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The Ingredients of Restaurant Success You love food, but it takes more than that to start a restaurant. Here's what you need to write your own recipe for success.

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From poultry to pirogi, steak to grits, Americans are hungry for good food and unique dining experiences. The National Restaurant Association says that in 2005 (the latest year for which statistics are available), the average household expenditure for restaurant food was $1,054 per person, or $2,634 per household. And considering the 300 millionth American was born in late 2006, it's clear there will be plenty of customers both today and in the future. That makes owning a restaurant a good business opportunity for aspiring food-service entrepreneurs, even during economic slowdowns and when consumer prices are rising.

"Food dollars spent outside the grocery store are higher now than ever," says former restaurant consultant Kenny Lao, 30, co-owner of Rickshaw Dumpling Bar in New York City, an eatery with 2006 sales of $1.3 million. "So if you have a strong concept and have your execution and operation strategies down pat, any time is a good time to open a restaurant--even now."

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