A Guide to Opening a Restaurant Business

Opening a restaurant business is an enormous capital venture with countless variables to perfect. When you think you’re ready to launch your restaurant, you will undoubtedly come across setbacks. Even after you’ve opened, you will face a constant stream of challenges; we’ve all seen Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. That being said, there are profound successes for every restaurant disaster story. The key to surviving is following the correct formula and adapting to changes within society. We will outline the perfect roadmap to opening your restaurant business throughout this article.

Conceptual Design

Before you do anything, you need to decide on the concept of your restaurant. How do you want guests to feel in your establishment? What will you be known for in years to come? Defining your idea will let you start building a menu, and from this, you can design the entire restaurant. Alternatively, you may be starting your journey further down the line; for instance, if you run a pop-up food stall or truck and you’re simply looking to transit into a restaurant. Either way, you need to choose the correct tone for your restaurant.

As a budding restaurant owner, you’ve likely been to other food establishments to pull ideas and scope out the competition. You need to decide where you will sit between Michelin star quality and Chick-fil-A. For opening a restaurant in 2022, you should be thinking about healthy meals, QR code menus, culturally diverse cuisine, and sustainability.

Local Business Opportunities

Now that you’ve got your restaurant idea and concept, you need to consider where it fits into the local area. You may come across untapped demographics or even challenges you didn’t foresee by conducting market research. The market research stage ensures that you create a menu that people will buy into. You need to be flexible and willing to change if the local area doesn’t fit your ideas.

After you’ve carried out deep market research, you need to research your competitors. This is an exciting time where you get to explore restaurants – and you can even have a meal or two along the way. During your research stage, you may find that restaurants in the area already offer the same concept as you. Again, you need to be willing to adapt your ideas to suit the local area.

Business Planning

With research carried out and your ideas in place, you need to build a business plan to guide you through the opening years. Writing your business plan will take you some time, but it’s well worth having it in place. You will need to do the following:

  • Include a summary of concept, brand, and ideas to make your business sound appealing to future investors
  • Write down the results of your market research alongside a thorough analysis
  • Work out where your funding will come from
  • Menu design and costings
  • Overhead estimations
  • Your estimated financial forecast – worked out from your restaurant capacity and menu prices
  • Include a plan for how to market your restaurant

A large part of writing a business plan is to let investors and potential partners know that you’ve thought through everything. In particular, they will want to be sure that you’ve fully considered the financial side of the business. Answer the question “How much does it cost to open a restaurant?” by reading this breakdown of the cost over on restaurants.yelp.com. You will find a wealth of other resources there, as well as intelligent tools to help you run your business.

Getting Set Up

With your business plan in place, you can choose the ideal restaurant location and begin to bring your vision to life. Take your initial concept and decide on a brand for your restaurant. From there, you will be able to design your interior, menus, and website. When a customer comes into your restaurant, the first impression of your food comes from the menu, so you need to make sure you get this right.

Customers tend to eat with their eyes, which means that they’re judging your kitchen and quality of food from the moment they walk in. Therefore, you need to make sure that you’ve got quality equipment in place throughout the front and back-of-house. The bathroom facilities are crucial – if you’ve got dirty toilets, people will assume your kitchen is filthy.

Cover Your Back

You need to make sure that you’re covered in case anything goes wrong, and there’s a lot that in a restaurant. You will need the following:

  • Business buildings insurance
  • Employers’ liability insurance
  • Public liability insurance
  • Business contents insurance

All of these will make sure that your business is safe in the event of legal fees, injuries on-site, and any damages that occur.

Remaining Legal

When running a restaurant, you have a duty of care to the public to ensure that your hygiene standards are high. Food safety guidelines come from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); they will regularly check to ensure that you are compliant. As well as being compliant with food, you will need to carry out regular risk assessments and fire safety checks. If you document precisely how you are protecting your employees and the public and testing your processes, you can’t go wrong.

You will need to ensure that you’ve got all the permits and licenses in place before you open your restaurant. You need a permit to serve alcohol, play music, and do many other activities. If you’re making changes to your restaurant site, you need to apply for planning permission. You will fail before you start if these aren’t in place before you open.

Now it’s time to launch your business and put your plan into action. Remember, you need to be flexible and willing to adjust aspects that aren’t working. In your first year, you need to decide what comes next for your business. Will you expand your brand, invest in new tech, or start a delivery service? There are countless avenues to explore that will help future-proof your restaurant business.

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About Dequiana Jackson

Dequiana Jackson, Founder of Inspired Marketing, Inc., helps overachieving women entrepreneurs conquer limiting beliefs and create marketing plans that grow their businesses. This includes one-on-one marketing plan development, digital product creation, web design and content marketing. Dequiana is the author of Know Your Business: How to Attract Ideal Clients & Sell More and runs the award-winning blog, Entrepreneur-Resources.net.

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