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How to Open a Restaurant in Chicago


The Chicago food scene has something for everyone, from regional specialties like Chicago-style hot dogs and deep-dish pizza to internationally famous James Beard Award winners and Michelin-starred, must-visit locations like Alinea. Many new restaurants are opened each year, intending to offer the best service and be successful worldwide. Therefore, success prospects may seem small, but running a restaurant in Chicago can be one of the most satisfying experiences. This article will take you through how to open a restaurant in Chicago, covering everything from selecting the menu to maintaining cleanliness and interior design.

What Sort of Cuisine Will You Serve?

When considering how to open a restaurant in Chicago, choosing the cuisine is the first step. You can find different types of food in Chicago, such as deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs. Yet, it is crucial to consider the neighborhood market and demographics while selecting a cuisine.

For instance, research the local market and consider opening a healthy restaurant. A recent study by the NPD Group, a reputable market research firm, found that 22% of Americans hunt for healthier meal options when dining out. Hence, healthy living tips should be part of your restaurant’s marketing plan to attract consumers concerned about their health.

Accessibility and pricing of ingredients are also essential considerations when deciding how to open a restaurant in Chicago. Ensure you acquire quality ingredients at fair prices to maintain profitability and give guests a fantastic dining experience. You should also consider the complexity and amount of preparation required for the foods you intend to offer. You can then decide how many employees you need, who they will be, and what equipment they will use to prepare your menu.

Another thing you need to consider as you ponder how to open a restaurant in Chicago is keeping up with culinary trends. This will help you choose what cuisine to serve. Food trade conferences, exhibitions, social media, and blogs are excellent resources for learning culinary trends. This will help you create a menu that stands out and draws food enthusiasts constantly looking for distinctive eating experiences. To produce a menu that appeals to your target audience and offers a memorable dining experience, choosing the proper cuisine for your restaurant involves carefully considering various aspects, including market demand, ingredient availability, and food trends.

Chinese Cuisine

You can find some of the top Chinese eateries in the country in Chicago, where you can choose between more contemporary dishes and places designed in the traditional pavilion style. According to a Food Fire Friends study, Chinese cuisine is the most popular food in the United States. The study shows 59% of Americans eat Chinese food at least once a month.

Thanks to Chicago’s distinctive culinary culture, opening a Chinese restaurant can be a profitable business venture. Serve authentic Chinese dishes like hot pot and Szechuan-styled meats. Your menu should comprise nothing short of the best Chinese food to draw in fans of the cuisine.

Italian Food

Italian food is always in demand and a hit with the public. Some of the country’s best Italian restaurants, serving traditional dishes and modern spins, can be found in Chicago. Including the best Italian cuisine in your marketing plan when launching an Italian restaurant is crucial to attracting food enthusiasts.

Consider offering various cuisines, such as vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives, to satisfy varied dietary needs. According to a National Restaurant Association survey, 40% of American consumers seek vegetarian options when dining out. Thus, serving vegetarian food might draw in a wide range of customers.

Maintaining the highest-quality, freshest ingredients is also essential to the success of any Italian restaurant in Chicago. The average American spends about $38 per week on Italian food, according to a Statista report. This means an Italian food business is highly profitable.

If you want your restaurant to stand out in Chicago’s crowded dining scene, it must provide a unique dining experience that sets it apart from other Italian restaurants. This can include offering cooking classes or hosting wine-tasting events to attract food enthusiasts interested in Italian cuisine. It can also assist in ensuring that the food is authentic and of the highest caliber to employ skilled chefs specializing in Italian cuisine.

Mexican Food

Authentic Mexican cuisine is a preferred option for diners, and the city of Chicago’s Mexican food industry is expanding quickly. Another tip on how to open a restaurant in Chicago is to integrate traditional cuisine from different parts of Mexico to stand out. According to a recent survey by Technomic, the top Mexican restaurant franchises in the US include Taco Bell, Qdoba Mexican Eats, and Chipotle Mexican Grill. Consider offering genuine Mexican cuisine and food connoisseurs will troop into your establishment in no time.

It’s also essential to ensure your ingredients are high-quality and fresh. 60% of American consumers say they are more inclined to go to a restaurant that uses locally produced ingredients, according to YouGov. Your food will be high-quality and fresh if you buy local ingredients, drawing more people to your restaurant.

Korean Cuisine

Numerous Korean restaurants in Chicago provide traditional meals and fusion food. In recent years, Korean cuisine has gained popularity, making it a lucrative business to operate a Korean restaurant. Ensure you properly investigate the local market and competition to succeed. According to Yelp, the top-rated Korean eateries in Chicago are Gogi, San Soo Gab San, and HaiSous. They serve traditional Korean dishes like bibimbap and kimchi.

Worldwide demand for Korean food is increasing, and the US is one of the top consumers. According to statistics from the Korean Customs Service, shipments of Korean food products reached a record high in 2020, totaling $4.3 billion. This shows the potential financial success of opening a Korean restaurant in Chicago, with rising demand for diverse cuisine. Yelp data also shows that Korean restaurants in Chicago have seen a 34% growth in popularity in recent years, demonstrating a significant demand for Korean food in the area.


Since they provide customers with various meals, buffet-style restaurants have long been a well-liked eating option. It’s crucial to consider the local competitors and ensure your Chicago buffet-style restaurant offers a distinctive dining experience. According to a survey by IBISWorld, the buffet restaurant sector in the US earns around $8 billion in revenue each year, proving the profitability of this kind of eatery. The research does, though, mention that the business has been declining recently due to increased competition from other dining options. To ensure that your buffet-style restaurant stands out, you must serve high-quality food and provide a distinctive eating experience.

Adding a buffet-style restaurant to a casino can boost foot traffic and earnings for the business. Casinos provide buffet-style restaurants as dining options. Forbes estimates that $54.93 billion in revenue was generated by the casino sector in the US in 2022. In Chicago, a buffet-style restaurant in a casino can be successful by providing a wide variety of foods and a distinctive eating experience.

Hygiene Is Essential

Keeping a clean and sanitary environment is mandatory in the food service industry. If you aren’t sure how to open a restaurant in Chicago, dealing with hygiene should be your starting point. If you fail to abide by the city’s strict health regulations, you’ll be fined, and your business may be closed. Proper food service cleaning is imperative to ensure your restaurant complies with the relevant health and safety requirements.

Maintaining hygiene requires keeping the kitchen and dining areas neat and thoroughly cleaning all surfaces, tools, and utensils. Also, you may significantly reduce the likelihood of spreading foodborne illnesses by training your personnel in correct food handling methods and personal hygiene.

Keeping a clean environment can also increase client loyalty and happiness. 90% of American consumers believe that cleanliness is the most crucial consideration when choosing a restaurant, according to a P & G survey. A Yelp study also revealed that 86% of customers would steer clear of a restaurant if they read a bad review about its hygiene. Because of this, investing in professional food service cleaning will help your restaurant not only comply with health standards and regulations but also draw in and keep customers.

Offer Live Music

In Chicago, a restaurant’s distinctive selling proposition might include live music. Music can improve diners’ eating experiences and create an ambiance they will remember. Live music can draw many customers, including music lovers, couples going out on date evenings, and groups commemorating important events. So it’s crucial to think about the music that complements the ambiance and overall theme of the establishment. For instance, a jazz band can provide energy to a casual restaurant, while pianos can complement a fine dining establishment.

Adding some live music can also positively impact revenue. According to a HUI study, live entertainment can boost restaurant sales by up to 9%. Furthermore, live music may persuade customers to linger longer and place bigger food and beverage orders.

It’s crucial to consider the expense of employing musicians and ensure it fits within the restaurant’s budget plan. In some circumstances, providing live music on specific nights or special occasions could be more economical. Ultimately, providing live music can be a novel method for a Chicago restaurant to improve the dining experience and boost business.

Decorate the Interior

A restaurant’s interior design can influence the dining experience and foster a friendly customer atmosphere. The cuisine, concept, or setting of the restaurant may serve as inspiration for the décor. Ropes, anchors, and fishing nets, for instance, can be used in a seafood restaurant, while red and white checkered tablecloths, oak seats, and Parisian paintings can be used in a French restaurant. It’s essential to consider the overall ambiance that the restaurant wants to create and ensure that the decor aligns with that vision.

You can use sculptures and art to give the restaurant’s interior decoration a distinctive touch. Paintings and photographs can provide a personal touch to the space, while metal art, for instance, might give it a contemporary and sleek look. Also, adding plants and flowers gives the design a natural touch and a warm and welcoming mood. It’s crucial to pick artwork and décor that enhances the restaurant’s overall concept and ambiance and gives the place a unified appearance. You can create a memorable eating experience that will entice consumers to return by carefully selecting the interior design of your establishment.

Hire the Right Staff

Employees can mean the difference between business success and failure. They are the most valuable asset since they are responsible for ensuring everything runs smoothly, providing excellent customer service, and making high-quality food. Hiring the right staff is essential while planning how to open a restaurant in Chicago. Assemble a group of experts committed to providing guests with a memorable dining experience and passionate about the restaurant’s menu.

It’s essential to consider the restaurant’s needs and budget while selecting workers. A fast-casual restaurant could need a small crew of servers and kitchen workers, whereas a fine dining establishment might need a sommelier or a professional bartender. It is also essential to consider your staff’s education and experience to ensure they can perform their jobs proficiently. Additionally, giving employees opportunities for training and development can help them perform better and improve the entire customer experience. You can build a talented and committed team that will contribute to the success of your establishment by recruiting the right employees and investing in their training and development.

Over To You

Are you still wondering how to open a restaurant in Chicago? Establishing your restaurant in Chicago can be a gratifying and profitable endeavor, but it needs careful planning, diligent effort, and the ability to change with the times and customer preferences. Using the tips in this article about how to open a restaurant in Chicago can increase your chances of success. So, are you ready to open your restaurant in Chicago? With the right strategy and a dedication to excellence, the sky’s the limit!

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