in an young, upcoming but still relatively poor neighbourhood. We just started it out of love for the paleo food and lifestyle. Our place is very small, with about 30 seats (50 on a sunny day, when we can put a terrace) but even for this we are working from early morning till late at night to get everything done. It's unimaginable how much work this is and often people don't get that. Paleo is completely unknown here, so people do not realise at all what the benefit of organic, grassfed meat or homemade suet, ghee or lard is. They don't know how hard it is to make a Paleo bread substitute (because if we learned something: you NEED a bread substitute, or you'll never convince the traditional restaurant clientèle), so you can not charge very high prices. As long as there is no general conscience about Paleo there is no way of making this concept economically interesting. You have to be crazy to do it, but we love it. We work our asses of with no profit, but we do seem to be the first paleo restaurant in the World (for sure the first in europe, and although i was convinced that somewhere in the US there must be someone doing it, i haven't found anything yet), so we get amazingly a lot of media attention. National television, newspapers and radio, blogwriters etc... all like to spread the message that these weird modern cavemen are selling food that automatically makes you thin :) A superficial message, but hopefully in the long run, it brings some sustainable awareness about the paleo joy and knowledge. Best regards, Boris & Rodrigo from Sauvage. www.sauvageberlin.com
I would say an essential component would be meat preparation so exquisite it sends all thoughts of buttered rolls and ice cream deserts flying from a person's mind. That's the way you're going to win people over, since nobody except us wackos goes to a restaurant where they can't get some form of grains and dairy unless the ribs are amazing.
Waitresses dressed in sexy primal attire would also help.
Search, if you haven't already, the term "Restaurant". I won't list all topics here since you've replied in most but I think some of them are good indicators of what people count as "paleo restaurant".
It seems we have two questions.
1 - My first instinct when hearing "x is Paleo" is to run therefore advertising "It's Paleo !!" would a fail in my opinion. I dig something "manly" like "Real Food only, no soy allow" (just throwing it out there) a lot more.
As for food, well real food. One frankenfood is one too many. It should not be an elitistic thing though. Having affordable grain-fed beef (if grass-fed is $$$**) can go a long way.
2 - There is a thread "Which hood ya represent" that might give some indicators on where "paleo" population is most concentrated but that might not be all. Restaurant situation at the area, financial ability of the residents, ...
Overall my "paleo" restaurant needs to have balls. We're basically saying fuck off to the government so encouraging that decision seem to be the way to go. Candy cigarettes ? Nah.
And don't forget "controversial" advertising (kill, blood, hunt, Harris/Nikoley oneliners) !
** Or it might be not "Pastured meats cost an average of 15% more than commodity meats available at supermarkets."
From my experience, this may be very difficult depending ou what price range you plan to offer your food. If you are targeting the "fast-casual" market with an plate charge of $10-$14' you're gonna be in trouble. Paleo food is expensive to produce higher protein portions and produce portions. Keep in mind, your cost of plating a menu item needs to be 25-30% of your sale price in order for your to make a profit (in most restaurant models).
Also, depending on how paleo you want to be....meaning cage free eggs, grass fed, no antibiotics, no hormones, etc.....all the way down to the spices you use not being treated with the different additives needed to keep them fresh.....you're cost of goods will only be higher. This would in turn mean either a higher sale price, or lower profit margins.
Most paleo entrees I serve in my operation (catering) end up being in the $18-$24 price range.
I do like the comment I read above regarding attempting a food truck. This might be a great way to test out different markets.
You may as well just be a french restaurant.
EDIT: I'm talking about a real french restaurant, the kind you'd find in France with food as you'd find in France, not some bastardised version designed for an American mass market. The majority of meals would be made from real ingredients. Paleo people would find many options to choose from, be plenty of options that had no bread, rice, potatos etc (or very little). Food would be cooked in butter or lard or duck fat or similar. Dessert would be relatively low in sugar and served in very small portions. If by French Bread you mean a baguette, then yes, why not serve them to those that ask for them? It's not like they'd be compulsory.
Sous vide is a great way to deliver cheap cuts... I'd love for someone to do in restaurants what the Eades have done in appliances: slipped in Paleo, obliquely. The restaurant could support a thriving "to go" side business in frozen Cryovacs...
I think it would be fun to name dishes "the Michael Pollan" or "the Gary Taubes". The "Kurt Harris" dessert would consist of five slices of apple, but the waiter comes back a minute later and takes away four.
That gives me a serious idea for a concept restaurant, where the menu keeps changing to follow recent recipes from food writers and TV chefs. Example: if Mark Bittman wrote about it in the last 4 weeks, you'll find it on the menu.
What would make it a success?
Really good food at an even better price point. I think that diners will respond to great food. Especially food that will make them feel good for themselves, and for everyone else (from a sustainability standpoint - think locally sources, ethically raised etc.).
After watching copius amounts of DDD's (Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives), I think that good food will resonate with people wherever you put it. And paleo food made well is the best food on earth - so I think that it will succeed wherever you put it.
I don't think it's a good idea.
1) There really aren't many paleo-eaters, despite how burgeoning the movement seems. If you really think about the critical mass needed to support a restaurant in a single location, I think you'd find it difficult to justify. You need a concentration of people, and even if you found this concentration, the odds that it would be in a location you're willing to move to seem slim, unless you're willing to change everything in order to embark on such a venture.
2) I think many people who eat paleo also like cooking, or feel that it's a healthier way to live. It seems like a contradictory notion to embrace paleolithic customs while also being reliant on others to cook for you. And yeah it's not a re-enactment and people do eat out, but I still think your audience isn't going to be clamoring for a themed restaurant. Plus, most restaurants serve paleo-compatible meals. I think most people are fine with ordering a steak and braving the potential gluten contamination.
This is a fun thing to think about but I don't think it's justifiable, economically.