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There are more than 1 million restaurants in the U.S., with over 15 million employees in the restaurant industry. What’s more, Americans love to eat out. Most of them do so several times a week!

Have you always dreamt of starting your own restaurant, but aren’t sure what it entails?

Let’s take a look at what you need to know about how to open a restaurant.

Decide on Your Brand and Concept

When you’re going to start a restaurant, the first thing you need is an idea of what kind of restaurant you want to run.

What kind of atmosphere do you want the place to have? Is it casual or fine-dining? What type of food are you going to serve?

When you’re going to start a restaurant, you want to have a sense of the demographic you’re appealing to. This will help you design your brand, which contributes to your restaurant’s personality, identity, and mission.

Design Your Menu

The first draft of your menu absolutely doesn’t need to be its final form. That being said, you’ll want to have a blueprint of the type of menu items you’ll be offering.

This is because your menu items will help determine how many and what kind of staff you need to hire, the equipment you need, and the demographic you’re aiming for.

Once your restaurant is open, you’ll want to stay continuously attentive to how menu items are performing and where improvements can be made.

Create a Business Plan

Having a business plan will be useful to keep you organized and absolutely essential for finding funding. This is a great way for you to figure out whether or not your restaurant will be viable and successful.

Find Funding

You’re going to need a budget for your restaurant right away. Take a look at what you think day-to-day operations will cost as well as the start-up costs. Use this information to make an educated guess about how much money you’ll need for a year’s worth of business.

If there’s a discrepancy between how much money you have to start the restaurant and how much money you need, this is when you’ll start looking for investors or applying for restaurant loans. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of necessary licenses.

Search for the Perfect Location

Where your restaurant is located can have a huge impact on how much traffic you receive.

There are a number of things you’ll want to consider when it comes to choosing a location, including but not limited to:

  • Nearby competition: Some competition can actually be a good thing, but if you’re opening a sushi restaurant you might not want to do it right next door to that mega-successful, well-established sushi restaurant already in town.
  • The demographics: What crowd are you trying to draw? What areas does this crowd typically live, work, hang out in?
  • Accessibility and Visibility: You want your new restaurant to be visible to anyone and everyone that’s walking or driving by. The same restaurant on the main street vs hidden down a back alley can do a drastically different amount of business.

Obtain Appropriate Permits and Licenses

This part can be a pain, but it’s a necessity. Consider getting some legal help to make sure you file for all of the local, state, and federal permits and licenses you need to be above board.

Source Your Food and Equipment

Finding a reliable source for your ingredients and any necessary equipment is essential. This is a step that you don’t want to skimp on your research about. Make sure you have absolutely everything you need before you open, and learn as much as you can about wholesalers before choosing one.

Design the Layout of Your Restaurant

It’s important when designing your restaurant’s layout to pay attention to how people will move through the space. You want it to be obvious where people should go when they walk in the door, rather it’s to the hostess stand or to seat themselves.

You’ll need to think about where the servers will put in orders, the design of the line in the back of the house, and everything in between.

Hire Your Staff

Hiring the right staff is critical to a successful restaurant. Depending on what type and size of restaurant you’re starting, you might only be hiring a handful of people or a whole team.

You’ll need to fill both the front of the house and the back of the house with people who are able to maintain poise under pressure, work well as a part of a team, and can work efficiently and quickly. Your front of house staff should have excellent people skills, as their interactions with the customers will have a huge impact on customer satisfaction.

Market Your Restaurant

Whether you hire a whole marketing team or just deal with advertising yourself, one of the most important things you’ll do when you open a restaurant is tell the world about it.

You’ll want to make sure that you have a clear and updated online presence, including a website with all the correct information. You could advertise using social media, the local paper, through email marketing, or all of the above. Take the time to determine which restaurant marketing ideas work for your place and build a marketing plan around them.

Now You Know How to Open a Restaurant

Starting a restaurant is a lot of work, but running a successful restaurant can be extremely rewarding. How to start a restaurant is both a science and an art, with certain steps you’ll have to follow, but a lot of creative and personal choices as well.

Did you love this article on how to open a restaurant? If yes, be sure to check out the rest of our blog!

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