Kevin Rathbun, 51, is the owner of a string of intown Atlanta restaurants: Rathbun’s, Krog Bar, Kevin Rathbun Steak and KR SteakBar. His business, a decade old this spring, garners nearly $10 million in annual sales, he says.
Rathbun’s advice on starting a restaurant:
- Customers come second. Employees come first. If they aren’t happy, the customer won’t be.
- Hire nice people. You can train up on other skills, but you can’t train nice.
- Keep combined rent, taxes and utility costs under 10 percent (preferably under 6 percent) of projected revenue.
- Negotiate lower escalators in your lease (the automatic percentage that the rent increases annually). Keep it to 3 percent or less. Understand the escalator’s impact or you’ll be out of business.