How to Open a New Restaurant

Hispanic chef working on paperwork in restaurant
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Before you open a new restaurant there are many aspects that need to be addressed, to assure success. Running a restaurant is more than just offering food in exchange for money. Restaurants offer a very tangible experience for customers. People dine out for a whole host of reasons: convenience, celebrations, date nights. This means there are many different styles and concepts of restaurants to consider. Even after you've decided the type of restaurant you want to open, you need to make sure that there is a market for it (know who your customer is), that the concept is within your budget, and that you can find the right location.


Decide if Owning a Restaurant is Right for You

Restauranting is hard work. It may seem glamourous and fun, but it all boils down to hard work. Ask anyone in the food business, and they will tell you about long hours they put into it. It’s important to understand all the various jobs that are involved in running a restaurant. From bookkeeping, to cooking to PR, as the owner you are responsible for it all.


Decide on a Restaurant Concept

Deciding what type of restaurant you want to open will depend of a variety of things. Often times people who want to open their own restaurant want to serve food they like to cook, in an atmosphere they feel comfortable in. Other people are interested in Franchising. Restaurant franchises offer a number of benefits, including instant name recognition and built-in marketing. However, many restaurant franchises don't come cheap and owners must be willing to follow a stringent set of rules.


Choose a Location for Your Restaurant

Location is vital to the success of any restaurant. There are several factors to consider when searching for that perfect restaurant location, including population base, local employment figures and accessibility. Once you find that perfect location, you will need to make sure you negotiate the best lease possible for your restaurant.


Know Who Your Customers Are 

Baby boomers have distinctly different dining preferences than Millennial. Parents with small children have different needs than singles or empty-nesters. As you get ready to start a restaurant, it's important to understand who your core customers are (or who you want them to be).  Researching your areas population base will tell you important demographic information which can impact your restaurant's bottom line. Things like housing value, average household income, average age - will give you a good indication of who your potential customers are.

Once you have that information you can and contrasting it with existing restaurants in the area. 


Write a Business Plan

To prepare for your interview with the bank, you need to do your homework. Creating a business plan that outlines your restaurant and how you plan to make it profitable, will show the loan officer you mean business. Also make sure you arrive at the bank with all the necessary paperwork, including personal income statements, tax returns and anything else the banker ask you for.

Select the Perfect Restaurant Name

Restaurant names may reflect a theme (Mexican, Chinese, Continental), a location, or simply be a play on words. The important thing to consider is the impression it will leave on customers. Select a name that will be easy to customers to remember and spell. Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to find a restaurant online or in the Yellow Pages because you aren't spelling it correctly.


Write the Menu

Your menu is a huge part of your restaurant. After all, it is essentially why your customers keep coming back. They love the food. The layout and design is just as important as what’s listed on the menu. Avoid amateur looking menu designs, such as clip art or photocopied handwriting. Finally, knowing how to price the menu will help increase your profit margins, giving you more money to invest into your restaurant.


Staff Your Restaurant

Hiring the right staff is crucial to any new restaurant. Good food loses much of its appeal if it accompanied by bad service. Knowing the basic employee roles of the back of the house and the front of the house will help you select the best candidate for the job. Experience counts for important positions, such as head cook, dining room manager and bartender.


Purchase Equipment for Your Restaurant

Outfitting your restaurant kitchen, dining room and bar is the largest part of your start up budget. Shop around for bargain deals of used equipment and leased equipment. Also understanding needs vs. wants is important in avoiding the pitfalls of buying unnecessary furniture and equipment, which can set you way over budget. Begin with the basics, and once you have those you can pick up a few extras.