Many people dream of opening a restaurant. However, the hard reality is that with all of the time, money, and consideration that goes into such a project, relatively few actually take the steps to make it happen. This doesn’t mean you should be discouraged, but it does mean that to open a restaurant, you’ve got to be extremely calculating, organized, and focused on your goal.
This roundup includes 12 things you need to know to open a restaurant. From tips on financing and creating a business plan to choosing the right location and curating the proper menu, these are things that will help many an aspiring restaurateur realize their dreams.
12 Things You Need To Know to Open a Restaurant. Before you embark on the journey of opening a restaurant, do consider these twelve things. They may help you avoid potential pitfalls!
- Location is key. Location, location, location. It’s a famous and perhaps overused phrase, but when it comes to a restaurant, it’s true. Having a location that “works” doesn’t always mean the same thing. There are benefits to having a busy downtown location with lots of foot traffic, but then there are benefits to setting up in a strip mall with plenty of parking. Evaluate your restaurant’s style, price, and demographic so that you can make an educated decision on the best location.
- Be clear on your concept and vision. Have absolute clarity on your restaurant concept and vision. By having a clear vision, you won’t be sidetracked by unexpected whims like making a tiki-themed bar in your Irish pub. Have a clear vision and stick to it with laser focus to keep your project on time and within budget.
- Don’t cut corners. It can be tempting to cut certain corners in the effort of saving a few bucks now. But be warned that this decision may come back to haunt you. If you buy cheap dishware, it may break more frequently and end up costing you more to replace than if you had just bought the better stuff to begin with.
- You need to make a business plan. A business plan is absolutely key in building a restaurant. Not only does it help you gain clarity in your goals and plans, but it allows you to realistically figure out a budget and assess risks. This post offers an informative guide on how to make a business plan.
- Financing is vital. It’s not extremely likely that you’re going to have all of the funds to open a restaurant right in your bank account. In fact, the likelihood is very high that you will have to secure financing from a variety of sources, from a bank loan to private investors. Your business plan is helpful in assisting you to procure the funding.
- Hire carefully. Even if you have the best location, the coolest decor, and the best food in town, your restaurant won’t go over well if it’s served by a surly or unreliable staff. The staff is typically a customer’s first experience of a restaurant, so make sure to hire a great manager and choose staff carefully.
- Create a unique menu. You don’t want your restaurant to be a cookie cutter experience. While it’s smart to have some standby items on your menu, be sure to leave your mark with a unique, yet balanced, menu. You want to give customers a reason to come to your restaurant rather than another, and the food is what they will keep coming back for.
- Study the competition. Be aware of your competition, including similar themed restaurants as well as different restaurants in close proximity. You may begin to notice trends that can benefit your restaurant, too. For instance, if the Italian joint across the block has been busy since debuting a happy hour special, this might be an idea that you can mimic, even if your restaurant serves Asian fusion food.
- Unanticipated events will occur. No matter how solid your business plan, no matter how steady your staff and cooking, things are going to go wrong from time to time; that is a natural part of the restaurant experience. Whether it’s an employee walking out mid-shift, a bad batch of fish, or a linen delivery that never comes, try to ride the wave and roll with it to minimize damage.
- Just because you built it doesn’t mean they will come. Just because your restaurant has opened its doors doesn’t mean it’s going to be bursting with customers. Sometimes, growth is slow. This can be difficult to endure, especially if so much of your time and money has gone into this project.
- You need to be a tireless marketer. The work of marketing a restaurant is never over. You have to constantly be introducing people to your restaurant and reminding repeat customers that you’re still there. This includes offering specials, being active on social media, and working with local businesses.
- Being a restaurant owner is beyond a 40 hour work week. If you think that running a restaurant is a 9-5 gig, think again. It’s an all-consuming task that requires a lot of time and energy on your part. Things like 2am calls about how the bartender forgot his keys to lock out, or the power going out during dinner rush can and will happen. When opening a restaurant, these things can and will happen.
What to do with this knowledge. This list is not meant to scare you off from opening a restaurant; it is meant to impart valuable knowledge so that you can avoid some of the common pitfalls that many a restaurateur before you has dealt with.
Conclusion: Opening a restaurant can be an extremely difficult and stressful process, even to the most organized and in-control individuals. However, once those doors open and the customers begin to come, it is a process that is well worth the effort. Knowing about some of the battles you may have to wage before you enter the process can be helpful so that you can proactively deal with them and minimize stress.
What do you think is the hardest part about opening a restaurant?