You’ve always fantasized about owning a restaurant. There’s something magical about it. You could end up being famous, or you could just revel in the satisfaction that people come to eat what you’ve cooked. Whatever the reason, you’ll need to know how to prepare for the grand opening.
For starters, you’re going to need a vendor’s license, a wholesale supplier for food, a source for things like counters, chairs, tables, shelving units, refrigerators, freezers, walk-ins, ovens, ranges, fryers, cookware and utensils, a computer system and POS setup, cash registers, and some way to market like flyers or mail pieces. You’ll also need to follow a very specific outline to get your restaurant off the ground:
1. Create a Name
The name is probably one of the most important things for a restaurant. Are you starting a bistro? A bar? A family restaurant? An upscale, fine dining, experience? A winery that serves hors d’oeuvres? A diner? A fast-food restaurant? All of these will impact the naming of your place.
2. Determine Funding
How will you get the money to fund your venture? Will you take out a loan? Rely on angel funding? Will you raise the cash yourself? You’ll need to know exactly how your business will be funded, because that will impact operations. For example, angel funding usually requires you to divest ownership in your company to the investors.
3. Decide On Whether You Want A Franchise or Independent Business
More and more business owners are opting for the franchise model. It’s easy to set up, everything is basically done for you, and all you need to do is show up with the money and the will to succeed. But going the franchise route does mean that you won’t be building your own brand. Is that important to you?
4. Call Wholesale Suppliers
If you’re starting your own business, and not a franchise, you’ll need wholesale suppliers for things like food, equipment, and kitchen utensils. For example, if you’re an ice cream shop, you might buy your supplies from a company like FrozenDessertSupplies.com. Shop around with several suppliers before making a choice.
5. Select a Location For Your Restaurant
Location is crucial for a restaurant. If you get it wrong, you might close your doors within the first month. Many budding restaurants rely on foot traffic to get started. Even when you’re sending out marketing materials, people need to be able to find you easily. That’s how “buzz” starts and how your restaurant takes off.
6. Order Food and Supplies
When you’ve finally decided on a wholesaler, it’s time to order your supplies. If you’re not a good negotiator, now’s the time to practice. The lower your costs, the higher your profits.
7. Build The Restaurant
Physically building the restaurant should happen either during or immediately prior to having your supplies shipped. Talk to several contractors that work in the commercial industry. Like everything else, you get what you pay for.
8. Staff It
Hire staff for your restaurant. Again, the quality of your staff will determine how successful your company ultimately is.
9. Market It
Send out fliers, direct mail pieces, even postcards to get the word out. With marketing, the goal is to get people to come through those doors to check out your food. Always make your sales offer something enticing like a discounted lunch or free drinks. Alternatively, sell your restaurant on the value you offer. For example, perhaps you’re the only burger joint in town that still fries everything in beef tallow. Set yourself apart from your competition, and it’ll be much easier to succeed in this crowded industry.
Albert Stayton is a restaurateur. He enjoys writing to help entrepreneurs start their own restaurants.