How to Start a Restaurant: The Process Explained

Do you love to cook, perfecting recipes that have been in your family for generations? Do you see a great business opportunity for a specialty restaurant that doesn’t exist, (yet?)

In either case, opening a restaurant may be a long-time dream. Even if you’re not a chef yourself, starting an eating establishment might be the ideal business for you.

But, do you know how to start a restaurant? What things must you consider before the grand opening, and what pitfalls should you avoid?

Read on for our definitive guide to creating your dream restaurant.

  1. Discover a Niche and Concept

Do a little research to find restaurant ideas that are already working well in your area. What is it about these places that attract crowds? What do they consistently do well?

After that, you have two choices: either use their concept and find ways to improve upon it, or find a target customer whose needs are not being met, and fill that void with your restaurant.

It’s not too early to create a “brand” for your business that a logo, slogan, and color scheme that communicates to the public what your restaurant is all about. A graphic designer can help you match your message with ideas that will sell.

  1. Build a Business Plan

To secure funding, you must now create a business plan.

A business plan should include items such as:

  • Definition of your concept
  • Description of your target customer
  • Your proposed menu and pricing
  • All financial information
  • A marketing plan
  • Employee hiring, and training plan
  • An exit plan

You will take your business plan to potential investors so that you can start buying the restaurant equipment you need to get things started.

  1. Complete Legal Paperwork

Once you have a name for your restaurant, you will need to define it for tax purposes. Are you a sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation?

You will need permits such as a food service license, health department license, and restaurant insurance that most likely includes a liquor license. A business attorney can tell you what is required in your state.

  1. Get Your Equipment and Hire Your Staff

Make a list of all equipment needed, from oven to freezer, including your accounting technology, and buy only what you need to start.

If your menu includes food products obtained from other sources, take time to investigate how it is shipped, such as in a cool container or another sealed packaging.

Make a list of how many people you need to run your front and back of house efficiently. Have a training system ready to go when you hire and give your new workers plenty of support.

  1. Work Your Marketing Plan

You MUST have a marketing plan that includes advertising on social and other media, a soft opening, which is usually by invitation, and the most important tactic, word-of-mouth.

Be present to your new customers, and build relationships with them as well as your vendors. Become “known” as a restaurateur that folks want to be associated with for best success!

How to Start a Restaurant: Learn as Much as You Can

The most important thing to do before your grand opening is to learn as much as you can about how to start a restaurant. Ask questions, read up on the restaurant business, and take as much time as you need time to realize your dream!

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