Growing up in Barcelona, Spain, Jorge Bordas ’11 had friends who
dreamed of careers as soccer players for their beloved FC Barcelona. Although Jorge loves soccer, especially
his hometown team he calls Barça,
he has always wanted to be a businessman.
His Independent Study in Business and the Stock Market is a step in that
An interest in business runs in
Jorge’s family. His parents own
several restaurants and clubs in Barcelona, and his brother Ramon ’10 is in his first year at ESADE,
a top European business school located in Barcelona. Jorge has been admitted to ESADE for next year.
In the meantime, he has been
learning as much about business as he can. In his Adv. Economics course, he studies concepts and
theories, and in his Independent Study, he narrows his focus to the practical
problems of formulating a business plan for a Spanish restaurant in New York
Beginning last summer, Jorge
tracked international restaurant chains on the New York Stock Exchange (through
Yahoo Finance) to see if there was a pattern to the rise and fall of restaurant
stocks. He then did some research in
the first months of school to determine why stocks went up and down. He began working towards the business
plan in first semester.
Jorge meets weekly with his project
advisor, John Alden, Berkshire’s Chief Financial Officer, whose background
includes a BS from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration and an MBA from
Harvard Business School. Before
coming to Berkshire, Mr. Alden worked twenty years with Sheraton Hotels,
including being Director of Food and Beverage for The St. Regis Hotel in NYC
and Vice President, Food and Beverage, for Sheraton Inns worldwide.
Jorge did some field work on his
project during fall Parents’ Weekend, when he and his parents visited New
York. With his father, Jorge had a
“quick dinner” in what Jorge had earlier determined to be the four best Spanish
restaurants in the city. Jorge was
surprised: while the food was somewhat
familiar, including tapas (a Spanish appetizer of small pieces of bread with
various toppings), he noted that “the typical tapas plates from Spain weren’t
available at these American restaurants.
Worse was that the ambience wasn’t warm: we didn’t feel at home in the Spanish restaurants in New
York. All of those restaurants
could be improved.” That trip
helped Jorge determine the kinds of food, restaurant size, and décor he would
incorporate into his business plan.
Much of Jorge’s research has been
online. He was surprised to learn
that one out of ten people in the city work in the restaurant industry. He also uses a Zagat guide to New York
restaurants, which he says offers good information. Second semester has been focused on gathering specific data about
such things as rent, labor, furniture, licenses, equipment, china, and flatware
that will all figure in the plan he will write. Jorge did a drawing of a restaurant “to see how many people
I could fit into a small restaurant” and determined that a space of 2000 square
feet could accommodate 64 diners.
To estimate costs, Jorge has relied on his father “who tells me what something
costs in Spain,” and on Mr. Alden, “who uses his experience as a hotel manager
to discuss if that cost would be the same in the U.S. If the figures don’t match up, we explore more.” For instance, his father had no idea
what restaurant rental costs would be in Manhattan, so Jorge went back online
and determined a figure of $23 per square foot per month.
Recently, Jorge and Mr. Alden have
been working on a formula to assess how many meals his restaurant would need to
serve to offset all other expenses.
“With my initial prices for costs, assuming that people would spend about
$45 per meal, the number of covers [meals served] would have to be 161 a
day. That was a lot, so we went
back to the original costs and tried to figure out what we could take
out.” Jorge mentions a number of
subsequent ideas: making the
restaurant larger so more people could fit in, putting in more bar space
because profit for bar sales is high.
He also considered cutting labor costs during slow weekdays and
concentrating labor money into the weekends.
While Jorge has documented his
research with summaries and ideas about each point he’s explored, he will start
writing his actual business plan after March break. He has a business plan from the internet that will be his
model. Through Mr. Alden, he will
also have contact with a restaurant owner in Connecticut who wrote a business
plan prior to opening his restaurant.
Jorge’s final plan
will include his original ideas for a restaurant as well as a process to expand
the New York restaurant into a chain.
Mr. Alden and Jorge have discussed Venture Capital financing, which would
lead to eventually issuing stock as a way to finance the growth of the chain,
and also have explored the procedures for seeking loans for start-ups from the U. S.
Small Business Administration.
To learn more about Independent Study at Berkshire, click here.
-- Linda Bellizzi, Director of the Independent Study Program