Behind-the-Scenes of Restaurant Startup with Tim Love

Behind-the-Scenes of Restaurant Startup with Tim Love
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Behind-the-Scenes of Restaurant Startup with Tim Love

Read on to get a behind-the-scenes look at the show Restaurant Startup with Tim Love.

Why he got involved

"This show really kind of fits me to a T," Tim shares. "I love the excitement of opening a restaurant, but more importantly, I like combining the creative side with the business side. This show is truly the only real look at the restaurant business. It's not 'who can cook an egg the fastest' and it's not a 'who can cut more potatoes quicker than the other guy.' It's truly about seeing young entrepreneurs with an idea they think is worthy of opening a restaurant, and putting it in front of a couple of guys who have a lot of experience, and [hoping they] get the chance," Tim shares.

Image Credit: Bravo via NBCUniversal

It's different now than it was then

Tim stresses the fact that opening a restaurant now is not what it was like when he opened his first. He used all of his own money at the time, but then, only needed about $75,000 to make it happen. "Granted, I hammered every nail and everything in the place, but today it's hard to open a restaurant for less than a quarter million dollars," Tim says. "Young people just don't have that kind of money. I certainly didn't. So we get to be these kind of angel investors. We get to look and see under the hood of what's happening in their business. We put them through a little trial period. It's like getting to test drive a car. How often do you get to do that in the business world? We're pretty tough on them, but if you're offering up around $250,000, I think anyone in the world would be tough on the candidates."

Image Credit: CNBC via NBCUniversal

Looking for something fresh

"I kind of look for the same things that I do when I go out to dinner: Something original, something new, something fresh," Tim says. He's also interested in people who can execute well and present themselves well, in addition to being able to speak well. "All simple, little things that you'd think everybody would have together when they get in front of somebody to ask them for a half a million bucks, but you'd be surprised at the comedy that we get sometimes," Tim jokes.

Image Credit: CNBC via NBCUniversal

Who he's been impressed by

"I thought the congee guys were really good," Tim notes. "Their food was really delicious, and I loved the idea. It was very fresh and new. Certainly congee has been around since the beginning of time, but so has ramen, and now all the sudden ramen has made a comeback. It's very similar to what a ramen house would do… Plus, they've got some authenticity behind them," Tim explains.

Tim looks for that authentic vibe from a chef who has background rooted in the type of cuisine he or she cooks. "I really look for authenticity, and especially authenticity in the food," he says.

Image Credit: CNBC via NBCUniversal

Biggest mistake aspiring restaurant owners make

Tim says that many people who want to start their own restaurant businesses, like some of the contestants, don't consider everything that goes into it. "They think because all their friends come over and tell them that the make the best rib eye in the world that they should open up a steakhouse, and that's not the case," Tim explains. "Cooking six steaks for your friends is a lot different than cooking 300 of them in a different sequence and serving them at different times, in different styles and at different temperatures. We put them into operations, and suddenly everything starts changing. So if they've had no experience in the restaurant business itself, it comes through very quickly."

Image Credit: Frederick M. Brown via Getty Images Entertainment

Making tough decisions

Tim admits that a few investment decisions have been difficult. "There [are] a couple people that I really wanted to do a deal with, and they just wouldn't budge. They thought their shoes were worth a lot more than they really were. At the end of the day, it's a business decision. Even though they may make fried chicken that's better than anybody else in the world, which gives them a great competitive advantage, it doesn't mean it's worth 2 million bucks," Tim says. "I mean, we're giving them real sweetheart deals as it is. There's not many people out there that get 50% of a restaurant when they've never operated one before for real, with no skin in the game."

Image Credit: Kevin Parry via WireImage

Every deal is special

"It gets real particular towards the end, when you start arguing over what the value is and how much equity there is and who's going to get money out first. Every deal I do on the show, I get money out first. If I'm going to give you 500 grand, I'm going to get 500 grand before anybody else gets any money," Tim explains. "Those type of things, all of it effects the decision, every bit of it. Every deal is special. No deals are the same, which quite frankly is what entices me about the show. I love it, when we get down to the nitty gritty."

Image Credit: Bravo via NBCUniversal

What it's like working with Joe

"Joe is such a great partner for me, because a lot of times we think alike, and a lot of times we think opposite," Tim shares. "It makes it a lot of fun on the show. Even after the show, we're having a glass of wine, and we're still arguing."

Image Credit: CNBC via NBCUniversal

Putting the reality back in reality TV

Tim makes it clear that the show is very real, and he and Joe wouldn't have it any other way. "We both made it very clear that we were not going to be produced in this type of situation," Tim says. "There's too much money at stake. We really are trying to put the reality back in reality TV. Everything you see is happening live and un-produced."

Because time is limited on television, Tim shares that viewers may see a 6-minute segment, but in reality the investors are there for 45 minutes to an hour sometimes, debating back and forth. "We don't go off-set and have any conversations. It's all on the set. We purposefully do that, because we want people to understand that it's real, and I think that's what makes the show actually compelling," Tim says.

Image Credit: CNBC via NBCUniversal

The most memorable moment

"When I did my very first deal and I set in with me that I was writing a check for $150,000 — that was pretty memorable," Tim says. "Honestly, you get caught up in the TV side of it. Even though I'm concentrating on what's happening. You feel like it's not real. Then all the sudden, it is real. Joe and I put over $1 million into these places in the first season, which is amazing. It's great for these guys and girls. If I could've had that opportunity, who knows what could've happened."

Image Credit: Frederick M. Brown via Getty Images Entertainment


With five restaurants under his belt, it's safe to say that chef Tim Love knows a thing or two about starting a restaurant business. That's a big part of the reason why he signed on to be part of the CNBC show Restaurant Startup, which he stars in with fellow restaurateur Joe Bastianich. Each week, Tim and Joe hear food concepts from aspiring restaurant owners who want the businessmen to invest in their ideas. Tim and Joe put the contestants to the test to see what they're made of, then they duke it out for a chance to either invest, or send the contestants packing.

Tim told us that he loves the show because it's a real look at the restaurant business that many viewers haven't seen. "It's truly about seeing young entrepreneurs with an idea they think is worthy of opening a restaurant, and putting it in front of a couple of guys who have a lot of experience, and [hoping they] get the chance," Tim shares.

He gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the show, including who he's been really impressed by, and what those moments of debate with Joe are really like.

Check out the slideshow above to get a behind-the-scenes view of the show Restaurant Startup. Then, discover 10 facts you didn't know about Tim Love, find out what he's learned from his experience opening restaurants, learn his secrets to restaurant success and take a peek inside his home kitchen!

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