Are you looking for a complete guide on opening a restaurant? Smart planning, expert execution, and this informative article can help you open the restaurant of your dreams.
Smart planning is one of the most important things before beginning any new business venture. Proper research and planning help you enter the market with complete confidence as you know the rules of the game you are about to play. And if the game is to tantalize the taste buds of people through your new restaurant venture, then you are in the right place.
If you hold on to your dream to own and operate your own food business and wish to unleash your creativity by opening a restaurant, then getting to know the business and planning accordingly is the safest way to move forward. Countless new restaurants are opening each day despite it not being easy. Equipment, rent, labor, taxation, and rules or regulations are costly, so starting with a considerable investment is best. It is a fact that most successful restaurant owners are usually those who have well-thought-out planning and a good amount of initial capitalization. This makes entering the business easier and also creating a one of a kind food experience for customers. So, if you have the capital and the will to open your restaurant, here is a complete guide on opening a restaurant and ensuring it is successful.
Things to consider when opening a restaurant
No matter how passionate you are about your dream, how big of a foodie you are, or what exceptional culinary skills you possess, the fact is that there before you begin, there are things to consider when opening a restaurant. It is good to be aware of the reality of this business because, as it may look, it is not all rainbows and butterflies. It is one heck of a task that requires your complete attention, dedication, and time. There is simply no day off. So before you start opening a restaurant, think long and hard about whether this kind of life will suit you or not.
Once you have decided to go forward with it, the next thing to consider is the location. The location of the restaurant can make or break it. It can turn into a mind-blowing success or an absolute failure. So consider the site for your restaurant very carefully and make sure that it is easily accessible and people will find no trouble in reaching it. Yes, people love good food, but if it costs them to drive longer or to a hard-to-find area, they will find something closer and easily accessible.
Before opening a restaurant, it’s essential to think long and hard about whether this lifestyle will work for you or not. Are you ready to invest all your time, heart, and soul into opening a restaurant? If yes, then read on.
The next thing to consider when opening a restaurant is the up-front investment. Restaurants require a substantial initial investment, and it is certainly not cheap. If you wish to begin without spending a fortune, you can always consider catering, food trucks, or even a pop-up restaurant. These are significantly cheaper than establishing your place.
Another important thing to consider when opening a restaurant is making sure that you are providing more than just good food. That is a given; food is the topmost priority because that’s what brings people. However, aside from that, your restaurant must also be able to provide a good experience, aesthetics, and overall a feeling that people cannot find elsewhere. Play up with the human mind and develop a restaurant concept that is authentic and charming.
You must take it as a business and create a business plan on paper when opening a restaurant. Jot down your potentials, write your risks and find the potential red flags. You must also consider investing in the right kind of technology that suits your business plan. The fact is that the restaurant business is not just time-consuming but also very competitive. It requires a substantial initial investment, a substantial personal commitment, sacrifices on your part, and a lot of passion. The good thing is that it can also be one of the most rewarding businesses. Food brings people together, and it is a business that will always get you customers.
Important steps to opening a restaurant
Opening a new restaurant requires careful planning and, as mentioned before, a well-curated business plan. There are so many little details and information of enormous importance that it is best to craft a business plan in writing and break it down into steps. A well-planned out, stepwise restaurant business plan can make it a manageable feat because otherwise, it is a daunting task for any person. Here is the list of important steps to opening a restaurant.
- Choose a restaurant concept.
- Create the menu
- Craft the business plan
- Find funding/investment
- Choose a location
- Obtain restaurant license or permit
- Design the space
- Find the equipment
- Hire the best staff
- Host a soft opening
What are the steps to opening a restaurant?
The steps mentioned above may appear simple, short, and sweet, but each requires a lot of effort, time, and energy to achieve. This part of the article offers a detailed answer to the commonly asked question: what are the steps to opening a restaurant and guides you on how to maneuver your way through it.
1. Choose a restaurant concept.
This is the step where you can unleash your creativity and stir up your imagination. This is also the step where dreams are given shape. If you have been dreaming about opening your restaurant, then chances are you have already chosen the restaurant concept. It includes the type of restaurant you wish to open, the style of cuisine you want to offer, and the style of service you will use. The interior of the restaurant goes with the concept theme.
Branding also falls under this as you decide the name, logo, and menu design to fit into the restaurant concept. Creating a brand identity has become extremely important as it is vital for advertising and marketing.
2. Create the menu
This is the next creative step of opening a restaurant and can easily make or break your clientele. As a new restaurant, the menu should be promising, appealing, innovative, and well-curated. Choose a menu that you feel resonates with your concept and culinary knowledge. The menu will also decide the type of equipment and ingredients you will be needing and the skills to look out for when hiring new staff. For example, if you are opening a pizza place, you will need dough mixers, large ovens, and lots of cheese. Also, you will require the skills of experienced chefs, particularly in handling the dough.
Your menu should also consider the demographics around your location. Suppose there are more college-age students; your menu should be tailored accordingly. If you wish to set up something fancy, invest in a place that surrounds high-income individuals who are willing to pay for whatever niche items you are cooking.
3. Craft the business plan
A solid business plan is essential for all new businesses. The purpose of a well-crafted business plan is to jot down fine details and ideas to summarize to potential investors. Some of the principal components of a business plan are :
- Executive summary
- Company overview
- Concept and menu
- Staffing requirements
- Marketing and advertising
4. Find funding/investment.
Most people do not have enough capital to open a restaurant, requiring financial assistance. If you can secure funding and investment for your dream restaurant, that could become a reality. Create a budget plan for forecasting the total costs for running the restaurant. Also include the costs of obtaining licenses, equipment, staff payments, and building maintenance. If that is more than the capital you have, then you can receive funding by taking a commercial loan, small business loans, or using crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe or Indiegogo to raise money for your dream. You can also reach out to potential investors for your restaurant and create irresistible business plans for them.
5. Choose a location
When opening a restaurant, remember location plays a crucial role in its success. Keep in mind that a location with good visibility will receive more customers than one hidden away in inaccessible places. Consider parking availability also for the ease of customers. When selecting the location, also evaluate the area’s demographics and ensure that they match the market you are targeting. Also, keep in mind labor costs as it varies according to living costs in an area. Local competition should also be evaluated and avoid areas that are already saturated with restaurants of similar concepts. The real estate mantra goes well with restaurant business also: location, location, location.
6. Obtain restaurant license or permit
In order to start a new restaurant, you will need to obtain licenses or local permits. It is best to get legal counsel when filing for permits and licenses as they are pretty tedious and require a lot of steps. Usually, business licenses, food service licenses, and liquor licenses are requirements for new restaurant owners to operate in the US. Find out the permits required in your state or country before opening your own restaurant and secure yourself from all the hassle with the authorities.
7. Design the space
While many think of designing the front layout of the restaurant where customers are hosted, it is also essential to develop the kitchens properly, even if customers do not visit them. Designing both the front and the backspaces is necessary, and while different industry experts offer their services to assist you in the process, you can also do it yourself while keeping these factors in mind.
Seating capacity should be determined and follow the local regulations, which define the area per customer based on the restaurant’s size and the number of exits required. You should also choose dining furniture that goes along with your overall concept and theme. When choosing the style and shape of your furniture, keep in mind the customers’ comfort and consider the seating capacity.
Use innovative ways to enhance the ambiance and decor of your restaurants like lightning, plantations, or any other types of interesting decorations. Lastly, keep in mind that your restaurant will be a public place that requires it to be cleaned regularly. So make smart choices for flooring and walls that are easy to clean and disinfect. Carpeting and fabric walls or drapes might sound cozy, but they absorb smells and are very costly to be cleaned regularly.
While designing the kitchen layout, keep in mind the flow of service and allocate spaces for different tasks in the kitchen like ware washing, dry and cold storage, food preparation, meal cooking, and service areas.
8. Find the equipment and food vendors.
Equipping it with the right appliances and cooking essentials is very important when opening a restaurant. Depending on the menu, purchase the right commercial used appliances. Some great options available online make this task a lot simpler. You can find wholesale suppliers online who can provide great prices and fast shipping without you having to search the market and research competitors on the ground.
You will also need a food vendor who will supply your regular day-to-day items. Find a supplier that offers membership discounts and free shipping, which would save you money when you are ordering in bulk. Research the food suppliers market and find the reliable, punctual, and suitable for long-term alliance.
9. Hire the best staff
Your staff is the family at your workplace so investing in a great team is vital for a well-functioning restaurant. As a new place, you can build a great work culture from the beginning. Put significant thought into employee benefits, training, and incentives. Hire a competent management team. Make a list of all the restaurant positions you will require to be filled for the operations on a daily basis. Depending on your unique needs, you will decide the number of staff members needed. Still, some of the common positions include general manager, kitchen manager, head chef, prep cooks, line cooks, dishwashers, servers, food runners, bartenders, cocktail servers, and others.
You will also be required to hire employees for the marketing and managerial services. Marketers, PR specialists, and accountants are some of the non-food-related positions needed to be filled.
Advertising plays a crucial role in getting the word out and attracting customers to new start-ups. When opening a restaurant, advertising is the key to spreading the correct information around potential customers. Depending on your budget, you can choose various advertising ways.
A few digital marketing techniques are social media adverts, email marketing, and improving a restaurant’s search visibility through SEO. Word of mouth and discount offers are also great ways to advertise and generate excitement for the openinEnticeize your customers through exciting information about the cuisine and all that sets your restaurant apart from others.
Make sure that you have a functional restaurant website designed according to the theme you are following. It should have all the necessary information like address, contact number, service hours, and menu. There is no denying the mighty power of social media in modern times and many businesses flourish solely through the successful use of social media platforms. Strengthen your marketing game by sharing regular tidbits and BTS to excite the audience and run localized ads to target customers around your location. And if your budget allows, a nice initial discount on the first bill is a fantastic way to attract customers to your restaurant.
11. Host a soft opening
Hosting a soft opening is a great way to prepare you for the final show. Invite friends and family to try out the new place, and allow them to highlight the flaws and suggest improvements. Honest feedback is essential to identify where you stand so you can make the necessary tweaks before opening the restaurant. The newly hired staff also practice and take part in customer service. As cliche as it sounds, practice makes a man perfect. And that is why a soft opening is essential before opening a restaurant.
What is a soft opening of a restaurant?
A soft opening is also known as a soft launch which opens the doors of the restaurant to a limited audience. It is used to gather customer feedback and highlight flaws in service and management before the grand opening. It allows you to test the operations and showcase your best, allowing you to absorb and analyze customer response to your services. Aside from inviting friends and family, you can also invite the local community or media and influencers. And to benefit the most from the concept of soft opening, hosting multiple soft openings for different audiences allows you not just to improve but also provides you the opportunity to market the restaurant and get word of mouth out in town.
Why open a restaurant?
There are various risks associated with initiating a restaurant business, especially in the current times of the pandemic. Multiple reasons lead people towards this tricky business. Getting into it is not hard considering it requires no degree but maintaining it and keeping it running with success requires a lot of hard work. When you open a restaurant, you are paving your path to entrepreneurship. You become your own boss and have certain control over your growth. You have the option to unleash your creativity through food, ambiance, and marketing tactics while having complete autonomy over the type of people you wish to work with.
Restaurants play a huge role in community building. It gives people a platform to socialize, build connections, and share ideas. For creative souls, it is a great opportunity to enhance customer experience through new and innovative menu ideas. The fact is that if you achieve client loyalty, restaurants can be an extremely rewarding business.
Opening a restaurant checklist
If you have been dreaming of opening your own restaurant for years, it is time to step up and make it a reality. Draw up a plan to open your dream restaurant. It is an exciting journey and can be very time-consuming to launch successfully. Stats claim that more than 50 percent of restaurants fail in the first years. Now that doesn’t mean that you quit your passion. Absorbing these facts and figures will help you build the mindset that requires serious time and money to launch a successful restaurant.
Most of the restaurants fail because of a lack of proper planning. The restaurant business involves a lot more than making dinner for a customer. It requires a whole concept and ambiance with specifically curated menus, and attention to detail is very important. From deciding the kitchen appliances and menus to the mood of the place, the planning stage makes or breaks your effort to open a restaurant. Here is a recipe for the successful launch of a business that provides the ultimate opening of a restaurant checklist for your ease.
- Create the business plan of the restaurant to ensure smooth and efficient operations.
- Come up with a striking marketing strategy that sets your restaurant apart from others.
- Choose the location and the community you plan to cater
- Get hold of funding to source cooking equipment, food inventory, paper products, and restaurant interior.
- Choose the restaurant concept
- Get hold of all the required licenses and permits
- Secure the essential inventory which must include everything that you could possibly think of.
- Hire the best staff in town
- Host one of multiple soft opening
- Host a grand opening of your restaurant
Restaurants provide customers with especially curated, creative meal options and valuable service to engage and form a loyal clientele. Customers and their loyalty are what make the restaurants soar high. There were many restaurants that even survived the pandemic and strict lockdowns, and the reason was the loyalty of customers who did not stop ordering food during the critical times also. Unfortunately, opening a restaurant is a herculean task and requires you to put your heart and soul into the project.
Doing the proper research and learning from experts is the right way to enter the restaurant business and succeed. Following the steps of planning and execution can help you in opening the restaurant of your dreams. The food industry is a dynamic industry as food is one commodity that people cannot function without, and restaurants offer a whole experience. And this is why it is essential to know all the steps mentioned earlier before starting your business to enhance your chance of success.