Starting your own restaurant may seem like an incredibly daunting task. From cooking and cleaning to business and management, there are a lot of things one must consider when starting a restaurant.
Although it may seem scary, and is indeed challenging, there are a lot of benefits to doing it as well. You can have your own unique idea presented to the world, and get the chance to share your food with others. Plus, you can make a nice profit.
Did you know that in 2019, more than 35% of Americans said they cooked three to five times per week? That leaves a lot of meals that they didn’t cook, which means more times they could potentially be coming to your restaurant.
So don’t despair. If you dream of starting your own restaurant, there are some restaurant owner tips that can help you out.
Choosing a unique brand
The first thing you want to do is think of a concept and a brand for your restaurant. While these may seem similar, there are a few differences between the two.
Your brand is the intangible force behind your restaurant. It is your business’s personality, idea, and public image. For example, if you want to make food baskets for people to send to their significant others, your brand may center around being light, fun, and romantic.
Your restaurant concept is the tangible things your customers will see. It is your menu options, service style, ambiance, and all the other things the customer will experience. This is where you think about how you want customers to feel in your restaurant, and work towards that.
Choosing your name is also important. A unique name that stands out from others will help you gain more customers.
Once you have these in mind, plan your restaurant around this. The setup and decor of the dining area contribute to the ambiance, and the personalities of your staff can contribute to the concept.
Make sure that all of this matches the food you create. If you’re opening a pizza restaurant, you probably won’t have a Japanese-themed dining area. But that’s just one of many restaurant owner tips for you.
Making your menu
When thinking about your menu, start with the basics. You don’t need concrete recipes yet— just consider the types of food you plan on serving, and the general feeling you want each dish to have. This will help you plan for other aspects of your restaurant, and when you’re ready, you can return to flesh out all of the items.
This also helps you figure out what kind of equipment and staff you may need, which will come shortly.
Lastly, consider not lining up the prices on your menu. If all of the prices are neatly lined up, guests are more likely to compare the prices and go with the cheaper options. Not lining them up can help with guests ordering more types of dishes, not just the cheap ones.
Creating your business plan
As with any business, one of the most important restaurant owner tips is to create a business plan. While there are some differences, it will mostly follow the same steps as any other business plan.
Start with the basics. A summary of your business, your mission statement, an overview of the company structure, market analysis, marketing, how you will make a profit, etc. Flesh out all of the details as they come. If this all seems daunting, you can consider looking at logistics companies to help you figure out the details.
Having your business plan will give you concrete guidelines on how to move forward with starting your restaurant. While there are many other restaurant owner tips to help you, this will possibly be the most important, and the most beneficial.
Once you have your business plan, it’s a good time to return to your menu. Now is the time to finalize your recipes, get your lists of ingredients, and figure out exactly what food you are going to make and how you’re going to make it. Also, finalize your pricing, so you have a better idea of what profit you may be able to bring in.
Location and licenses
Now that you have so many plans in place, it’s time to find a building! Choosing the right location is important. You want somewhere that is visible to the public, easily accessible, and where the kind of people you want are. If you start a restaurant that is geared towards young people, you probably don’t want it in the middle of a retirement community.
Also think about the competition in the area. If you are entering an area with a lot of restaurants, there will be a lot more competition. There is also the labor costs— consider minimum wage, what other restaurants pay, and how your workers will expect to be paid. This will give you a better idea of what the business side of being in the area will look like.
Then, there’s the legal side of things. This is where you may really need some restaurant owner tips. You have to make sure that you have all of the licenses and permits necessary to prepare and serve food— at the local, state, and federal levels.
You also have to consider how the building will run. This is when you start looking at space management, restaurant electrical service, a flooring company, interior design, and more. You want your restaurant to look and feel clean and inviting.
Safety is also important. Make sure that you meet safety guidelines, and that you have emergency exits, fire alarms, and other such necessities. Also, consider waste management, and something like roll off dumpster rental to make sure you have a way to dispose of your restaurant’s trash.
Here’s another thing that those who dream of owning a restaurant may not want to think about— finances. If you just want to be able to share your food with the world, then managing the financial side of a business may seem scary. But don’t worry. There are some restaurant owner tips to help you here too.
Start with your business plan. It will provide you almost all of the guidance you need. With that, you can try to determine how much startup costs will be. You have to think about costs for employees, the building, suppliers, and other services.
Then, try to calculate how much it will cost to keep the restaurant running for a year. You can do this by calculating a daily or weekly cost, then multiplying it. Ideally, you want to have enough money to cover your startup and first-year costs before you start.
The next of the restaurant owner tips is to find ways to fund. Fundraisers are a great option, as they not only give you money, but can help you garner interest in the community. You can also get loans, save money from your other job if you have one, or find other ways of raising money.
Finally, open up!
Now that you have all of your plans in place and your funding ready, it’s time to open your restaurant. This is the penultimate of these restaurant owner tips, and perhaps the most exciting.
There are a few steps that you have to take before your public opening. First, you need to find suppliers. You need both equipment and food. Make sure that your equipment is designed for commercial use.
Think about your needs, and find suppliers that are reliable, consistent, and fit your needs. For example, if you want to run a Mexican restaurant, you’re going to need to find good Hispanic food distributors.
Then, think about the setup of your restaurant. Layout is a very important element, as it affects how your guests will experience your restaurant. This is also one of the easiest restaurant owner tips: keep it simple and make sure it flows well. The easier your staff and guests can navigate the restaurant, the more they will enjoy being there.
When doing your layout, again return to your concept: do the decorations and theme fit your restaurant concept? If so, great, because it will help you create the environment you want your guests to be in.
This is also the time to think about storage companies, as you will need a way to store all of your supplies if you don’t have enough space in your restaurant. And once you have all these considerations in place, decorate your dining area!
Lastly, hire the right staff. Depending on the type of restaurant you have, you will need different types of staff. A kids restaurant won’t need a bartender, but a bar obviously will.
More importantly, though, is the type of people you hire. Make sure they are hardworking and reliable. Think about their personalities, and how they fit with your business concept.
If you have a bar, the most vital of the restaurant owner tips is to get the right bartender. A good bartender can read people well, and determine who likes to talk, who doesn’t, and who may be uncomfortable. This will allow them to form better relationships with your guests, thus enhancing your guests’ experience and bringing them back for more.
Now you’ve got your plans in place, you have your funding, the staff are hired, the dining room is decorated, and you’re ready to go. Could there possibly be any more restaurant owner tips?
Yes, there is one more.
Advertise your restaurant
Advertising and marketing are how you will get more people to come to your restaurant. Throughout all of your marketing, consider this: you want the people who see your ads to be informed about your restaurant, and also be interested in eating there. Remember to keep your ads simple and visually appealing.
You have a lot of options here, but there are a few that stand out. First, restaurant signs. If you place these in the area around your restaurant, more people will know that you are there.
Then there is social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms are all great ways of growing your client base. They get your name out there and allow you to share your food and ideas with potential guests.
One of the most important restaurant owner tips for marketing your restaurant is to create a Yelp account. Here, people can leave reviews for your restaurant, and you can inform potential guests. This builds relationships and helps other people know you are a reliable eatery.
Most restaurant owners always think of one thing for marketing: a grand opening. And this is a great idea! Hosting a big event for the opening of your restaurant, possibly with discounts, garners public interest in your business and gets people to come. It’s a great way to get your restaurant launched.
Before a grand opening, you could consider a soft opening. This is when you host a small, limited-attendance event to test out your restaurant. It could be a private party, opening only for breakfast and lunch hours, or a complimentary event for family and friends.
When you do this, run it like you plan to run your restaurant normally. Then, ask for feedback from the attendees regarding the feel, the flow of the restaurant, the food, and their experience. Use this feedback to improve your restaurant before your grand opening.
It also gives your staff a chance to practice and improve their conduct before the official opening. Soft openings can have many benefits, and really help you get your restaurant perfected before the grand opening.
Now, that was a lot. You thought about your brand, created your business plan, and got all your permits and licenses. You found suppliers and great staff. You looked at all of these restaurant owner tips, and now you feel ready.
So go and start your restaurant! Remember, if you stick to your concept and brand, plan well, and most importantly have fun, you can create a wonderful and delicious restaurant to eat at.