How to Open a Restaurant

Opening a restaurant can be a great idea for those who want to own a business. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has been very hard on the hospitality sector and many entrepreneurs had to postpone the big openings of their venues. Even though getting started might be more difficult in these uncertain times, it is certainly a good moment to start preparing for becoming an owner of a restaurant.

Step by step guide to opening a restaurant

Starting your own business and opening a restaurant requires careful planning. Here you can read about 10 most important steps of this process.

  1. Think of a concept for the restaurant

You have to ask yourself what type of restaurant you would like to open and where would you like it to be located. Think of what the purpose of the restaurant will be. You can be creative with that and the more original idea the better as nowadays it can be difficult to stand out. Thinking of a concept for the restaurant includes also deciding on what type of food you will be serving and how you will decorate the venue. It is also important to outline the business goals you have.

  • Create your restaurant brand

The restaurant brand should reflect on your concept for the venue. Through your brand, you will make yourself known to the public. The things that make up your brand include things like the name of your restaurant, logo, and the design of the menu.

  1. Create a sample menu

The menu is possibly the most important thing about a restaurant. After all, people come to the venue to try the food. That’s why a menu shouldn’t just be a list of things you intend to serve. You should give a lot of thought to coming up with ideas for dishes and you should create a unique menu design.

When creating a menu you should think of the type of clients you want to attract. Based on that you should also come up with prices. The prices cannot be too high so you can manage to sell the items, but they cannot be too low so you end up not being able to support your business. It is always a good idea to do a cost analysis before you decide on the prices.

  1. Prepare a business plan

No matter what business you want to open, whether it’s a restaurant or something else, you need a detailed business plan. The main parts of a business plan are:

sectionwhat you should include
Executive Summarywrite a general overview of what your idea for the restaurant is
Overview of the companyexpand on the information you included in the summary
Menuexplain what the menu will be like
Management structureprovide an overview of your experience and who the team is
Employeesoutline how many employees the restaurant will to hire
Analysis of the competitiondo research into who your competitors in the area are
Marketing strategyexplain how you will advertise the venue
Financial analysisprovide a prognosis for how the restaurant will perform financially and what the costs of running it will be
  1. Choose a location

Where your business is based can affect how well it will perform and how lucrative it will be. The most important factors to consider when picking a location for a restaurant are: demographics, competition, and how much customers would be willing to spend. Moreover, you have to make sure that potential customers will be able to easily find the venue.

  1. Think about finances

Opening a restaurant can be expensive. In addition to thinking about how much it will cost to open one, you have to think about the cost of daily operations. You also need to decide on how you will manage the finances once the restaurant is up and running.

  • Get funding

Most people will need some form of financial assistance to open a restaurant. There are a few options for you to get funding. The most common ones include traditional commercial loan, small business loan, investors, and crowdfunding.

Getting an investor or using crowdfunding platforms to raise money can help you avoid getting into debt.

  1. Get necessary permits and licences

No matter which country you want to open your restaurant in, you will need to obtain several permits and licences. Getting all of them involves a lot of paperwork and it can be a lengthy process. Without these documents, however, your restaurant will not be allowed to operate legally.

  1. Design a floor plan

A floor plan describes how the interior and exterior of the restaurant will look like. The plan covers how space and tables will be arranged based on the workflow processes. It also designs the front-of-house space and back-of-house space. The main components of a floor plan are:

EntranceIt determines what the first impression of the place will be
BarShould be easily accessible by waiters
Dining roomThe most important area of the restaurant – should take up around 60% of the whole venue
KitchenA well-designed kitchen can make the staff be more efficient
RestroomsShould be easily accessible but separated from the dining room
Staff roomsThe area where your employees can rest and keep their things
  1. Hire staff

Hiring the right people is very important. They will represent you and your business in everyday interactions with customers. You should make sure that your employees enjoy working for you as if they do, they will put more effort into what they’re doing. For that reason, you should put a lot of thought into the benefits, training and incentives you will offer them.

To make the process of hiring employees easier you should make a list of available positions. They can be different for each business, depending on their size and needs. Common posts, however, include:

  • Managers
  • Kitchen staff
  • Front-of-house staff
  • Bar staff.
  1. Advertise the venue

Once you have everything set up, you have to let the customers know you exist. Thanks to advertising people can find out where you are located and what kind of food you offer. The best ways to advertise your restaurant are:

  • creating a website
  • building a social media presence
  • offering promotions to new customers
  • hosting a launch party
  • setting up a newsletter
  • partnering with other local businesses

10. Host an opening

Having a big opening is a great way to show customers what makes your venue special and to give them a chance to try the food. During the event, you can offer customers a trial menu that allows them to test a few dishes you offer. Thanks to hosting an opening you can make yourself known amongst the locals, who might later tell their friends and families about your business and help you grow. 

How to design the layout of a dining room?

The dining room is the most important part of the restaurant as that is where the customers will spend time during their visit. There are a few factors to keep in mind when deciding how to organise this space.

  • Seating capacity – there are certain requirements that regulate square footage per customer based on how big the room is and how many emergency exits are there
  • Furniture – make sure that the seats are comfortable and that the furniture matches your concept for the restaurant
  • Decor – you should add some decorations that will add character to the room and create a nice atmosphere
  • Cleanability – make sure the furniture and floors are made of the material that is easy to clean and that the layout of seats and tables allows for maintaining the cleanliness of the room

How much does it cost to open a restaurant?

So you already know that opening a restaurant can be expensive. There are a lot of costs that need to be taken into consideration before you commit to creating your own venue. The main ones include:

  • rent
  • bills
  • licenses and permits
  • salaries for employees
  • furniture and equipment
  • ingredients for food and drinks
  • insurance
  • marketing and advertising

Buying equipment and decorating the interior can generate the biggest costs upfront. Nevertheless, you should always buy good quality things and put effort into how the restaurant will look like. These things can affect the satisfaction of customers and the quality of food you’re serving.

You should also make an effort to make the exterior of the restaurant look nice. If you have an attractive outdoor area and good lighting, potential customers who are just passing by might decide to visit the venue. 

Getting help from experts

When it comes to marketing, you can try to advertise your venue yourself, or you can hire a PR expert. While the latter is undoubtedly the more expensive option, it can be beneficial in the long run. PR agencies know the market and more advanced strategies so they can reach a bigger audience than you. That’s why it might be worth making an investment.

If it’s your first time opening a restaurant, you might want to consider hiring a restaurant consultant, a lawyer, or a designer. These people can offer professional advice and guidance that can help you ensure that the opening and then running the business runs smoothly.

Things to keep in mind when opening a restaurant

  1. Do not hurry

Take time to think of a good concept for a restaurant and prepare a detailed business plan. Having a good, polished idea is the key to success. Once the restaurant is opened you might be tempted to take some risky steps. That usually isn’t a good idea when you first start. Take things slow and let your business grow.

  1. Be motivated

Motivation and hard work are the key to success. Even if you are not able to invest a lot in it at first, you can open a small venue and expand the business in a few years as it gets more visibility. You shouldn’t get discouraged if sometimes things don’t go as planned. Keep trying to fulfill your goals and you can be sure to be successful.

  1. Think about the future

Once your restaurant is operating and you have more and more customers you should ask yourself what step is next. You don’t want your restaurant to just stay the same forever. You want it to be more and more successful. That’s why as you get more income and more returning customers, you could maybe get a new venue, introduce some new services or invest in more advanced equipment. Make sure that you always think about ways to improve your business.