How to Open a Fine Dining Restaurant
Is Fine Dining Right For You?
Much of opening a fine dining restaurant is similar to opening a regular restaurant – you need to have a business plan, find financing, apply for permits and licenses, just to name a few. Along with all these tasks, a fine dining restaurant requires great attention to detail, from the food to the service.
Time Required: Varies
- Define what you mean by fine dining. The term “fine dining” means different things to different people. What may be “fine dining” to one person could be considered casual to another. Technically speaking, the term Fine Dining is a restaurant concept that offers patrons the finest in food, service and atmosphere. Again, this definition is open to interpretation. If you plan to promote your new restaurant as a fine dining establishment, it should be distinctly different and higher end than other restaurants in your area. Not all fine dining is table cloths and frilly napkins. Many of the highest rated restaurants in the country have sleek, simple designs.
- Select a location. Just as with any new restaurant, the location is integral for success. A benefit of a fine dining restaurant is that you may have more leeway in choosing a location. Fine dining restaurants are a destination spot for most people- that is they make their dinner reservations weeks or months ahead of time and are willing to drive to get there. Converted buildings, like barns, older homes and other unique structures are a great location for a fine dining restaurant, so long as it is feasible to build a restaurant there.
- Create a fine dining menu. Your menu should set you apart, and above, the competition. Many fine dining restaurants feature a prix fixe menu, while others mix a standard menu with nightly specials. Your menu should be presented in an elegant form and printed on good quality paper. Read more specialty restaurant menus.
- Purchase fine dining equipment. While all restaurants need to purchase the right commercial equipment before they open, fine dining restaurants need to consider the style of plates, flatware, linens and furniture that will help set the mood in the dining room. The equipment purchased for the kitchen should reflect the menu. If you are using a lot of freshly made produce and homemade desserts and breads, you will need adequate space to store and prepare the food. This may also mean you need less freezer space.
- Hire a well trained staff. Fine dining is the top of the restaurant chain in terms of serving and a good server is worth her weight in gold. A server should know the menu without looking at it. They should always have a recommendation for either food or drink if a customer asks. In the kitchen, look for a head chef who has both experience and a passion for cooking, someone who will create new, unique dishes and guide the rest of the kitchen staff toward excellence.
- Connect with local farms. Organic, local fare isn’t just better for the environment and the local economy. It tastes better, looks better and is much more marketable for a fine dining restaurant. Patrons like the idea of knowing where their food comes from.
- Set up a reservation system. You can choose to have a seating – that is, the first round of guests is seated at 5:30, the next round at 7:30. This allows you to control the flow of orders into the kitchen. You also need to decide how long you will hold a table before giving it away, if customers are late or just don’t show. Read more about restaurant reservations.
- Partner with other local businesses. As part of your marketing and advertising campaign, reach out to other local businesses that will appeal to a fine dining crowd, such as bed and breakfasts, resorts, or hotels. You can partner to offer discount deals for people looking for a weekend getaway.
- Tablecloths can be expensive to maintain in a busy restaurant. Consider skipping them, you can still have fine dining with nice table tops.