DEAR HARRIETTE: I've always harbored a secret dream of opening a restaurant. I always told myself that it is improbable, and there's no money in the business unless you make it big. I know it's a cutthroat industry, but I think I could make it work with the right guidance. Would restaurateurs even be willing to spill some of their secrets to me? I don't have any mentors, and I want to do this the smart way. -- Restaurant Dreamin’, Milwaukee
DEAR RESTAURANT DREAMIN’: Congratulations on preparing to make your dream come true. This is fantastic. You should know that it is rare for people to take action to make their dreams come true. Good for you.
Now, how to do it? Yes, you should reach out to restaurateurs in your neighborhood to ask for an information interview. Some owners will be open to your questions. But don’t stop there. Look for a class in restaurant management so that you can learn the nuts and bolts of starting and growing a restaurant. There are so many details that need to be in place -- from location to cuisine to chef to wait staff to decor to insurance, you name it. Do the research on the front end so that you are as prepared as possible.