Launching a pop-up restaurant in 36 hours complete with concept, branding, and a business plan may seem overwhelming but the aim of Restaurant Startup, a reality show on CNBC, aims to surround potential restaurateurs with the hectic pace of a make-or-break operation.
Contestants are given $ 7,500 for expenses to compete for the attention of restaurateur and chef Joe Bastianich and restaurant operator Tim Love.
The inherent drama can make for good television but does it reflect reality in starting up a restaurant business?
Pastry chef and entrepreneur Waylynn Lucas is the show's consultant who says the pace of running a restaurant is indeed overwhelming. She would know, having launched a restaurant in Costa Rica before moving to Los Angeles where she worked at the Bazaar and Patina.
Her newest endeavor is Fonuts, where the doughnuts are baked, not fried, and are offered alongside a selection of gluten free and vegan products. Her advice is money is the lifeblood in all business endeavors and restaurants are no exception.
"First and foremost the budget, money, is everything. We give [the contestants] a minimal budget to bring a restaurant to life with all the factors like good food, interior design, and branding campaigns."
She said the amount of money provided is just enough to turn an idea into reality within the show's time frame. Giving $5,000 wouldn't be quite enough and $10,000 would allow for some reckless spending.
The producers and investors on the show, notes Waylynn, want to see more than just another great dining concept and great dish.
"There has to be growth potential for the restaurant. Each contestant has to be smart and cautious [with spending] and know their numbers.
"We throw them into this and make them wear all the hats. It's your business and you're responsible for designing restaurant space and how it's supposed to look. We provide experts like graphic designers and help but they're responsible and they have to be in charge."
The compact time frame is not artificial since the doors have to open as soon as possible to generate cash flow and begin paying back the investment capital.
Running a restaurant has a multitude of separate parts that have to mesh well for success. Waylynn says the food has to bring diners back for multiple visits, service must be flawless and cleanliness is key so the overall experience resonates with the customers.
Being on the show is her chance to give back to others based on what she has learned in her career working as a pastry chef.
A successful restaurant is where the chef has learned to be versatile and a good leader. Restaurat Startup shows that turning a profit is more than just the presentation of food on a plate. It is a swirling atmosphere that serves a strong dose of reality about the culinary industry.
Restaurant Startup airs Tuesday nights 10pm on CNBC.