Items to Consider Before Opening a Restaurant

Determine If Starting a Restaurant Is Right for You

Launching your own restaurant brings a host of challenges, from writing a business plan to marketing your establishment. It's been said that about a third of all new restaurants fail in the first year because their owners aren't fully prepared to tackle everything that's involved in turning the place into a hit. Having a specific checklist of all you should accomplish can help ensure that you're one of those who make it.  

Patience and Perseverance

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Many people dream of opening their own restaurant, but they don’t realize the amount of work involved. Restaurant owners need to work long hours either performing or overseeing tasks, such as the finances, ordering and scheduling deliveries, food preparation, and customer service.

Restaurants aren't a get-rich-quick opportunity. A successful restaurant requires patience and perseverance. You will need stamina and a good support network on which you can rely.  

Restaurant Concepts

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You can choose from many types of restaurant concepts, from a fast food franchise to an elegant fine dining establishment. Think about your intended customer base when you're considering a restaurant concept. Families, singles, and college students will gravitate toward different types of establishments. 

Determine the amount of money you're willing to invest. Decide whether you want to start small and grow, or start big. It’s important to have a defined concept in mind before you begin to write your business plan.

Location, Location, Location

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A good location is vital for any restaurant, and not all locations are equal. Factors to consider include visibility, traffic—either on foot or by car—size, and cost. When you have found a place, you should have a clear understanding of your financial obligations, such as paying for any necessary renovations, and have them included in a written agreement between you and your landlord.

Restaurant Equipment

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One of the largest expenses in opening a new restaurant is buying commercial-grade equipment. It can quickly eat up much of your start-up capital. The good news is that restaurant equipment is durable, and buying certain pieces second-hand can save you a lot of money.

Second-hand restaurant equipment can be purchased at local auctions or stores, or online shopping sites such as chefmark and ebay.

The Menu

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You might want to create a restaurant menu first and build your concept around it, or vice versa. Either way, creating a restaurant menu is more than just writing up a list of dishes with descriptions. It should represent your restaurant concept and be geared for your customer base. For example, if your location is near a college and your customers are largely college students, you may want to feature quick menu items that can be eaten there or taken out, such as soup, sandwiches, wraps, and salads.

It's important to understand food costs and how to maximize your profits. It’s also good to know some design tricks that will make your menu easier to read or more enticing—or consult a creative person who can assist you with the design.

Healthy Children's Meals

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Restaurants across the country are under pressure to create healthy children’s menus, resulting in fast food giants like McDonald's including various options in their kids' meals. Adjusting your children’s menu to offer healthy meals make sense. There are many ways to improve the nutritional value of restaurant meals that are both easy and affordable.

Restaurant Management

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Effective restaurant management includes both the front and back of the house operations. Managing a restaurant includes handling finances, stock, inventory, public relations, and staff relations.

Customer Service

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The promise of good food will lure customers to your restaurant, and good service will keep them coming back. How you handle customer complaints, show customer appreciation, and promote your restaurant is important for return business in a field where the customer is always right. 

Restaurant Promotions

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Restaurant promotions can range from the standard happy hour to specialty tasting dinners. Promotions can run nightly, weekly, monthly, or less frequently. They're a good way to bring in extra business during slower shifts such as mid-week evenings.

Restaurant Catering

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Adding catering services offers an opportunity to increase sales and expand your customer base. Catering options can be on-site or off-premises. Opportunities include business catering, holiday catering, or large events like weddings, as well as community fundraising events.

Catering is ideal for restaurants that already employ a trained staff and own much of the necessary equipment. 

The Advantages of Technology

Consider investing a portion of your start-up capital in top-of-the-line technology. It can go a long way toward simplifying the start-up process, as well as day-to-day operations. Selecting the right point-of-sale (POS) system is a good place to start, and it can help you manage inventory, track the popularity of menu items, and control costs.