There are roughly 15,000,000 restaurants in the world, and you're about to open a restaurant as well! It's an exciting time to start a business, but do you have what you need to open a restaurant? You'll need to make your own "open a restaurant checklist" if you want to successfully start a company.
If you've been looking into opening your own restaurant, we're here to help. Here's a quick guide on everything you need to keep track of to start your restaurant.
What's Your Concept?
The first thing you'll need to know is what the concept of your restaurant is. Knowing this is crucial to planning the rest.
Some restaurant concepts will require a smaller amount of staff, for example. Others may require you to base your restaurant's floor plan around the concept.
If your idea for a restaurant is a buffet, you'll need to know that ahead of time so you can find properties for sale that can accommodate the necessary space. A hibachi restaurant will require a special floor plan to fit the tables properly and safely.
Make sure you know what you want to make before you set out on anything else. Doing so will help make the rest of your journey easier.
Who's Your Staff?
The next thing you'll need to decide is who will be working in the restaurant. Such a decision is more than servers and chefs - who will be in charge of your restaurant?
You'll need to decide on or recruit managerial staff well before the restaurant launches. It's vital to train your leadership on what you expect from an average day of the restaurant. You'll also want to ensure you have full leadership for the restaurant's non-managerial staff, such as head chefs and lead servers.
From there, you'll want to do your best to hire enough people to keep the restaurant running. You may want to overhire at first just in case some decide they'd like to be somewhere else. The average restaurant has a high turnover rate of employees, so you shouldn't expect everyone you hire to stay long-term — prepare accordingly!
Where's Your Restaurant?
Of course, one of the most crucial things is where your restaurant will be. Look into the local areas and see where a restaurant of your concept will thrive. If you're opening a sushi restaurant, you may not want to open it sandwiched between two other popular sushi restaurants.
Location is among the most important factors to your restaurant's success. Look for properties in an area where customers can easily see it without having it too close to much competition.
Past this, your concept will help you decide on what sort of restaurant you're opening. A smaller diner-style restaurant will require less room and will likely cost less to purchase. Larger styles of restaurants may make you spend more on a larger property to accommodate your new business.
Compliance, Codes, and Licenses
Compliance codes and laws aren't quite what the average entrepreneur dreams of, but staying compliant is crucial to your business. Restaurants need to abide by a swathe of different compliance codes to remain operational.
Compliance codes also depend on your location. When you start a company of any sort, you should immediately look into what sorts of laws and regulations you'll need to abide by.
The most common are fire safety codes and other such safety measures. Restaurants also have a great deal of food safety laws that you'll need to ensure. It's a good idea to dedicate someone's responsibilities during the formation of your business to focus on compliance laws and codes.
You'll also need to decide if you'll be selling liquor or not. Restaurants require a specific liquor license to be able to sell liquor, and doing so without such a license carries severe penalties. Research your area to learn the codes and licenses you'll need to run your business to ensure you don't miss anything.
With any entrepreneurship, the most important question is how you're going to afford everything. Saying the average cost of opening a restaurant is difficult due to how many factors can change the price. However, you can expect to easily spend in the hundreds of thousands, with stretching into the millions being common.
The price of your endeavor increases based on size, staff, cuisine, location, supplies, and countless other factors. Keeping tabs on how much these are increasing your cost is important, but how are you getting it to begin with?
You need to know how you intend to pay to start a business. From filing legal documents and obtaining licenses to getting the food you'll be serving, you'll be spending plenty before your restaurant's doors are open.
Before you've so much as looked at properties for sale, you should organize how you intend to pay. Is this money coming out of your personal savings, or is it a pooled effort from fellow entrepreneurs? Will the bank be giving you a loan, or will you be pitching the idea to investors?
No matter what you decide, organize your funds beforehand. Doing so can stop you from being halfway through the process and having to abandon it. Quitting prematurely isn't just a strike to your dreams — you may end up losing tens of thousands of dollars in effort and materials.
Speaking of payment, one of the things you'll need to buy is the supplies for your restaurant. Knowing what you'll need to stock up on is vital to knowing the pricing of your endeavor.
What you'll stock up on changes depending on your restaurant concept. Buffets, for example, need drastically more silverware, plates, and bowls since people serve themselves. Rather than having a few dishes, some tables can wrack up three times what the average guest in another restaurant needs.
You'll also need to order furniture, linens, toiletries, and everything else the average restaurant needs. In short, you've got a lot of supplies you need to buy before you can open the doors. Keep everything on a checklist and make sure you're well-stocked with much more than you think you'll need.
Define Your Menu
With everything done, what are you serving? Such a decision goes beyond knowing the concept of your restaurant. Once you have a head chef or culinary director, the first thing you should do is get to work on a menu.
Designing a menu isn't just throwing some of your favorite dishes onto paper and calling it a day. Defining your cuisine requires you to test and create new dishes to please both your audience and your own high standards.
Additionally, don't expect to design a menu at the start and be done with it. The culinary arts are continuously changing and you'll likely be adding and changing dishes throughout the year. Seasonal specials and changes are also great for drawing in new customers and impressing old ones.
You should also think of different diets and how you can accommodate guests that may have dietary restrictions. Vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, and other diets are all highly common to see in a restaurant. Design your menu with these restrictions in mind to truly flourish with something for everyone to enjoy.
Attract Customers and Open Up
Your restaurant is built, your staff hired, and your fridges stocked, but how do you get people in the door? It's not an easy task, but advertising is one of the most crucial parts of opening a restaurant.
You should begin advertising your restaurant well before the doors are open. An advertising campaign while your restaurant prepares to open will help make sure your first days and weeks are spent with a line of hungry customers.
Many locals will likely drive by your restaurant and note that it's something new, already deciding to try your cuisine. For the rest, consider advertisements that can reach the community around you. Local billboards and signs can help make sure your name is familiar to people around you.
Social media campaigns can also help get your name in people's minds. Engaging with other local businesses and growing your platform will help advertise without having to spend much. Best of all, social media campaigns are free - you can often pay for promotions, but creating and promoting your own page accrues no cost.
If your budget is higher, you may also want to create an entire advertising campaign. Whatever your tactics are, make sure you're doing as much as possible to get people in the doors once they open.
How to Open a Restaurant
It isn't easy to open a restaurant, but you can conquer every challenge with enough determination. Make a checklist of everything you need for compliance, supplies, and general operation. Do your best to stay ahead of the demands of your business to keep everything running as smoothly as possible.
If you'd like to know more about how to open a business, contact us. You can also browse our website to learn more about how to make running a restaurant easier.