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How to Start a Restaurant

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by Startacus Admin

How to Start a Restaurant (Or ‘How to become a restaurantrepreneur’ if you prefer…)

Its been a few weeks since we have had a food based post and since we are feeling particularly peckish this afternoon, we thought it an appropriate time to tackle the daunting question of ‘how do you start a restaurant?’   

The very sentence will strike fear into the hearts of many, with the difficulties of setting up a restaurant being much emphasized in the media and the now restaurant businessinfamous “90% of restaurants fail in their 1st year!” statistic being very over used.  This ‘statistic’ is in fact nothing more than an urban-myth with the true number of restaurants failing or changing owners in their first year is 1 in 4 - much closer to the average for a new business!

We think a somewhat  less defeatist approach to the subject is what's called for now! So if you have a dream of opening your own restaurant and are not sure what you should do next, our tips will hopefully whet your appetite and give you the inspiration to go for it!

Market Research

More than just eating out alot (although that will be a happy part of it) your market research will have the aim of telling you whether or not setting up a restaurant in your chosen area is a commercially viable option.  It will also give you the opportunity to reconsider what type of restaurant you are going to set up in line with the feedback that you get.  Start thinking about...

  • Where exactly would it be best for you to open your restaurant?  Is there a particular area where restaurants seems to be focused where you live?  Are restaurants of different types focused in different areas?

  • Find out if there is a market for they type of food you will serve where you plan to locate.  If your theme will be unusual or niche how do you think people will respond to it?

  • Are there any other restaurants in the area which serve similar food, if not is there a reason for this?  

  • Can you set up a focus group in the area to get their opinions of what type of restaurant they would like to see start-up in their town?  People love to talk about food- could you find a creative way of getting feedback such as social media competition?

  • What is the general tone of dining where you plan to set up formal, semi formal, casual?

  • Will you restaurant seek to compete directly with those already established or will you attempt to carve out a niche for yourself?

  • If you plan on serving an unusual or niche cuisine will you be able to recruit a chef/chefs who will be able to put together a menu?

  • If you think that you will be relying heavily on passing trade does the planned location get good footfall?  You will want to visit at different times and days in order to assess this. Be aware that footfall can change quite significantly throughout the year e.g. during non-term time, how could these changes affect your business?

  • Who will your main competitors be?  What sort of prices do they charge and how busy are they?  It would be a good idea to pay them a visit for some cheeky competition research

  • Have you considered buying into a restaurant franchise?  Check out our page the pros and cons of buying into a franchise for more info

  • Do you have any experience of running a restaurant or working in a customer facing environment?  

  • Are there any courses or qualifications which you could do in order to help you run the business or to give it credibility?

  • Are there any startup loans or grants available in your area that could help you?

Planning and Development

If your market research has brought back positive results, its time to solidify your restaurant concept and get ready to make it into a reality!

  • Have you written a business plan yet?  Do you know how to write one?  If not is there someone with experience of the restaurant business who could help you?

  • Have you decided upon a location for the business?  Does it fit the requirements that you have? Is there easy access for the public/deliveries?restaurant business

  • It is likely that you will have to make significant changes to the premises in order to turn it into a fully functioning restaurant.  How much is this likely to cost and does you lease permit it?(Don't forget that people often initially judge a restaurant by what it looks like from the outside, so remember to consider this as well)

  • Start thinking about all the equipment that you will need for the restaurant- furnishing, kitchen equipment etc.  How much (roughly) will all this cost?

  • Think about the design of the restaurant, what kind of feel do you want it to have.

  • What position do you plan to hold in the restaurant?  Will you be working full time from the get go? Will you be working in the restaurant at all?

  • How many staff will you need to hire?  How will you recruit them?  How much will employing them cost?

  • Are you planning to serve alcohol?  If so are you aware of the legalities of doing so?  You will need to apply for an alchol liscience from your local council (For more info visit the gevernments alchohol liscencing page (for link )

  • What will you call your restaurant?  Can you think of a catchy name that will make you stand out from the competition?

  • Do you have an idea about what suppliers you would like to work with?  How do you plan to build up a relationship with them?

    Continued on page 2...

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Published on: 13th October 2013

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