Do you want to open a restaurant? Are you not sure where to start? If so, this guide is here to help. The following seven steps will show you how to start a successful restaurant.
Table of Contents
1. Find your place in the market
What type of restaurant are you planning on opening? Will it provide an extravagant fine dining experience with classical French cooking? Maybe it will be a relaxed affair where casual Mexican food is served?
Regardless of what option you go with, it’s important you pick one that can really thrive in your local target market. A new pizza restaurant in New York, for instance, is highly unlikely to succeed due to how saturated that market is in the city.
However, even a saturated market doesn’t necessarily mean you should put your plans on hold. If you can put a unique twist on things, it’s possible to stand out from the crowd – even if you’re cooking the same type of cuisine and targeting the same type of clientele.
2. Produce a business plan
A business plan is an essential step to take for anyone planning to start their own company. If you are aiming to secure financing for your restaurant – which is typically recommended rather than self-financing with your own personal savings – a business plan is the only way to get the attention of traditional banks.
A business plan is not just your access to financing, either. It’s also a fantastic reason to put in research about your planned restaurant.
You can learn more about how much kitchen equipment, décor, food ordering systems, etc., will cost. You’ll understand operational costs and the type of income you’ll have to generate to stay afloat. Discovering additional information about your local competition will also play an important part in your business plan.
3. Pick a location
Simply put, location can make or break your restaurant. There are various points to consider in that regard. In an ideal scenario, you’d have a location right in the heart of your local town or city, where it’s visible to anyone walking past. Yet a central location tends to come attached with a much higher rental rate. The premises itself may also be smaller than you hoped.
On the flip side, you could go with a location on the outskirts. The building could be much larger while the rent is more affordable. The downside of this, however, is limited footfall due to not having a central spot. People are also less likely to go out of their way to visit when more conveniently placed eateries are available.
4. Design an irresistible menu
Well, this goes without saying. You must place a strong emphasis on putting together a menu that is going to excite and entice potential customers. People are ultimately coming to your restaurant for the food, so you need to serve up dishes they crave.
When putting together a menu, be careful not to fall into the trap of adding too many dishes. The more items you have on your menu, the more ingredients you will need. The more ingredients you need, the more waste that’s produced – along with a greater reliance on using your freezer to store less in-demand food items.
Keep your menu simple and focus on specific dishes. This will ensure quality remains high while your chefs are not confused trying to cook 100+ different dishes!
You could also try implementing digital menu boards in your restaurant, it’s a modern and clear way to show what you have to offer. You can also update it with a click of a button instead of having to print new menus and climb ladders to replace old ones
5. Prepare your space
There are two main areas of your restaurant: front of house and the kitchen. Both of these need to be prepared correctly before you open the doors to customers.
For the front of the house, it’s important to create a space that will appeal to diners. Beautiful décor and comfortable seating can go a long way to creating a positive atmosphere in your restaurant. Also, factor in space between each table. While you’d like to try and fit in as many people as possible, customers will feel awkward and cramped if placed too close to each other.
As for the kitchen, you’ll know what appliances are necessary. However, it’s important you carefully consider your kitchen’s configuration. You don’t want everyone getting in the way of each other. You also have to make sure your kitchen staff has enough space to comfortably get their tasks done.
Another point to consider for both spaces is heating and air conditioning. You want to control the temperatures in both spaces. You want to ensure the kitchen doesn’t get too hot, otherwise, this could cause unnecessary discomfort for your kitchen staff. The same can also be said for diners. Keeping the dining area at a comfortable temperature is essential.
6. Get the word out
Advertising your restaurant and getting the word out is key – particularly when you’re just starting out. You need people to know your eatery exists. While location can play a role, there are various tactics you should implement.
First of all, a website is a must. This site should be the hub for all of your online marketing activities. It includes all of the important information about your restaurant – address, opening hours, menu, etc. – in an easy-to-find place for potential customers. In addition, it’s the key component for your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
Social media is another useful online marketing tool. Platforms with a particular visual emphasis – think Instagram and TikTok – are a great way to advertise your food creations and get people salivating.
Even if your main focus is online advertising, don’t overlook the potential of traditional marketing. Posted leaflets, particularly those that include your menu, can be a great way to grab the attention of people.
7. Build your reputation
Your restaurant is open. You’re serving up great food. Now it’s time to keep the momentum going to build up your reputation. Word of mouth and positive online reviews are a sure-fire way of attracting new diners, and this can be achieved by not letting anything slip.
Keep up the top-tier service and quality food, and you will become one of the main foodie destinations in your area!