From Food Trucks to Cafes and Restaurants: How to Launch A Successful Food Business

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By Liza Burke, Marketing Manager

New food businesses pop up all the time with interesting niches that delight their customers. Local Seattle inspirations include: a vegan ice cream parlor, cat cafe, Thali Indian plates, rooftop Mezcaleria, locally sourced oyster bar, gluten-free bakery, sustainable sandwich shop, Mexican cafe with kayaks, Hawaiian Korean fusion food truck, a gourmet restaurant homeless employment program, and an organic donut shop.

What does it take for a food business to be successful, especially in such a dynamic and competitive market like Seattle? Sounds like there's a whole host of skills, steps and strategies involved, plus a good dose of creativity and resources.

If you've been scheming about a food business idea, but have not been able to get it off the ground yet, take note.

Seattle Central College's Continuing Education department is launching a Food Business Incubator course to help you move your idea from talk to table.

The program is a non-credit course designed to quickly get people with a food business idea on their feet. Continuing Education classes are designed for community members to have easy access to the resources at Seattle Central College without being enrolled in a degree program.

Whether your dream is to open your own restaurant, bakery, food truck, catering company, delivery service or other unique food business, this course will support you with resources, practical knowledge, and tools.

Gain a mentor in instructor Peter Lewis, the founder of the acclaimed French restaurant, Campagne, and its casual bistro sibling, Café Campagne – someone who knows a thing or two about creating successful food businesses.

Peter shares a little insight into his motivation for teaching this course. “I wish I'd had someone to mentor me at the very outset of my career. It’s my aspiration to save you from all the mistakes I made and to give you the benefit of everything I’ve learned as an owner and restaurant industry consultant.”

Peter Lewis Headshot - Continuing Education at Seattle Central College
Peter Lewis, the founder of the acclaimed French restaurant, Campagne, and its casual bistro sibling, Café Campagne

Learn the Nuts and Bolts from the Pros

Core curriculum in this course includes:

  • concept development
  • financial tools
  • forms of business/corporate organization
  • essential licensing and permitting processes
  • branding and marketing strategies
  • capitalization options
  • development of an Investor Pitch Deck

Students will build a presentation about their business concepts based on their work throughout the program and be able to answer all of the questions potential investors might have. In the final week, students will have the opportunity to practice pitching their ideas to finance professionals and benefit from authentic feedback and advice -- immeasurable experience to help guide students to achieve their business dreams.

“There’s nothing quite like pitching your business concept to finance professionals." Peter explains. "The performance is an exercise that will help you focus and refine your business plan. The pressure is on, but you’re engaging your audience in a safe environment—a 'Fish Bowl' rather than a 'Shark Tank.' Consider this a dress rehearsal for the real world.”

In addition to Peter Lewis, a few other local luminaries will participate in guiding students, as well. “Guest speakers were a highlight of the class when it was offered a few years ago. Experts in financial systems, licensing and permitting, design and construction, commercial real estate and marketing will address the class and answer your questions.”

Laura Miller, Seattle’s foremost commercial real estate broker serving the food and restaurant industry, will will address the importance of identifying the right location for your business and how to negotiate Letters of Interest and Leases.

Another guest speaker will be Pascha Scott, who has over 25 years of experience on building brands with particularly deep history in food. She will be available to answer questions about preparing your brand from launch onward to help you achieve your business goals, including a mix of communication vehicles that may include advertising, public relations, graphic design, websites, social media, tradeshows, retail design or packaging.

Located on Capitol Hill, the course consists of 33 hours of classroom time, Tuesdays, 6-9 p.m., October 2 through December 11.

“I wish I'd had someone to mentor me at the very outset of my career. It’s my aspiration to save you from all the mistakes I made and to give you the benefit of everything I’ve learned as an owner and restaurant industry consultant.” -Peter Lewis, Instructor

Food Business Incubator Course

  • Instructor: Peter Lewis
  • 11 Tuesdays, 6-9 p.m., October 2-December 11
  • At Broadway Edison Building, Seattle Central College 1701 Broadway, Seattle WA 98122 - Room 1139D | 1701 Broadway, Seattle WA 98122
  • 33  hours (non-credit through Continuing Education)
  • $1,285.00

Learn More & Register

If you've got a concept brewing for a food business, you will be among allies in this course! By participating, you will be making a commitment to your vision with guidance and support from a master. This course is a unique opportunity to take the next steps in creating your winning food business.

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