Small Business Brief


Opening a Restaurant Checklist: What You Need to Start One

America’s food industry is one of the largest worldwide, with revenues of $898 billion expected in 2022. It’s no wonder the sector attracts so many new entrepreneurs. 

If you’ve been looking to enter the food sector, you may want to consider starting a restaurant. These establishments can be lucrative sources of income, hence their proliferation across the country. Today, roughly 149,338 single-location full-service restaurants exist in America.

But, how do you open a new restaurant? If that’s your question, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a full restaurant checklist to help ensure you’ve missed nothing come opening day.

Decide on a Suitable Restaurant Concept

The first step in starting a restaurant business is to come up with a concept. This will be the foundation of your restaurant and will dictate everything from the menu to the decor.

When coming up with a concept, it is important to consider your target audience, what kind of experience you want them to have, and what makes your restaurant unique.

Draw an Actionable Business Plan

After you have settled on a concept, the next step is to create a business plan. This document will outline your restaurant’s goals, strategies, and financial projections.

A well-crafted business plan is essential for any successful restaurant. It will help you secure funding, attract investors, and make sure that your business is on track to meet its goals.

Pick a Great Location

Choosing the right location for your restaurant is crucial. Your restaurant’s concept will determine what kind of location you need. For example, a fine-dining restaurant will require a different type of location than a fast-food restaurant. Generally, the location should be accessible, visible, and in a safe area.

Once you have found a few potential locations, it is important to visit them in person to get a feel for the space and see if it is a good fit for your restaurant.

Sort Out Licenses and Insurance

You can’t open a restaurant without the proper licenses and permits. The type of license you need will vary depending on your restaurant’s concept, location, and menu.

Some common licenses and permits that all restaurants need include a business license, a food handler’s permit, and a liquor license. You will also need to obtain any required building permits before you can start construction on your restaurant.

You will need to have liability insurance in case of any accidents or injuries that occur on your property. You should also consider getting property insurance, as well as product liability insurance if you will be serving alcohol.

You can find out how to get your restaurant insurance through a reputable insurance company.

Get Your Finances in Order

Opening a restaurant is a costly endeavor. You will need to secure funding to cover the cost of rent, construction, licenses and permits, equipment, inventory, and staff.

There are a few different ways to finance your restaurant. You can use your own savings, take out a loan, or seek investors.

If you are using your own savings, it is important to have a solid financial plan in place. This will help you avoid going into debt and ensure that you have enough money to keep your restaurant afloat during the early months when business may be slow.

If you are taking out a loan, it is important to shop around for the best interest rate and terms. You should also make sure that you can comfortably make the monthly payments.

Outfit Your Restaurant

The next step is to outfit your establishment with the necessary furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E). This includes everything from tables and chairs to kitchen appliances and dishware.

When choosing FF&E for your restaurant, it is important to consider the style of your restaurant, your budget, and the functionality of the items. For example, you will need to decide whether you want tablecloths or not, and if so, what color and material they should be.

It is also important to make sure that your restaurant meets all the necessary health and safety regulations. This includes having adequate ventilation, lighting, and storage for food and supplies.

Create a Superb Menu

Creating a menu that appeals to your target audience is essential to the success of your restaurant. Your menu should be reflective of your restaurant’s concept and offer a variety of items that will appeal to your customers.

It is also important to consider the cost of ingredients and the price you will charge for each dish. You want to make sure that your menu is affordable for your customers but also profitable for your business.

Offering a variety of gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options will help you appeal to a wider range of customers.

Recruit Restaurant Staff

One of the most important aspects of opening a restaurant is hiring qualified staff. This includes everything from servers and cooks to dishwashers and bussers. You will need to carefully screen all potential employees and conduct interviews to find the best candidates.

It is also important to provide training for your staff on the menu, restaurant procedures, and customer service.

You should also create a schedule that ensures that your restaurant is properly staffed during all shifts. Creating a positive and productive work environment will help you retain good employees and keep your restaurant running smoothly.

Establish Strong Vendor Relationships

In order to run a successful restaurant, you will need to establish relationships with vendors. This includes everything from food suppliers to equipment providers.

It is important to find vendors that offer quality products at a fair price. You should also make sure that they can provide reliable delivery and service.

Market Your Restaurant 

Now that you have all the necessary components in place, it is time to start thinking about branding. This includes everything from the restaurant’s name and logo to the overall design and ambiance.

Your restaurant’s branding should reflect its concept and target audience. It should be unique and memorable, and it should help you stand out from the competition.

Start Strong By Following a Comprehensive Restaurant Checklist

With the right planning and preparation, opening a restaurant can be a fun and rewarding experience. Follow this restaurant checklist, and you’ll be sure that your business is ready for success and ultimately go on to build restaurant chains.

Did you enjoy reading this article? Keep visiting our blog for more exciting content.