How to open a restaurant in 9 straightforward steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're passionate about food and hospitality, opening your own restaurant could be a great career choice. Starting your own business might seem daunting, but the process can be more straightforward if you understand the steps to take to get your restaurant started. In this article, we explain more about opening a restaurant and tell you how to open a restaurant in nine steps.

How to open a restaurant

To open a restaurant, there are a few steps you can follow to help to guide you through the entire process. This may include choosing a concept for your restaurant to selecting the right types of insurance before launch day. Here are steps to consider:

1. Choose a concept

Every restaurant requires a concept behind it, so thinking of a compelling idea is the first step. You might already know what type of food you want to serve and can use the menu to help you think of other ideas, like the type of atmosphere and service you want to have. Alternatively, you can start by considering what type of experience you want to create and make choices about food and other elements of the restaurant based on this idea. A great concept can help you stand out from competitors, so it's worth thinking carefully about what you want the restaurant to be like.

2. Perform research

It's very important to research both the market and your competitors before you open a restaurant. This helps you to identify opportunities and any potential challenges that you may face along the way. This information can help you to make decisions about your location, menu and prices. Market research involves identifying your ideal customer. Think about what type of food these customers enjoy and their budget. You can then make plans that appeal to these factors.

Competitor research involves looking at who is already operating locally. If you find many established restaurants with a similar concept to yours, you might have to think about your plans again. If your concept is the first of its kind in the area, it might be worth thinking about why and making sure there really is a market for your concept.

3. Write a business plan

Once you're confident in your concept, you can create a business plan that summarises your idea and how you plan to start the restaurant. A well-thought-out business plan can also help you secure funding from lenders and investors. Some of the most important points to include in your business plan are:

  • a summary of your concept and an overview of the plan

  • the findings of your research

  • details of the funding

  • information about your menu and prices

  • a marketing plan

  • details of your overheads

  • financial forecasts

4. Pick a location

The next step is deciding on a viable location for your restaurant. Your market research might have already given you ideas about where to open the business, and you might wish to carry out more research to be certain about the location. It helps to choose a location where your concept fits in, for example, a luxury restaurant fits in better in exclusive areas.

Finding somewhere where the business is visible is also important. When you're choosing the building, you're going to base the restaurant in, consider the cost of the building and make sure this fits in with your business plan. It can also be helpful to research how successful businesses that have previously worked on those premises have been. It's also important to consider whether you plan to buy the building or only rent the premises.

5. Make the concept a reality

Once you've secured the right location, you can start making the restaurant a reality. This includes designing your branding and website, finalising the menu and hiring and training staff. You may also want to decorate the restaurant in a way that matches your concept and buy all the equipment you require. This ranges from plates, cutlery and glasses to kitchen equipment, furniture and items like napkins and toothpicks. It might be possible to connect some items like plates and furniture to your restaurant concept.

6. Get insurance

Insurance is a necessity to operate your restaurant legally. An insurance policy designed for restaurants can give you all the coverage you require. To operate a restaurant, you need insurance against public injury and staff injury, loss, theft or damage of business contents and damage to the building you operate from. If you're renting your premises, your landlord might also have buildings insurance in place, so it's a good idea to check before taking out insurance.

7. Understand the regulations

It's important to understand the regulations regarding opening a restaurant. First, register the restaurant with your local council at least 28 days before you open. It's also a legal requirement that you obtain a Food Hygiene Certificate, which is available from a range of different training providers. If you intend to serve alcohol, you also require a licence to do so.

There are a variety of other regulations to adhere to, covering areas including food labelling and storage. You may also wish to obtain other permits. For example, if you want to music in public areas, you would need a special permit. It's important to look into the regulations carefully and seek support from regulators.

8. Reach your customers

Once the business is open, your aim is to reach as many customers as you can. Having a professional and functioning website and engaging social media profiles can help with this. You might be able to work with any local influencers who can help you attract customers. Other suggestions for marketing your restaurant include a launch party, special offers, partnerships with other businesses in the area and loyalty schemes.

Another way to keep gaining customers is to ensure your menu and service are of great quality. This encourages customers to return and helps you to gain new ones. Many consumers now check online reviews before choosing a restaurant, so maintaining high standards and encouraging satisfied customers to review you online can be a successful strategy.

Related: What is email marketing? (Tips on how to launch a campaign)

9. Look for future opportunities

Your restaurant should respond as the market changes, so look for future opportunities for the business. It's helpful to think about what else you want to achieve and what the future trends are in the restaurant industry. Based on this, you can identify possible opportunities for the future, like opening a takeaway or food delivery service.

The benefits of opening a restaurant

Opening a restaurant can feel intimidating and requires a lot of effort, but there are benefits to doing so. It gives you the freedom of being self-employed and whilst you're likely to have to work a lot at first, there may be more flexibility once you open the restaurant. Many restaurant owners also appreciate the satisfaction of seeing a project through from conception to completion. By opening a restaurant, you're also contributing something to your community and local area and may help to generate employment or boost the local economy.

Related: Top 10 benefits of being self-employed

What does it cost to launch a restaurant?

Opening a restaurant comes with a lot of expenses, but the exact cost varies. This depends on factors like the type of restaurant you're opening, the location and its size. You're likely to make a significant investment in the business and might also wish to secure funding from either a loan or an investment. Knowing your start-up costs can help you budget and forecast accurately. Some costs to consider are:

  • rent or mortgage of your premises

  • utilities

  • staffing costs

  • furniture and decor

  • ingredients and drinks

  • new equipment

  • insurance

  • marketing

Necessary skills and experience to open a restaurant

To open your own restaurant, you require certain skills and having a genuine passion for food and customer service is essential. You can open a restaurant regardless of your background, but it can be beneficial to have some experience within the restaurant industry. This means you know what to expect and also have experience with managing a kitchen, dealing with customers and sourcing ingredients and supplies.

An understanding of business can also be beneficial. If you don't have the necessary experience, make sure you have a mentor or partner who can help you run your business profitably. Other important skills and experience for restaurant owners may include:

  • leaderships skills

  • organisation skills

  • problem-solving skills

  • communication and customer service skills

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