For many people, opening a restaurant can seem like a dream come true. It can be the career of a lifetime if you prepare and invest properly. Those who own a successful restaurant may tell you that they gain a thrilling satisfaction at serving the chaotic crowds than can swarm their doors at any time of the week or year. If this sounds like you and you’re curious about what it takes to open a restaurant of your own, here are the step-by-step essentials to put you on the course to success.
Define Your Business Plan
Restaurants are an adventure, but they are also a financial venture. You need to have practical business know-how in order to successfully manage your business and make profit. Before you start investing money, you will do yourself a huge favor by educating yourself on the management and financial aspects of running a restaurant. There are many schools that offer programs and degrees to help arm you with knowledge. Therefore, after some time, you will be fully equipped to open the restaurant of your dreams with a practical plan that can move you forward.
Focus Your Concept
If you’ve been dreaming of your ideal restaurant for a while, you likely have an image of what you want it to be. Before you target your audience, think about the vision you have for your restaurant. Perhaps you are inspired by a certain type of cuisine or service. Maybe your family makes authentic Mexican food, or maybe you enjoy trendy burger restaurants. Whether you are interested in fine dining or fast-food, there are nearly limitless ways to go about it. Research some of your favorite restaurants based on cuisine, service, and aesthetics. Gather information from experts such as designers and chefs to start to flesh out your concept from head to table.
Target Your Audience
Despite your best efforts, no restaurant is loved by absolutely everyone. That is why it is absolutely necessary to champion your own vision. By doing so, you will naturally attract someone who is like-minded. If you create a trendy fried-chicken restaurant, for example, you will draw an audience that will differ from that of a vegan restaurant. Likewise, people of different ages and socio-economic backgrounds will be attracted to different cuisines and atmospheres. Consider whether you want to appeal to Millennials, Baby Boomers, or anyone above sixty-five. Perhaps you even want a combination of all three. From this point on, keep your audience in mind while planning out the rest of your restaurant, and know that it is normal not to attract everyone.
Choose the Menu
The menu of a restaurant can vary widely based on the service and food you want to provide. For every category of service, there are more and more subcategories that new restaurants have implemented. For instance, if you are a brewery and you want people to sit and socialize for a while, it is best to introduce a menu. Traditionally, gastro-pubs will offer fare such as burgers, salads, and fried appetizers so that adults and their families can stay after work. Whether you would like to open a quick-service, dine-in, midscale, or upscale restaurant, you want your audience to know what they are getting into. That doesn’t mean you can’t add a twist, but it does mean that, for example, you don’t want your guests to come in expecting fine dining only to get a fast food experience. Choose a menu that both expresses your creativity and will appeal to the audience that you are interested in.
Apply for Licenses
In all likelihood, you already know whether or not you want to serve alcohol. If that is the case, you need to investigate the price of a liquor license. There are many more kinds of licenses and permits you will likely need, so as you lay out your financial plan to build and design the restaurant, make sure you factor this in to avoid any legality issues.
Once you are on the brink of a soft-opening, start opening social media accounts to gain traction with the public. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are all popular platforms that will draw an audience and are great ways to promote upcoming events and specials. If possible, network with bloggers, food critics, and others well-connected with the scene in your area to try your restaurant and spread the word. The next step is to get on a network such as Foursquare, where people can share reviews, give constructive criticism, and hopefully draw others to become regulars at your establishment.