Chef Tim Love's Own Restaurant Startups

Chef Tim Love's Own Restaurant Startups
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Chef Tim Love's Own Restaurant Startups

Read on to discover what chef Tim Love has learned from his experience in the restaurant business.

One of the most difficult aspects

"I think one of the hardest things about opening restaurants is, as a creative person, you like things to happen in a very quick motion," Tim shares. "You have an idea, and you want to continue to build on the idea. As you build a restaurant for the first time especially, you realize there are so many hurdles and red tape just to make things start to happen, which causes a lot of unease throughout the process." Tim says that even compared to 15 years ago when he started his first restaurant, those hurdles are a bit tougher for young aspiring restaurant owners today.

Image Credit: Bravo via NBCUniversal

The hurdle of cost

Tim says that he drew his first restaurant plans on some construction paper with a ruler, stapled it all together and submitted it. Needless, to say, that doesn't fly anymore in the restaurant business. "It costs more, it takes more time, and those kinds of hurdles will slow you [down] and you get a little discouraged. You lose some confidence," Tim shares.

He also notes that people are most surprised by how much it winds up costing to open a restaurant. Just because a person has a menu and knows how to cook all of the food, doesn't mean that the process will go smoothly. "To actually build the space … it can be a real beating," Tim shares.

Image Credit: Larry Busacca via Getty Images Entertainment

A critical friend is a necessity

"I wish I had all the relationships that I have when I started, so [I could have called] people and get advice like I'm getting right now," says Tim, who notes that friends are great to run ideas by and receive input from. "I'm opening a restaurant this fall, and I will call all my friends that I know and run everything by them. I'm going to let them shoot holes in it because that's the best way. If you don't have friends that'll shoot holes in your ideas, you don't have really good friends."

Image Credit: Bravo via NBCUniversal

The highlight of everything

"The best part about opening a restaurant is clearly the opening night," Tim shares. "There's no better feeling than when you're about to open the door. The anticipation of the guests, the anticipation of your staff, the elation that happens when you really start cranking out food and people are actually paying for it. You're not giving it away anymore. I mean, everything changes when the first dollar comes across the table."

Image Credit: Bravo via NBCUniversal

What transforms on opening night

Tim says that when someone starts paying for your food, the critique becomes different. You may be used to cooking for friends and family, but when strangers start paying for your food, they anticipate experiencing a little more, and the momentum of everything changes. "That's the great thing about opening day. All that stuff is coming. You're about to figure out how the whole world works in about 4 hours, and there's a lot of excitement around that, and at the end of that night, sitting down and having that first cocktail when you finish, is just a really exciting feeling," he says.

Image Credit: Bravo via NBCUniversal

A piece of advice

"Keep your restaurant focused," Tim advises. "Pick a vision for the restaurant. Understand that vision, and run it by some people who are very smart, and then once you open, stay focused. "Just because somebody says they want chicken on their salad, don't go out and print another menu that says 'add chicken' on it. I'm being very simple here, but what's going to please everybody is the fact that you're very good at what you do and you're consistent with what you do, not adding an extra item on the menu because that person wanted that item. You need to pick a focus for the restaurant. Don't try to please everybody."

Image Credit: Larry Busacca via Getty Images Entertainment


Chef Tim Love has opened many restaurants, and he still finds a special magic in the excitement of that opening night. Now he gets to use his experience in the restaurant business on the show Restaurant Startup, where he and fellow restaurateur Joe Bastianich battle it out to invest in food concepts presented to them by contestants.

From his own experience, Tim knows the process is no walk in the park, and there are a lot of things aspiring restaurant owners need to consider. He shared with us the hardest thing he's encountered in opening restaurants, his best advice about what to expect when opening one, and how he personally overcomes the common hurdles in the restaurant business.

Check out the slideshow above to discover what Tim has learned from his very own restaurant startups.

Then, find out 10 things you didn't know about the Western chef, learn his secrets to restaurant success, get a behind-the-scenes look at his show Restaurant Startup and take a peek inside his home kitchen!

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