Learn How to Open a Small Restaurant

Languid afternoon in a cozy restaurant.
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Small restaurants have many advantages over larger establishments. Small restaurants offer instant ambiance and coziness and are ideal for a concept like a café or a bistro. They require less start-up capital for equipment, maintain less staff, and cost less in terms of utilities and maintenance. Even with a small amount of seating, smaller restaurants can still produce sizeable profits.

Choose the Right Location for a Small Restaurant

No matter what size restaurant you are thinking of opening, location is one of the most important factors (if not the most important factor) to consider. Not every available space is right for a restaurant. A good restaurant location is hard to find. What may look like the perfect spot — say a bustling pedestrian street in the heart of downtown — may turn out to be a dud. Other times a spot that you would never think to put a restaurant — like in an old factory in a former industrial park — is a success.


Planning a Small Restaurant Dining Room

Very small dining rooms, while offering instant coziness, can be somewhat of a puzzle when it comes to fitting in all the necessary pieces. The dining room, no matter type of concept you are planning, is the heart of your restaurant. A typical restaurant dining room design includes seating, wait stations, and storage. While it may be tempting to cram more seating in your dining room ​than is comfortable, this only results in poor service, making it hard for staff to maneuver between tables and hard for customers to enjoy their meal.

The rule of thumb with setting up restaurant tables is that each table should be between 24 and 30 inches apart. You may want to consider restaurants booths, as a pace saving option in your dining room. Just like restaurant chairs, booths come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and color.

Flexibility is also important when planning a smaller dining space. Allow tables to be moved together for larger parties or broken apart for smaller parties are much more accommodating. No matter how the tables are arranged in your restaurant dining room, it is important that there is a clear path in and out of the dining room, for staff and customers. Read more about planning a restaurant dining room

Write Your Business Plan

No matter if it is a small café or a sprawling eatery/conference center, you will need a business plan to secure any kind of financing. Think of your business plan like a roadmap to success. It will lay out important items like your start-up budget, expected profits and losses, payroll, and other operating expenses. As you research information for your restaurant business plan, you may encounter issues you hadn’t considered previously, such as licensing, health codes and tax laws. Read on to find out how to create a restaurant business plan.

Promote Your Small Restaurant

High turnover and high check averages mean higher profits, even for small restaurants. Therefore it is important that you promote your small restaurant. There are many ways to market your restaurant, from traditional advertising like local papers and radio spots to newer mediums like social marketing. A social media marketing campaign can help restaurants woo new customers, let you check out the local competition and think of new ways to reach customers through sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Successful restaurants don't have to be huge. Some of the most popular restaurants in the world are housed in small, intimate spaces. While small restaurants come with their own set of challenges, they offer a unique dining experience and sense of exclusivity that appeal to customers.