Basic Checklist for Opening a New Restaurant

How to Open a Restaurant

Opening a new restaurant is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. To help you get started, I've put together a checklist of everything you need to get to opening day.

1
Choose a Solid Restaurant Concept

Waiter serving food
Justin Sullivan / Staff/Getty Images
Restaurant concepts are often conceived based on current trends (or fads) in food. Like restaurants built around fondue pots or ten pound burgers, are these going to last? Whereas, a concept built around a diverse menu that offers a variety of classic and new dishes, is likely to be as popular with diners in five years as it is now. Read 10 Things You Should Know About Restaurant Concepts for more.

2
Check Out Your Local Competition

Educate staff on menu and drinks
Empower your restaurant staff to be the best at their job. Robert Owen-Wahl via Pixabay
Don’t underestimate your competition. Maybe you’ve thinking you can do it better. And maybe you can. But that Mom and Pop restaurant that’s been around forever, they are obviously doing something right, to still be in business.

3
Select a Good Location

Show up ready for your restaurant bank interview
A great restaurant business plan is vital for financing. Unsplash via Pixabay

This may seem like an obvious step in opening a new restaurant, however, I am always surprised when a restaurant pops up in a poor location. Often times a location may seem like good idea, only to find out that for various reasons, it does not attract customers. That’s why storefronts in busy downtown districts have higher rents. Read on for 10 things to Know About Choosing a Restaurant Location.

4
Write a Stellar Business Plan

Social Media increases restaurant sales
Social Media Helps Restaurants Connect With Customers. Daniel Ozga via Pixabay

Now it’s time to write your business plan. This is like your roadmap to opening day. A business plan has three main parts: an executive summary, company description, and a market analysis. Basically you have to give an overview of your restaurant idea – the concept, the location, the amount of money you expect to make each year, and so on. Writing a restaurant business plan can take time, but it is essential that you have clear understanding of what opening a restaurant entails.

5
Meet With Investors

Hispanic chef working on paperwork in restaurant
Blend Images - Terry Vine/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Now is your chance to wow your investors with that stellar restaurant business plan. No matter if you are meeting with a bank, small business bureau, or private investors, bring all your paperwork neatly organized, in folders and portfolios investors can keep. Read more about getting ready for your bank interview.

6
Hire Awesome Staff

How to give great customer service
How to give great customer service. Pfaffenhofen a.d.Ilm/Deutschland via Pixabay

Look for a mix of good personality and experience when hiring staff. You may be tempted to hire family and friends, but do so with caution. Relationship dynamics change when one of you is the boss. Read more about how to hire great restaurant staff.

7
Write Your Restaurant Menu

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Why Websites Still Matter. Rikahi

At the heart of your restaurant concept is the menu. It is your calling card to the public. Before being writing your menu, consider the size of your restaurant kitchen, which directly impacts the size and style of your menu. A smaller kitchen will limit the variety of your restaurant menu. That isn’t to say you can’t offer a wide number of items. Many restaurants have tiny kitchens, but still have a wide variety of items on their menu. The secret to working out of a small restaurant kitchen is cross-utilizing ingredients and learning to work within only a few different kitchen stations.

8
Order Restaurant Equipment

Once you’ve decided on your menu, you will know what type of commercial equipment you’ll need to buy. Often times you can find good quality used equipment at auctions or restaurant supply stores. Read on for the benefits of buying used restaurant equipment.

9
Hold a Grand Opening

Don't pay for this stuff at your restaurant
Bar glassware is often a freebie by distributors. roegger via Pixabay
Once you’re ready to start serving, you can have a quiet opening (also known as a soft opening) followed by a bigger grand opening. This will give you time to work out the inevitable bugs all new restaurants have.

10
Market with Social Media

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Encourage customers to share the love of your restaurant, through photos. Art of Backpacking

Once you are open for business, it’s time to start advertising. If you aren’t sure where to start with your social media campaign, find other local places and follow them. If you admire a restaurant in a different area from where you do business, follow that restaurant too and see how they use social media. There is no reason to reinvent wheel. Read on for 10 Things to Know about Restaurants and Social Media.