How to Start a Restaurant in 11 Easy Steps

restaurant owners in kitchen

Dining out is one of our favorite national pastimes. If you’re thinking of joining this lucrative industry by opening a restaurant, where do you start? It can be a minefield juggling all of the different elements which come together to form a successful business. 

Fortunately, we’ve broken the process down into 11 easy steps. Read on to learn how to start a restaurant!

1. How to Start a Restaurant – Brand and Concept

Your concept is the type of food you will offer, the style of service and the ambiance you will create. Meanwhile, your brand forms the identity and mission of your restaurant.

Think about the sort of experience you want to create for your clientele. Identifying your vision is crucial to form a cohesive and unique business. These two characteristics should guide you in the following steps. 

2. Consider Your Menu

Perhaps your idea of offering a particular cuisine is what has led you to take this step of opening a restaurant. Otherwise, it’s important to have this idea clear, if not yet completely planned out. 

You will need to know how you want this to work, in order to plan things like restaurant layout, staffing, equipment, etc. 

If you’re not a chef, speak to some chef friends for inspiration and advice.

3. Form Your Business Plan

Now you have the vision, you need a plan. If you will be relying on loans and investors to help get things off the ground, they need to be convinced of your business’s viability. Outline your market research, management plan, marketing strategies, and financial projection. 

4. Find the Finance

From the previous step, you should have identified how much money you’ll need for start-up and ongoing sustainability. Create a budget to assess how much you will need to stay open for the first year. Don’t forget things like licenses! 

If you’re in the position to completely self-fund, lucky you! This makes this step a lot easier for you. Otherwise, consider which sources of finance you’ll draw upon, and how it will be distributed. 

5. Choose a Location

There are 4 key factors to consider when choosing where to open your restaurant:

  • Local competition. Some local competition will help with marketing and footfall. Too much will make it hard to stand out. If your concept is unique you should draw the crowds.
  • Demographics. Think back to the experience you want to create for your diners. Will your target clientele visit your restaurant in this area? If that seems unlikely, this is not the neighborhood for your business venture.
  • Prominence. Your restaurant needs to be visible in order to attract customers. In time your reputation will spread through marketing and word of mouth. But you will also need a natural footfall from passers-by. You should also consider accessibility in terms of parking and transport connections. Of course, another consideration is accessibility for those with mobility issues.
  • Employee costs. Be aware of the local minimum wage, as well as salary expectations. These can vary from area to area. It’s worth remembering that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

6. Licensing and Permits

Once you have decided on a location, it’s good to seek some legal advice on what sort of local, state and federal licenses are required. You’ll want everything to be above board and an expert can help with this. 

7. Source Your Suppliers

In order for your business to run smoothly, you need suppliers that you can depend on, like Premier Packaging. The last thing you need is to be let down by broken equipment or delayed deliveries of goods.

Choose your suppliers based on reputation, reviews, customer service, and location. You might be tempted to cheap-out, but you’ll pay in the long run. 

8. Plan the Layout

To plan the layout of your restaurant, you’ll need to consider your theme and service type. You need to ensure a smooth flow from the front-of-house to the kitchen. Wait staff and diners need enough space to move freely and independently of each other. 

9. Recruit Your Team

First of all, look back on your budget and assess how much money you have allocated to financing your employees. Consider all of the different roles you’ll need – both on and off the restaurant floor.

For some roles, experience will be essential. For others, it’s more important to find the right energy and attitude. 

10. Spread the Word

It’s time to let the public know that your fantastic new enterprise is coming soon! Ensure that you have a great website and a social media presence.

Consider local media too, or perhaps offering special promotions to local residents. After all, they could become your best customers!

11. The Grand Opening!

Before your official opening day, it’s valuable to host a ‘soft opening’ with some select invited guests. This helps you to identify and iron out any teething problems before the public come in. 

At your grand opening, invite high-profile locals and media to ensure that the moments are captured and the word spreads!

The Bottom Line

If you’re wondering how to start a restaurant, follow these 11 key steps to make sure your new venture is a success! Put the time into forming a solid plan, and you’re sure to reap the benefits.

Are there any other tips we’ve missed out? Let us know in the comment section below!