Thinking of opening a restaurant?
The path it takes to finally get to opening day can feel convoluted and stressful.
Luckily, there are plenty of observable success stories that can inspire you to press on to achieve your dreams.
Here is your comprehensive guide to opening a restaurant.
Know Your Style
The most important foundation you want to establish before you do anything else to is to find your style.
If you are a chef, you probably already know what cuisine you wish to serve, and what style you are best at. Otherwise, if you are an individual starting a business venture, you may have trouble finding your “voice”, so to speak, in the restaurant industry.
One way to figure out what you want your restaurant to be is to reflect on the food you like best.
Did you take a trip to Italy and experience an incredible Italian meal in the picturesque fields of Tuscany? Ditch the Olive Garden route and go for an authentic Italian meal in a beautiful setting. Once you find your style, everything else—the menu, the location, and the aesthetic of your eatery—will fall easily into place. Keep this in mind when you envision the atmosphere of your restaurant.
Write a Business Plan
To make your dreams a reality in the restaurant industry, you will have to deal with practical matters every day.
Your first step will be to create a business plan. This is absolutely essential to getting your business off the ground and flying, as opposed to shutting down quickly within a few years. If you do not have much experience in accounting, management, or law, you may want to hire an expert who can help you in this field.
Someone such as a financial advisor can outline realistic financial parameters and goals that you can feasibly achieve in the coming years. The first few years are often the toughest to endure, but an expert will make sure you are running smoothly and staying with tax law and city and state regulation.
Pick a Location
Your location is pivotal to the success of your business.
Some restaurants need a more strategic scheme than others. Fast food franchises often locate themselves off freeways and near industrial areas to attract the lunch crowd and people on the go. If you rely on the retail rush—those going to and from large shopping districts—you will have to position yourself as near a mall as possible on the side that gets the most customer exposure. If you are a budding brewery, however, you might have the ability to go anywhere from a business-industrial part of town to a young “artsy’ area.
As mentioned, your style will ultimately determine which location best suites you. As a rule, the more easily accessible, the better.
Also, remember that the success of your restaurant primarily depends on your location, so do your research and choose your location carefully. Using Web-based mapping technologies like Maptive to scout for the perfect place for your business is also a great idea to aid you in making a more informed decision. With such a tool, you will be able to identify the areas where you have the most competition and will help you decide on the best location for your business.
Obtain Proper Permits and Licenses
Whether you are signing off on a location, or getting proper restaurant certification, you will need to make sure you get them all prepared before opening day. Otherwise, you leave yourself open to crippling legal issues.
You likely know right away whether or not you want to serve alcohol. If you do, it is necessary to look into the proper permits and guidelines. The true costs of a liquor license can vary, but putting in the time and money to get one will pay off.
Another type of license your employees should have is a food handler license. As a restaurant owner, you should ensure every employee who prepares food goes through training and obtains his license.
Your employees are the face of your company.
Hire those that have a proven track record of friendly customer service and a strong work ethic.
Nobody wants a rude hostess. Screen candidates for these attributes to make sure your guests have a consistently enjoyable experience.
Harness Social Media
There is no better way to quickly and efficiently spread up to date information and bring in guests than to utilize all social media resources. Millions of people every month look for new places to try on apps like Yelp, Foursquare, and Zomato.
Earn positive reviews quickly by offering promotions for leaving their review.
Offering free or discounted food or beverage items is a great way to put them in a positive mood to leave a review.
In addition, sites like Instagram and Facebook are still an efficient means of communication because millions of people use it every day. Facebook is where you can spread the word about any updates, and Instagram is a great way to display your food, your staff, and general atmosphere to draw in curious patrons.