Food Start-ups: How to Make (and Keep) Your Money in the Food Business (College)

by Nicholas Petti

This capstone course covers food service management for all categories of operations. Topics include: organizational structure, communication throughout the operation, event planning and management, on and off-site catering, dining room service and management, food and beverage marketing, legal considerations, job descriptions and hiring. Food Service math and computer applications are integrated throughout the course. Students are prepared for Restaurant Management, Institutional Food-service Management, and creation of their own Food-Based Business.

Program Information
Course Certification Elements
Course Competencies / Outcomes
  • Direct the operation and organization of kitchens and all food-related activities, including the presentation and serving of food.
  • Keep records pertaining to menus, finances, and other business-related issues.
  • Shop for or order food and kitchen supplies and equipment.
  • Analyze recipes to assign prices to menu items, based on food, labor, and overhead costs.
  • Arrange for equipment purchases or repairs.
  • Collaborate with other personnel to plan and develop recipes or menus, taking into account such factors as seasonal availability of ingredients or the likely number of customers.
  • Coordinate planning, budgeting, or purchasing for all the food operations within establishments such as clubs, hotels, or restaurant chains.
  • Determine production schedules and staff requirements necessary to ensure timely delivery of services.
  • Estimate amounts and costs of required supplies, such as food and ingredients.
  • Meet with customers to discuss menus for special occasions, such as weddings, parties, or banquets.
  • Meet with sales representatives to negotiate prices or order supplies.
  • Order or requisition food or other supplies needed to ensure efficient operation.
  • Plan, direct, or supervise the food preparation or cooking activities of multiple kitchens or restaurants in an establishment such as a restaurant chain, hospital, or hotel.
  • Record production or operational data on specified forms.
  • Recruit and hire staff, such as cooks and other kitchen workers.
  • Supervise or coordinate activities of cooks or workers engaged in food preparation.
  • Adapt the quantity of ingredients to match the amount of items to be baked.
  • Compile and maintain records of food use and expenditures.
  • Determine meal prices, based on calculations of ingredient prices.
  • Direct activities of one or more workers who assist in preparing and serving meals.
  • Monitor menus and spending to ensure that meals are prepared economically.
  • Monitor use of government food commodities to ensure that proper procedures are followed.
  • Requisition food supplies, kitchen equipment, and appliances based on estimates of future needs.
  • Take inventory of supplies and equipment.
  • Train new employees.
  • Arrange for equipment maintenance and repairs, and coordinate a variety of services, such as waste removal and pest control.
  • Assess staffing needs and recruit staff, using methods such as newspaper advertisements or attendance at job fairs.
  • Coordinate assignments of cooking personnel to ensure economical use of food and timely preparation.
  • Count money and make bank deposits.
  • Establish standards for personnel performance and customer service.
  • Estimate food, liquor, wine, and other beverage consumption to anticipate amounts to be purchased or requisitioned.
  • Investigate and resolve complaints regarding food quality, service, or accommodations.
  • Keep records required by government agencies regarding sanitation or food subsidies.
  • Maintain food and equipment inventories, and keep inventory records.
  • Monitor budgets and payroll records, and review financial transactions to ensure that expenditures are authorized and budgeted.
  • Monitor compliance with health and fire regulations regarding food
    preparation and serving, and building maintenance in lodging and dining facilities.
  • Monitor food preparation methods, portion sizes, and garnishing and presentation of food to ensure that food is prepared and presented in an acceptable manner.
  • Order and purchase equipment and supplies.
  • Organize and direct worker training programs, resolve personnel problems, hire new staff, and evaluate employee performance in dining and lodging facilities.
  • Plan menus and food utilization, based on anticipated number of guests, nutritional value, palatability, popularity, and costs.
  • Record the number, type, and cost of items sold to determine which items may be unpopular or less profitable.
  • Review menus and analyze recipes to determine labor and overhead costs, and assign prices to menu items.
  • Review work procedures and operational problems to determine ways to improve service, performance, or safety.
  • Schedule staff hours and assign duties.
  • Schedule use of facilities or catering services for events such as banquets or receptions, and negotiate details of arrangements with clients.
  • Consult with supervisory staff to plan menus, taking into consideration factors such as costs and special event needs.
  • Coordinate and supervise work of kitchen staff.
  • Keep records and accounts.
  • Plan and price menu items.
  • Schedule activities and equipment use with managers, using information about daily menus to help coordinate cooking times.
  • Analyze operational problems, such as theft and wastage, and establish procedures to alleviate these problems.
  • Assign duties, responsibilities, and work stations to employees in accordance with work requirements.
  • Compile and balance cash receipts at the end of the day or shift.
  • Conduct meetings and collaborate with other personnel for menu planning, serving arrangements, and related details.
  • Control inventories of food, equipment, smallware, and liquor, and report shortages to designated personnel.
  • Develop departmental objectives, budgets, policies, procedures, and strategies.
  • Develop equipment maintenance schedules and arrange for repairs.
  • Estimate ingredients and supplies required to prepare a recipe.
  • Evaluate new products for usefulness and suitability.
  • Forecast staff, equipment, and supply requirements, based on a master menu.
  • Observe and evaluate workers and work procedures to ensure quality standards and service, and complete disciplinary write-ups.
  • Perform personnel actions, such as hiring and firing staff, providing employee orientation and training, and conducting supervisory activities, such as creating work schedules or organizing employee time sheets.
  • Perform various financial activities, such as cash handling, deposit preparation, and payroll.
  • Recommend measures for improving work procedures and worker performance to increase service quality and enhance job safety.
  • Record production, operational, and personnel data on specified forms.
  • Resolve customer complaints regarding food service.
  • Schedule parties and take reservations.
  • Specify food portions and courses, production and time sequences, and workstation and equipment arrangements.
  • Train workers in food preparation,service, sanitation, and safety procedures.
Course Work Based Learning Activities

Students develop a comprehensive business plan for a food-based business; the plan is evaluated by advisory committee members.

Industry representative guest speakers.

Perform analysis on existing menus and operations from local restaurants.

Course Materials

Computer is recommended

Text: The Restaurant: From Concept to Operation. Walker, John R.  Wiley


Course Units (1 semester course)

Unit 1 Why Create a Food-Based Business?

Unit Length (Hours): 6 (1st 2 weeks of classes)

Unit Description:

Students will: examine types of food based businesses (FBB) and their histories,discuss the personal attributes needed for successful creation and operation of a FBB, and examine the role of gender and ethnicity in the creation of a FBB.

Group discussion follows reading of the text and an excerpt from Kitchen Confidential.


Unit Competencies/ Outcomes

Students will describe the kinds and characteristics of restaurants.

Students will identify what kind of restaurant they would be most interested working in and will be able to explain why.

Students will determine the kind of restaurant they would most like to own, and be able to explain why.

Students will be able to determine if they have the necessary personal characteristics for success in a FBB.


Unit Assessment

Students perform a self assessment and, if appropriate, a peer evaluation.

Unit 2 The Concept

Unit Length (Hours): 3

Unit Description: 

Students will learn how the overall concept of the FBB drives all the other factors: location, menu, pricing, design, and decor.

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes

Students will be able to identify types of concepts

Students will analyze how local demographics and market information align with types of concepts

Students will know where to find demographic information

Students will identify and analyze successful concepts and discuss reasons for success

Unit Assessment

Quiz based on readings from Chapters 2 and 3

Students identify potential concept for their business plan

Unit 3 The 4 P's

Unit Length (Hours): 3

Unit Description:

This unit covers types of business entities (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, S Corp), the difference between marketing and sales, the components of a marketing plan, promotions, and the importance of the 4 P's (Product, Price, Promotion, and Place).

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes

Students will be able to:

Describe FBB marketing 

Explain the difference between marketing and sales

Discuss marketing philosophy in the FBB's 

Give examples of how marketing solves customer problems.

Explain the principal target market of their FBB

Explain market positioning

Discuss ways in which market assessment aids the marketing process

Describe the 4 P's

Unit Assessment

1st step of FBB plan due

Unit 4 Financing

Unit Length (Hours):  3

Unit Description:

This unit covers financing and leasing, the need for sufficient capital, sources of capital, Uniform System of Accounts, preparing the loan application, securing the loan, and valuation of the FBB

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes

Students will be able to:

List, in order of priority, four sources of financing they would approach in seeking funds for their FBB

Describe the procedure for securing an SBA loan

Explain the procedure for securing crowd-based funding (Kickstarter, etc.) and compare that to traditional sources of capital

Explain the importance of accumulating good credit

Unit Assessment

Financing component of business plan due. Quiz on Chapter 16.

Unit 5 Menu

Unit Length (Hours): 6 (2 class sessions)

Unit Description:

This unit covers types of menus and how each relates to a particular concept: pricing and costing strategies, how menu affects equipment choice, relationship between food  cost and menu, how menu affects personnel and staffing, the role of nutrition in menu planning, and an introduction to menu engineering.

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes

Students will be able to:

Prioritize considerations in menu planning for their FBB

Explain how menu and equipment selection are inter-related

Explain food cost-based and contribution margin-based pricing strategies

Demonstrate understanding of the basics of menu planning for efficiency of equipment and space use

Create menus that meet guest-specific needs

Unit Assessment

Menu portion of FBB is due. Quiz on Chapter 4.

Unit 6 Planning and Equipment

Unit Length (Hours):  3

Unit Description:

This covers working with a kitchen designer, types of equipment and their functions, electric vs. gas, cuisine-specific equipment, further examination of relationship between menu and equipment selection, equipment manufacturers and sources, repair and servicing of equipment.

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes

Students will be able to identify equipment, explain their functions and what types of dishes can be produced with that equipment.

Students will be able to identify equipment and space requirements for a variety of particular concepts.

Unit Assessment

Equipment schedule for FBB due. Quiz on Chapter 5.

Unit 7 Bar and Beverage Service

Unit Length (Hours):  3

Unit Description:

This unit covers alcoholic beverage licensing, responsible beverage service, introduction to food and beverage pairing, introduction to wine varietals and appellations, bar and beverage equipment and layout, and inventory and safeguards for alcoholic beverage service.

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes

Students will be able to:

Describe the process of obtaining liquor licenses and the difference between a beer and wine license, a full liquor license, and on and off-sale licenses

Identify four, major wine varietals and describe food which pair well with each

Describe the flow of beverage service from purchasing to service

Explain the components of responsible beverage service

Unit Assessment

Quiz on material from Chapter 7 and lecture

Unit 8 Budget and Control

Unit Length (Hours):  3

Unit Description:

This unit covers the relationship between front and back of the house, inventory, cost control measures, analysis of the profit and loss statement, the importance of ratios and prime costs.

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes

Students will be able to: 

Describe the role of specific front and back of house functions, 

Calculate costs based on inventory, 

Analyze a profit and loss statement and discuss strategies for improving efficiencies,controlling costs, and maximizing profit in a particular FBB 

Unit Assessment

Analysis of a case study presented by instructor. Quiz on Chapter 8.

Unit 9 Human Resources

Unit Length (Hours):  6 (2 class sessions)

Unit Description:

This unit covers organization, recruiting, and staffing, permissible interview questions, tipped employees, reference checks, and drug testing.

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes

Students will:

Demonstrate understanding of understand federal, state, and local requirements and guidelines for hiring (EEO, ADA, local regulations) 

Understand what an undocumented worker is 

Identify sources of potential employees 

List questions that are not permissible in interviews 

Understand the importance of reference checking and drug screening

Illustrate the difference between a task and a job 

Perform a job analysis and develop job descriptions

Unit Assessment

Job descriptions for FBB due. Quiz on Chapter 11.


Unit 10 Leadership and Managment

Unit Length (Hours):  3

Unit Description:

This unit covers Mission, Vision, and Goals and their relationship to each other, the difference between (and effective traits of) leaders and managers, strategic plans and decision making, conflict management, and the importance of communication and motivation.

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes

Students will be able to: 

Define mission, vision, and goals for FBBs 

Outline the purpose of a mission statement 

Define the 3 parts of a mission statement 

Model successful conflict resolution

Unit Assessment

Quiz on definitions, key terms, strategies of conflict resolution, purpose of mission, vision, and goals based on Chapter 10.

Mission statement of FBB due.

Unit 11 Training and Service

Unit Length (Hours):  3

Unit Description:

This unit covers employee orientation, training and development, service standards appropriate for various FBBs, employee manuals, training resources, behavior modeling, and coaching.

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes

Students will be able to:

Explain the difference between training and development 

Discuss the plus-minus-plus model of critique 

List the components of a training manual 

Describe the flow of service at a variety of FBBs 

Explain the concept of training the trainer 

Analyze the effectiveness of training programs

Unit Assessment

Service standards and training manual component of FBB plan due. Quiz on Chapter 12.


Unit 12 Legal and Taxes

Unit Length (Hours):  3

Unit Description:

This unit covers an introduction to federal, state, and local taxes, working with accounting professionals, insurance, liability limitations, and lawsuits.

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes

Students will: 

Understand the legal and tax benefits of various structures 

Explain how to choose an accounting professional 

Discuss the ramifications of taxes and liability 

Illustrate how to respond to a lawsuit or potential assignment of liability

Unit Assessment

Quiz on Chapter 17 and lecture


Unit 13 Technology

Unit Length (Hours):  3

Unit Description:

This unit covers dedicated and cloud-based POS and their usefulness in decision making, reservation systems, customer database management, high tech vs. high touch, modern cooking equipment,and the future of FBB technology.

Unit Competencies/ Outcomes

Students will be able to:

List a variety of POS systems and describe the advantages of each

Analyze how to use information collected by POS and reservation management systems 

Describe the function of immersion circulators, and sous vide technology

Unit Assessment

Quiz on Chapter 14 and lecture

Course Summative Assessment

The capstone project of the course, which has due dates throughout the course, is the completion of an entire FBB plan that the student can use to actually put their vision into practice.